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Team Preview #22: Chicago Bulls

by Eric Wong AKA Roto Evil

September 1st, 2008


The Bulls were one of the favorites in the East after winning 49 games in '06-07. But after going 9-16 to start the season, Scott Skiles was promptly fired, and Chicago ended up losing 49 games in '07-08.

They attempted 83.7 field goals per game, which was 5th most, but the ball just wouldn't go in the hole, as they finished dead last in FG% at 43.5%.


Key Additions: Vinny Del Negro, Derrick Rose, Omer Asik?
Key Losses: Jim Boylan, Chris Duhon, Ben Gordon?

After retiring as a player in 2002, Del Negro worked for the Suns as a radio commentator, was promoted to Director of player personnel in 2006, and then became Assistant General Manager in 2007. With no prior coaching experience, he seems like a risky pick to replace former Head Coach Jim Boylan (who replaced Skiles last season). From '90-92, Del Negro played in Italy for Benetton Treviso, the same team that Mike D'Antoni would coach just a couple years later. Can Vinny turn around the Bulls like Mike did the Suns?

Incidentally, point guard Chris Duhon left Chicago to become D'Antoni's new floor general in NY, but the Bulls didn't mind replacing him with Derrick Rose, the #1 overall pick in the '08 draft. Rose (who turns 20 on October 1st) played just 1 season at Memphis University, but he led his team to the NCAA Championship game and a 38 win season (an NCAA record). He's not very polished, but his physical skills are thru the roof. Omer Asik is a 22-year old center prospect from Turkey whom the Bulls wanted so badly that they traded away three future 2nd round picks to select him. Why is there a question mark next to his name? Because he recently signed a 5-year deal with NO ESCAPE CLAUSE to stay with his team in Turkey!

While there's also a question mark next to Ben Gordon's name, just two weeks ago he stated that, "it's safe to say I've played my last game in a Bulls uniform." He's not going to sign the Bulls' one-year qualifying offer of $6.4 million, so his agent is currently pursuing a sign-and-trade deal. If that doesn't happen, it sounds like Gordon is more than willing to take more money to play in Europe. He could probably average 30 ppg overseas, so it wouldn't surprise me if he goes usain and bolts.


Let's start in the backcourt, where BG's likely departure makes it a little easier to project playing time. Kirk Hinrich averaged just 31.7 minutes in '07-08, but played 35-37 minutes in each of the 4 seasons prior. I'll project 33-35 mpg for him in a bounceback '08-09 season. While Rose may not be ready for big minutes just yet, the Bulls will likely thrust him into the starting lineup. I'm projecting 28-30 minutes for him as a rookie. Larry Hughes put up a pathetic 11.9 PER in '07-08, the lowest mark of his career. As a result, I think his 29.7 minutes from last season will fall to around 24, his lowest average since his early years with Philly. 3rd year man Thabo Sefolosha should also get 18-20 minutes backing up both swingman spots.

At small forward, Luol Deng averaged 33.7 minutes last season, but 37.5 the year before, so I'll project 35-36 mpg for him in '08-09. At power forward, Drew Gooden received 31.0 minutes of action and played fairly well after being traded to Chicago. He's in his prime (turns 27 later this month), so the Bulls will be counting on him for 30-32 solid minutes every night. Backing up both forward spots will be Andres Nocioni. I would love to see Noce average 30 mpg, but he'll likely be stuck in the mid-20's as usual. At the end of last season, Joakim Noah averaged 28.3 mpg in 31 starts, so I'll project the same minutes for him in '08-09. Tyrus Thomas (17.9 mpg) and Aaron Gray (10.0 mpg) will battle for the remaining big man minutes. Is Thomas ready to step up and take on a bigger role?

DON'T SLEEP ON: Joakim Noah

In 31 starts last season, Noah averaged 9.2 points, 7.2 boards, 1.2 steals, and 1.2 blocks in 28.3 minutes per game while shooting 51.2% from the field. Last season, the only players to average 1+ steal and 1+ block per game while shooting over 50% FG were Kevin Garnett, Shawn Marion, Andrei Kirilenko, and Kenyon Martin, so if Noah could do that over a full season, he would be joining select company. Additionally, Noah shot just 64.2% from the line before the All-Star break, but a decent 73.7% afterwards. And while there's no guarantee that Joakim can duplicate these stats, he should get the opportunity to do so. So if you need a big man in the later rounds, don't be afraid to roll the dice on Noah.

BE CAREFUL OF: Derrick Rose

In fantasy drafts, you should always be careful of the most recent #1 pick, but Derrick Rose especially worries me. For starters, his college stats aren't that impressive. With his speed & athleticism, you'd think he would average more than the 1.2 steals and .4 blocks that he did at Memphis. His 47.7% FG shooting was ok, but he shot just 33.7% 3P and 71.2% FT. Being a poor 3-point shooter is one thing, but making just 71% of your freebies when you get to the line a lot is a cause for concern.

And while Rose is considered a point guard, his assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.74 wasn't all that special, suggesting that his transition to PG in the NBA might be more difficult than expected. Sure enough, Rose struggled in Summer League play, a setting where you'd expect the #1 overall pick to dominate. In his defense, he was rusty and dealing with knee problems, but those are just more reasons to shy away from him. As the top pick, someone is going to draft him too soon, but I would be shocked if he finishes the season as a Top 100 fantasy player.


(Where you should draft these guys in an 8-cat Roto league with 12 teams and 14 man rosters)

Deng: 6th - 7th
Hinrich: 8th - 9th
Gooden: 9th - 10th
Noah: 10th - 11th
Rose: 11th - 12th
Thomas & Nocioni: Last round
Hughes & Sefolosha: Don't draft (but watch if there's an injury)
Ben Gordon: ???

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