There has been much doom and gloom lately surrounding the Chicago Bulls, and understandably so. Another Derrick Rose injury. Jimmy Butler is out for a while. A disastrous Rodeo trip (the annual road trip the Bulls take when the rodeo comes to town and takes over the United Center) featured a blowout to the Denver Nuggets, a loss by a billion points to the L.A. Clippers, the fateful game in Portland where Rose got hurt and the Bulls blew a big lead and lost, a loss to the terrible Utah Jazz, and a heartbreaking loss in Cleveland.
Luol Deng continues to play his heart out but just looks plain beat up. Marquis Teague has not shown anything in regards to being a legitimate NBA point guard. While the Bulls’ bench stinks it up, Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli are having good seasons in Denver and San Antonio respectively.
Did I get everything? Good! I set out to write another doom and gloom article, but the other three sports teams I root for (the Indiana Pacers, Indianapolis Colts, and San Francisco 49ers) all came up with big wins today, so I decided to be positive! So let’s take a look at some of the positives of the Bulls so far this season.
1. Taj Gibson is playing great
The number one positive I can think of is how the backup power forward is playing. Such are the 2013-2014 Chicago Bulls!
But seriously, Gibson has been great. He has always been steady, not providing anything flashy but always providing a calming feeling when the Carlos Boozer roller coaster is in full effect. He is averaging a career-high 10.5 points per game, along with 6.1 rebounds. Per 36 minutes, he is averaging a fantastic 15.3/8.8. That is the problem, though…he only plays 24 minutes per game. Tom Thibodeau needs to find more minutes for him, whether it means giving him some more of Boozer’s minutes or playing him more at backup center.
Gibson has been more aggressive looking for his shot in the post when he has a size advantage, and has shown some improved post moves. His shots attempted are up to 9.3 from just 6.7 last year, while his shooting percentage has stayed steady around 48%.
2. Thibs is playing Tony Snell, and he is playing well
Rookie Tony Snell played an average of 4 minutes per game in his first 6 appearances of the season. Since Jimmy Butler went down with a turf toe injury, Snell has seen an increased role in the rotation.
In the last 4 games, he’s averaging 31.5 minutes, and he has been productive. He’s averaged 11.3 points, shooting 53% from the field and making 7-16 from 3-point range.
Snell is an athletic 6-foot-7 wing that can shoot, and if he can pan out in the future, a pairing of him and Butler on the wings (presuming Luol Deng is gone after this year) would be nice. Small sample, but Thibodeau doesn’t like playing rookies. Snell has to have impressed him after being forced into action.
3. The team continues to play hard
Honestly, I really, really admire this team’s heart. It has absolutely endeared them to me. I can’t imagine what it must be like to have to go and play an entire season without your best teammate after an entire year of saying “Wait until Rose is back.” Next season, this team will probably look drastically different.
Years from now, I’ll look back at this Thibs/Rose/Noah/Deng/Boozer/Gibson core and remember how they always competed, no matter the circumstances. I’ll remember the missed opportunities and probably cry because they were so good in the few instances when it all came together, but I’ll have nothing but appreciation for this team’s desire. No matter how many bricked mid-range jumpshots I have to endure the rest of this season.
And that’s about it! You may now resume your regularly scheduled depression about another 45-win Bulls season.
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