Guys and gals, we're just over a week away from Bulls Media Day! Get excited! It didn't really hit me until I saw SLAM Magazine's Derrick Rose cover, which is pretty freaking awesome if you haven't seen it yet.
Anyway, it's always around this time where many of the major media outlets compile their top 100 lists, and Sports Illustrated's Point Forward duo of Ben Golliver and Rob Mahoney just finished rolling out their version Friday morning.
Upon reviewing the Bulls on the list, there's sure to be some anger as well as some nodding heads. Let's have at it.
While most of Blog a Bull probably has Butler in their top 10, the fact that national pundits see Mark Wahlberg's new best friend as a top 90 NBA player is pretty cool. The guys just behind Buckets? Brandon Jennings, Shawn Marion, Ricky Rubio, Chandler Parsons and Eric Bledsoe. Those are all damn good players. While some of us admittedly overstate Butler's ability and importance to the team, his development may just end up being a key difference between another playoff exit and perhaps something more special.
In my opinion, there was a pretty popular misconception that Boozer was good to really good last season. He did have a few great stretches, dominated Reggie Evans in the playoffs and nearly averaged a double-double. However, his defense was still woeful and he shot a career-low 47.7 percent from the field. The offense was even somehow worse when he was on the court, per NBA.com. The hope is that Boozer will benefit from #TheReturn, but I'm not holding my breath waiting for any type of real consistency from him other than accumulating empty double-doubles. I guess No. 71 is okay for him, but I'd probably have him a bit lower. Interestingly enough, Omer Asik is just two spots better at No. 69.
While his two consecutive All-Star appearances would seem to suggest he should be higher, right around the top 50 is a perfect spot for Deng. He's a bit of a whipping boy right now due to his shooting struggles and contract situation, but with Rose coming back, I expect a bit of a bounce back year for Deng. That is, I expect better than 42 percent shooting at the very least. I'm still a bit confused as to why he didn't just opt to have the wrist surgery, but hopefully his poor shooting has truly been more of a factor of no Rose and harboring a larger burden. Some players behind Deng? Manu Ginobili, Ryan Anderson and Nene. In front? Steve Nash, DeMarcus Cousins, Greg Monroe and Nicolas Batum.
Noah's selection at No. 21 slots him firmly in the top five for centers. The only other centers ranked ahead of Noah are: Dwight Howard, Tim Duncan, Marc Gasol and Chris Bosh. It's pretty remarkable what Noah has turned himself into, and I'm pretty convinced he'll win a Defensive Player of the Year Award soon as long as those troublesome feet don't keep him off the court. The Bulls were light years better defensively when he was on the court last year, and he's probably the second-best passing center in the league outside of Gasol. Throw in Noah's leadership and the way he often wills the Bulls to wins (think Game 7 vs. Nets), and you have yourself a borderline top 20 NBA player. Now we just need some better playoff performances against the Heat.
Uh, oh. I'm sure this one will rile some feathers. SI obviously offered the caveat that the rather lowish ranking for Rose is simply based on his rather unique situation. He hasn't played in forever, he's coming off a serious knee injury and so much of his game is based on quickness and explosion. But for all the "wait-and-see" stuff, I'm pretty confident Rose will return to his prior form at some point. By pretty much all accounts (including his), he's stronger, quicker and has an improved jumper. While some of that stuff may be offseason "best shape in his life" bullshit, I tend to believe this. By this time next year, I expect Rose to have reclaimed his spot in the top 10 and possibly the top five. Oh, by the way, Russell Westbrook is at No. 5 and Kyrie Irving is at No. 20.