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The East has gotten better, but the Bulls can still be the best

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Good for the Celtics in getting KG. There may be some (from what I've read, not many) moans from green-kool-aid nation over ruining 'the future'. But really, they had little future, and not much of a present. My opinion on them going into the season was that they weren't going to play defense and therefore likely wouldn't even be as good as the Wizards. Now, with Garnett, they get that much better as a team defensively (albeit maybe not even average) that I would now consider them officially scary.

Sure, they still have Doc Rivers to screw things up, although with a now vet-laden team I'm assuming his 'coaching' becomes less relevant. And there's no bench (and a lot of faith in a young PG who can't shoot), but finding those guys is the easy part. The difficult task is done in assembling some really good parts, replacing the Ryan Gomes of the world is just an cap exception or two away.

Although as I (and others here) try to emphasize, there's no set way to build a title team. The only sure way is to build a really good team and win a title, and then you make up the rules retroactively that got you there. So instead of comparing this Bulls team or this new Celtics team with past champs, how about against eachother? How about against the rest of the East?

I think the Bulls are the best team in the East. In the coming regular season, anyway.

They were the best in the East last season in terms of point differential, and the two big frontcourt additions of Joe Smith and Joakim Noah should make them better. I also think they'll be less likely for yet another circus trip stumble, with much fewer new players to break in to Skiles-ball(no headbands and lots of kneescrapes and fist pumps, basically). And as I said before last season, they're suited to win a bunch of games just by being deep and relentless. It got them to 49 wins last year even after some bad luck (yes, I'll bang that point differential drum as much as I can), I don't see why they can't be in the mid-50s and take the #1 seed.

That's not what it's all about though, obviously. Regardless of a potentially gaudy record, are they better than Detroit, Cleveland, and now Boston? Even Miami or New Jersey?

Eh, I don't know. But the good thing is that since most of this team is young, none of us really know. I can't even speculate as to what another full season will mean for Tyrus Thomas or Noah, let alone whatever potential leap can occur between Deng and Gordon (or both, if you want to get giddy). Every year Skiles has coached this team, his players and teams have progressed as the season goes along. I look on paper now and foresee a lot of regular season success, but it's that progression that can enable them to win the conference.

And in the 2008 NBA Playoffs, the proof will be in the results. It's not: if the Bulls have more 'superstars' they'll win the East,  if they had a 'low post presence' they'll win the East. If they beat the best of the East in 7-game series, then they'll win the East. And then pundits will go into how the 'Bulls way' of building a team is the right way, whatever that means. I suppose that Deng and Gordon are now 'superstars', or that perimeter teams are enough to win, or that simply having the best defense in basketball is enough.

But there is no right way, just the right teams with each their own way.  And it's the teams that win, not the strategy of making them. So looking at the teams, who's clearly better than the Bulls? Sure the Bulls have to still beat the Pistons and Cavaliers to prove they're worthy, but I see a conference where all the top teams have a lot to prove. Welcome the Celtics to the contending fray, but don't count out the Bulls ultimately coming out of that scrum.