Well most people understand that the city of Chicago is world renowned for it's love of Jazz music and the city is still a jazz hot spot in America, but this is not the jazz I am referring to. I am pointing to the fact that the Bulls three free agent signings this offseason have all come from the Utah Jazz. The more I think about it the more I like the idea of a team name swap between the Bulls and Jazz. I mean there has to be far more cows in Utah then in the city of Chicago right? I digress. The real point of this thread is to look at the moves the Bulls have made and determine their place in the east.
Carlos Boozer. It seems pretty clear to most fans and experts alike that LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh planned on playing with eachother from the get go. The only real question was were it was going to happen and in the end that place was the Miami Heat. That being the case the Bulls' management has made all the right moves with what was left. I am on record for liking David Lee for the Bulls over Carlos Boozer mainly because I felt that Lee would come cheaper. I was wrong. Boozer ended up being the cheaper option and in many ways the better fit. The Bulls have been lacking a back to the basket scorer since Elton Brand was traded away ten years ago. To be a contender a team must have an inside out game. Just about every championship team in history had a playmaker/outside scorer coupled with a scoring bigman. You will be hard pressed to find a historic team that lacked one of those two. The Chicago Bulls of the 90's are clearly the only dynasty to lack a star bigman. Boozer gives the Bulls one of the best offensive bigman in the game today and when I say offensive I do not just mean scoring. Boozer is one of the best passing bigman in the game and he is also one of the best at running the pick and roll and the pick and pop. He also knows were to be to grab offensive rebounds and he is also good for setting a solid pick. His defense is average but is better then Amar'e Stoudemire's or Chris Bosh's. He is a hustler and a perfect fit to play alongside Joakim Noah.
The real deal with Boozer however is his back to the basket game and his ability to draw the double team. The Bulls have never really had a post player on the level of Boozer that can draw the double team. Now imagine the decisions defenders will have to make. Rose demanded the double team on the perimeter just about everytime he touched the ball last season. Infact, in the playoffs the Cavaliers ended up putting LeBron on Rose but he still averaged 27 points per game. Now teams will have to worry about throwing the double on Rose because Boozer is so good at finishing around the basket they will risk getting scored on in the paint with a simple bounce pass from Rose. Last season the Bulls did not have this. Defenders could rotate off their man to slow down Rose. What happens if Rose drives? Nothing good for other teams for sure. Again boozer gives Rose that inside scorer to pass to when team colapse on him. Lastly, with regards to the Rose/Boozer paring, the PnR and PnP game between Rose and Boozer will be one of the best in the league. Rose shoots a high level jumper from inside 18 and word is he has worked on his three point shooting all summer and is said to have gotton it nailed down. Boozer is also a very good jump shooter as well. This will be the bread and butter for the Bulls this season and should be a nightmare for opposing teams.
The pairing of Joakim Noah and Boozer is also one of the better combos in the paint in the NBA. In some ways they are like oil and water in regards to the style of play but together they are a perfect match. The Bulls led the league last season in rebounding and now have added Boozer so it is likely they will reclaim mark this season as well. Noah is the ultimate team hustle player and while his jump shot and scoring in general is below average he excels at everything else. He is a top rebounder and shot blocker and is one of the nastiest post defenders in the game. Boozer may be a good rebounder but he is not a shot blocker of a great defender. Noah will be right there to put back Boozer's missed shots or take the pass from Boozer if he gets the double team. Both Noah and Boozer have high basketball IQs and both can handle the ball and make the pass. In my eyes they are a great match.
Boozer's effect will be felt beyond just Rose and Noah. Luol Deng and the other shooters will benefit from Boozer drawing defenders into the paint and they will surly be on the receiving end of many passes from Boozer for open looks.
Kyle Korver. I understand that this is not a sexy signing. Nothing really looks that sexy after the moves that the Heat made but it filled another big need for the Bulls. Last season the Bulls lacked a player that could hit from beyond the arc. With Ben Gordon gone so was the threat from downtown. Teams were able to colapse on Rose when he drove the lane and they were able to play loose defense in general on the perimeter. Korver will come off the bench but should still see big mintutes. About 25 minutes a game. He will play behind Deng and Brewer and will give the Bulls instant offense off the bench. Korver is a bit one dimensional and is known mainly for his great shooting ability but he is a solid passer and can grad a few rebounds. His defense is a bit below average but is not bad. He was not signed to defend he was signed to hit big shots in close games and he will do just that.
Ronnie Brewer. Well the Bulls did not get their first choice which was the Magic's J.J. Reddick, but in many ways Brewer might be the better longterm choice and he came quite a bit cheaper at nearly 8 million less over three years. The Bulls really wanted to add a shooting guard that could shoot from beyond the arc and Brewer is clearly not the player, but he is still a great fit. Two years ago many thought Brewer was going to become a star in this league. Maybe not a superstar but many felt he could average near 20 points a game. However he got injured last season but is back in shape and he offers the Bulls an athletic and big shooting guard that can both drive and finish and control the ball. He is able to run the offense as well as play off the ball and he could be an intersting fit with Rose if Rose's three point shooting is as good as people are saying it is now. Brewer can at times run the offense and in turn make Rose the off guard. Brewer's drive to the hoop will draw defenders and he can simple kick it to Rose who could either shoot the jumper of take teams off guard by driving himself. The bottomline is that Brewer may indeed offer the Bulls more options on offense then Reddick would have and Brewer is a better defender then Reddick to boot. It has been quite some time since the Bulls had a shooting guard that could dunk the ball with little effort. Gordon rarely did and I am not sure if I ever saw Kirk Hinrich do it so that should be fun to watch for a change.
More signings to come. The Bulls are not done making moves. They are talking with Brad Miller right now about him resigning and they are saif to be looking at both Matt Barnes and a backup Point Guard. The Bulls will certainly add two more solid roleplayers to this team making them one of the deepest teams in the league. I unterstand that depth can often be over-rated and that teams need superstars to be elite, but Boozer is clearly a star and Rose is on pace to have a breakout season and become a superstar. Last season he ranked 14th overall in points per game and I only see his scoring and assist numbers going up this year with a complete team around him. The Bulls also signed Turkish center Omer Asik. If the Bulls resign Brad Miller I am sure we will see very little of him on the floor, but I have watched a bit of tape on this guy and he looks like he could be useful for a few solid minutes each game. He has length and is a good shot blocker and has some solid post moves but he is really just a project and I do not have high hopes that he will ever be a true contributor to this team.
So were do these moves put the Bulls in the east? Not really an easy question. Most have the Heat going to the Finals as they seem to be adding solid roleplayers around the big three. I would not count out the Celtics or the Magic either. I think the Bulls fall in place with those 2. I think they could compete with any of them in the playoffs but the Heat seem to be the team to beat. The Celtics are aging and may fall down a few notches this season but I thought the same thing last summer so I will hold my tongue on that one. The Magic have not made any real moves so I am not so sure they will make it out of the east. The bottomline is that the Bulls have a shot and are a true contender for the first time since MJ left town.
Here is how I see the playoff seedings looking like next season in the east.
1. Heat (62 wins)
2. Magic (56 wins)
3. Bulls (51 wins)
4. Celtics (49 wins)
5. Bucks (48 wins)
6. Hawks (46 wins)
7. Bobcats (43 wins)
8. Knicks (41 wins)