The Chicago Bulls are gearing up for the NBA season and the team appear to be hell bent in emerging victorious once they come face to face once again with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The previous NBA seasons saw the Chicago Bulls lose to LeBron James' team, and one of the main reasons cited for the loss is the injury of Derrick Rose. While fans and followers may never be completely sure on whether the Chicago Bulls would have won had Derrick Rose played that night, the health of the NBA star remains as an issue this season.
With the concerns on Derrick Rose's health in mind, the Chicago Bulls now turn to Jimmy Butler. The previous NBA season saw how the younger player managed to lead the team and shock fans with respect to his ability to pull the Chicago Bulls out from the gutter following the injury of Derrick Rose. His contributions to the performance of the Chicago Bulls last year did not go unnoticed though, as reflected in his higher ranking in Sports Illustrated's Top 100 basketball stars. Last year, Jimmy Butler ranked No. 98 in the list. With the noticeable improvements he exhibited this season, the Chicago Bulls star is now placed at the 18th spot - a considerable leap from the bottom to the top.
"Butler, 25, was the breakout player of the 2014-15 campaign, a hungry and tireless defensive stopper who emerged overnight as a 20-point scorer due to necessity and injuries around him," described Ben Golliver and Rob Mahoney of Sports Illustrated. The duo added, "The 6'7" Butler has always been an imposing defender, but 2014-15 was the first time he truly discovered how to put his strength to full use as an offensive threat."
Apart from Jimmy Butler rising as an unstoppable offense weapon, the Chicago Bulls also got themselves a scoring machine. Golliver and Mahoney went on to say, "His scoring improvements came from a variety of sources: he had his best year shooting from outside, he bullied his way to the line with aggressive drives like never before, he hit the offensive boards hard for a wing player, and he exuded a "Jimmy Buckets" confidence from opening night that hadn't existed during his first three seasons."
Meanwhile, Chicago Bulls star player Derrick Rose seem to be spiraling. Ranked at No. 60 this year, Derrick Rose fell quite far from his previous spot of No. 23. According to Golliver and Mahoney, the Derrick Rose of today is merely a shadow of the Chicago Bulls star he was then. During his best years, "ferocious off-the-dribble game was practically an offense in and of itself for the Bulls." However, those days of excellence appear to be nowhere in sight as Derrick Rose continue to succumb to knee injuries.
As for veteran Pau Gasol, Phil Watson of Hoops Habit think that the 35-year-old could still bring glory to the Chicago Bulls this NBA season. Pau Gasol is expected to lead the rebounding record of the Chicago Bulls this season, with the possibility of once again landing an All-Star status alongside Jimmy Butler. Meanwhile, Joakim Noah is projected to deliver a repeat of his Defensive Player of the Year version this NBA season. As Joakim Noah recovers from his knee injury and Pau Gasol coming in this NBA season healthy as ever, the Chicago Bulls could become yet another contender gunning for the crown of the Golden State Warriors.