Home » Blog » How the Bulls Keep on Winning

How the Bulls Keep on Winning

Nobody expected the Chicago Bulls to do much this season. Missing their best player, and one of the best players in all of basketball, has a tendency to lower expectations. However, the Bulls have confounded all expectations and played well above them, trademarks of the Tom Thibodeau era. They’re winning because of two other trademarks of Thibs’ era: rebounding and defense. That was never more apparent than in the Bulls’ January 21 95-83 victory over the slumping and stalled out Los Angeles Lakers. Even Kobe Bryant was complimentary of the defense-minded scheme Thibodeau has implemented in Chicago.

“Thibs does a great job,” Bryant said. “Every time he faces me he does a great job. Most of the looks I had tonight were tough shots. Some of the credit goes to the young fellow. Butler did a good job defensively. A lot of that is on me and us, having to try to manufacture something 30 feet from the hoop with a low shot clock is tough.”

Keep in mind, the Bulls are 24-16 without their best player, injured point guard Derrick Rose. However, as with many well-coached teams, the system can compensate for a lack of star power. The Bulls are third in the NBA in team defense, allowing only 91.5 points per game, ninth in assists and eighth in rebounding. It isn’t flashy, and you may not recognize the names of all the players if you’re a casual NBA fan, but the Bulls are one of the only true teams in the NBA. Every player understands their role and knows where they need to be. Of course, Thibodeau’s defensive schemes can only go so far without players on the other end of the floor scoring buckets, and come playoff time, they’re going to need some offensive firepower. Rose’s return could do that for them, but for now, they don’t need to rush their star back from rehabbing his knee. This team, as currently constructed, could easily grind their way into the playoffs.

“I like our team,” Thibodeau said. “You guys, I guess, you don’t believe me, but I believe we have more than enough. If we do the right things, we’re capable of beating anyone, any way. We have to continue to do that. I still think we have a lot of room for growth. That’s the way I want us to be… You guys are the ones who tell me this is a good team, this is a bad team. All I know is in the NBA, they’re all great teams. If you’re on a roster you’re a great player. Anybody is capable of beating you.”

Rose has even seen the floor lately for the Bulls in practice, albeit in a very limited role. His teammates couldn’t help but be excited for him as he makes his recovery. It’s tough not to be excited; can you imagine how good this Bulls team would be WITH their best player? The Bulls currently have a +2.3 point differential, scoring an admittedly low average of only 93.8 points per game. That differential is obviously due to their smothering defense, but it’s absolutely fantastic when you consider the caliber of offensive player on this team (Nate Robinson is getting significant minutes).

“We know it’s going to take time,” Bulls guard Richard Hamilton said of Rose’s recovery. “We just kind of allow Derrick to (be) him. It was good to see him just out on the floor moving around getting a little contact and things like that. With us we just want him to take his time … We didn’t do a whole lot of contact with him personally, but it’s one of them things when he’s out there he doesn’t want you to back up off of him because he wants to challenge himself.”

If the season ended today, the Bulls would be a five-seed. If Rose returns at any semblance of his former self, who knows how high that number (not to mention their scoring differential) will climb?

  • 100%