The 2008-09 RotoRob NBA Draft Kit keeps on trucking, with the long-lost Jordan checking in with a report about his hometown Bulls.
Coming off an incredibly disappointing 33-49 season, the Chicago Bulls entered the offseason with a ton of questions. First, they needed a coach. Scott Skiles had been fired the previous Christmas Eve and his replacement, Jim Boylan, was unable to motivate his players and ultimately lost control of his team. The Bulls hunt for a new coach captured national headlines as both Mike D’Antoni and Doug Collins pulled out of consideration after reported deals had been made.
Finally, the Bulls settled for Vinny Del Negro, a former NBA veteran who had been in the Phoenix front office. Del Negro has never coached at any level and his success will be gauged on whether he leads the Bulls back to the playoffs or not.
Since the end of the Michael Jordan era, the Bulls have been a regular in the NBA draft lottery. In 1999, they won the first pick and selected Elton Brand. From 1999-2004, the Bulls drafted first, fourth, fourth, second, seventh and third respectively and also had the second pick in the 2006 draft. As a result, the team’s roster has been filled with young players who finally began to show promise by taking the Bulls to the playoffs in the past several years.
However, after the horrendous 2007-08 season, the Bulls found themselves back in the lottery and had a 1.7 per cent chance of getting the first pick. Well, apparently miracles do happen – and the Bulls won the first pick and took University of Memphis point guard Derrick Rose with top choice in the draft.
Chicago’s tumultuous offseason didn’t end there. The Bulls needed to address the restricted free agency of both Luol Deng and Ben Gordon. They locked up Deng with a six-year deal and Gordon eventually signed a one-year qualifying offer. Otherwise, the team did not make any major roster additions.
Projected Starting Lineup
Basically, your guess is as good as mine. The Bulls have so much depth that even Del Negro doesn’t know who he is going to start. During the preseason, the team has tried out several different starting lineups. Here is my projection for opening day:
PG: Kirk Hinrich
SG: Larry Hughes
SF: Luol Deng
PF: Drew Gooden
C: Joakim Noah
Key Bench Players: Rose, Gordon, Andres Nocioni, Tyrus Thomas, Thabo Sefolosha
At which spot isn’t there a battle? At point guard, the struggles of Hinrich and the drafting of Rose has led to a competition. At the shooting guard spot, Hughes thinks he should be the starter, while Gordon wants big-time money and big-time minutes. At the power forward spot, Gooden will get the nod over Thomas.
Stud: With the Bulls’ depth and a rotation that goes 10 deep, there is not a true fantasy stud on this roster. All the Bulls will have on and off nights and it’s very difficult to count on any single guy. Deng would be the most notable guy, but he is coming off a very disappointing season. Gooden has been solid since his trade from the Cavs last season and he should see a ton of minutes this season.
Dud: Is it possible for one team to have so many studs and duds? Almost every player on this team can fall into either category on any given night. Moral of the story – the Bulls have so much depth and will play so many guys, that fantasy owners should expect inconsistent results from all their major assets.
Sleeper: Noah is the potential breakout player that fantasy owners should monitor. With his rookie season struggles and frustrations behind him, he will see steady minutes this year and should flourish.
Rookies to Watch: Rose, of course, is the man here. He is a dynamic game-changing point guard – the complete opposite of Hinrich. It remains to be seen how many minutes Rose will see this year, but his potential as a scorer and someone who can rack up steals and assists makes him one of the top fantasy rookies to go after.
Fantasy Stories to Watch
Who is going to step up this year for the Bulls? Will Hinrich, Deng and Gordon return to their level of success from two seasons ago? Can Thomas, Gooden and Noah anchor the Bulls’ frontcourt? So many question marks…but the Bulls have plenty of fantasy assets.