No one should be surprised if the Bulls’ season looks better after the fact than it does through the journey, as everyone knows they have June dreams but May realities that usually stop at the feet of LeBron James’ Nike’s.
Fred Hoiberg’s new offense will take some getting used to, as well as the fact that he’ll have to juggle multiple starting lineups and changing rotations through the season.
Because continuity never seems to be a friend of the Bulls. They spend more time adjusting to new temporary realities that are more about circumstance than evolution. The Golden State Warriors realized Draymond Green was exactly what they needed in the frontcourt as a pick-and-roll defender, rebounder and floor-spreader, thus relegating David Lee to the bench.
Is the Bulls’ promotion of Nikola Mirotic the same thing or merely a function of the Joakim Noah-Pau Gasol pairing not doing as much as the front office thought it would when the Bulls swooped down on Gasol and he rewarded their faith with a career year? Is Noah a shell of himself, or willing to fully embrace this new role in a contract year?
And we haven’t even gotten to Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler having to learn how to play together as a backcourt where both players can claim top billing on the marquee? Considering they don’t have much experience looking eye-to-eye in terms of placing on the team hierarchy, it takes time — and as we know, controversy, be it real or contrived, is sure to follow if the road isn’t as smooth as many expect.
So if the best indicator of future behavior being past behavior serves true, the Bulls will take another step forward offensively while taking a half-step backward defensively, as they seemed to do in Tom Thibodeau’s last year. Then again, though, this year is the set up for the offseason, when the Bulls will be flush with cash and able to actually evolve due to flexibility.
So the Bulls are learning a new system, will go through integrating players in and out as injuries always seem to hit this franchise as well as adjusting to a annually weird schedule because of United Center commitments and oh yeah, having a head coach who has yet to roam the sidelines in an actual NBA game — not a recipe for the smoothest ride.
[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]
But just because it’s not smooth doesn’t mean it won’t be mildly successful, depending on your standards.
If it’s a 50-win season, you’ll be happy. If you’re expecting a Finals appearance, you’ll be disappointed again because James — or someone else — will knock them out in the second round this year.
Unless Rose turns back the clock.
If that happens, all bets are off.