Chicago Bulls Fantasy Preview
The Baby Bulls officially grew up last year, going 15-4 to close out the year before bowing to the Washington Wizards in the first round of the playoffs. It marked not only the first time since 1998 that Chicago made the playoffs, but also the first time since that year that people admitted to being Bulls fans again. Head coach Scott Skiles has transformed the look of this squad from a bunch of clueless college kids to a group of young stars who are actually working together towards a common goal.
Key Bench Guys / Positional Battles:
THE GUY ON THIS TEAM THAT WE LOVE:
Before the Curry deal, it was Luol Deng. We’re still very high on the kid due his athleticism and all-round game, but the logjam at his position will make it very difficult for him to see the 30-35 minutes per game he’ll need to shine. The only hope is that Coach Skiles maybe goes with a smaller lineup often enough so that Deng can see time at the four spot while Tim Thomas is doing nothing at the three.
The deal does however open the door for Tyson Chandler to step in and be the inside force he’s capable of. Chandler started coming into his own last year after spending the last few seasons adjusting to life with the big boys. Chandler’s already a tremendous inside presence who can rebound and block shots, but doesn’t really possess too much of an offensive game. Luckily, this team loves to run and pass which means Chandler will benefit greatly by just making it down the court. With both Curry and Antonio Davis out of the picture, Chandler has absolutely no competition for minutes and should break out nicely this season.
THE GUYS ON THIS TEAM WE SUGGEST YOU AVOID:
Not that we’re suggesting that you were thinking about picking up Duhon ... but don’t. I guess this caution only goes out to the newbies who see that he’s starting and might benefit from just running the offense. While starting point guards are usually GREAT fantasy options, Duhon is essentially what Charlie Ward once was: a nice gritty player that gives everything he has but whose line won’t jump out at you in the box score.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN 2005:
Thanks to the immensely talented backcourt trio of Kirk Hinrich, Ben Gordon, and Luol Deng, this team has raised expectations considerably. But while the loss of Eddy Curry at the end of 2004-05 wasn’t really felt at all (remember they tore it up to close out the year), we’re still concerned that there’s a tremendous lack of size up front. Mike Sweetney and Tyson Chandler are both very capable, but a few too many fouls by either could spell disaster for the Bulls.
Fantasy-wise we’re excited to see Kirk Hinrich’s continued rise towards elite status. He’s looking more and more like a young Mark Price out there, and he’s only going to get better. His biggest weakness right now is obviously his FG percentage, but with the continued improvement of his teammates, we think that will be less of a problem going forward.
It will also be interesting to see what a confident Ben Gordon can do over a full season. Our prediction is that he contributes nicely with: 17 points per game, 150 three-pointers, and 85 percent FT.