WARR contributor Josh Hicks offers his thoughts on the Chicago Bulls and the NBA
The first week of the 2016-17 NBA season was ecstatic! Damian Lillard is backing up his MVP talk and solidifying his place as a viable candidate for the Association’s top individual award, averaging 35 points per game and shooting 44 percent from the three-point line.
Russell Westbrook is showing the world its all good in OKC as he takes control without his so-called “brother” Kevin Durant in OKC, averaging a triple double with 39 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists a game.
Kawhi Leonard’s workouts with Kobe Bryant seem to be paying off as he increased his scoring average from 21 to 28 points per game for the Spurs, and Anthony Davis has been impressive while averaging 37 points a game and becoming the first player to record at least 45 points, 15 rebounds, five assists and five steals in one game since steals first began being recorded as an official stat 43 years ago.
But let us not forget about the hometown Chicago Bulls!
“Give me the hot sauce!” — The Bulls have jumped off to a hot 3-0 start and there are a couple reasons why we should be elated for this impressive start.
One reason is the establishment of this offense, which has quite a motor to it. The run-and-gun offense the Bulls prefer requires the guards to push the ball and put people in place to score the ball quickly as possible before the defense has a chance to set up. Having Rajon Rondo, a top-10 league leader in assists, as your floor general with two elite scorers in Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade on the wings and an effective bench, makes that offense a lot easier to efficiently run.
The Bulls made the correct personal decisions within the remaking of this roster and it is starting to pay off. This leads to my second point: improved chemistry among the Bulls roster and its coaching staff.
Upon the creation of the three alpha dogs, people questioned whether Rondo, Wade and Butler would be able to thrive together on the court. This start proves that these three are vibing together mentally and emotionally, and quite frankly are giving the coaching staff something they haven’t benefited from since the start of the Fred Hoiberg era started: trust.
Last season, players weren’t among the members of the Hoiberg bandwagon, very few were maybe outside the Bulls front office staff. The transition from a successful Tom Thibodeau era to a first year drop off for the Mayor had many Bulls fans thinking “was this the right move for this franchise?”
Now after a new start to do away thoughts of the past roller coaster season, Butler admits that he may have judged Hoiberg too early during his first year with him, and according to Yahoo! Sports, he now likes the coach and bigs up Hoiberg’s efforts to make himself better for the team.
“[Hoiberg] has definitely changed for the better,” Butler told Yahoo!’s Ball Don’t Lie blog. “He knows his guys a lot better now, which is great.”
At this point Bulls leaders are fueling this team, not depleting it, and have the guys moving in the right direction. Everyone is now on the same page with Hoiberg’s system, and players are really starting to bond on and off the court.
So far, this team leads the league in points scored at 114 a game, assists with 28 a game and second in rebounding with 55 a game according to league stats.
This is only the beginning of the season, but the stats show that with the right players, the system works, and it can only get better if they can stay healthy and continue to improve on both ends of the court. Bulls fans, this is something worth being exciting about.
Joshua M. Hicks is a sports writer and broadcaster and a recent graduate of Roosevelt University, follow him on Twitter @jhicks042