Five things Bulls fans can be thankful for this Thanksgiving

Five things Bulls fans can be thankful for this Thanksgiving
November 28, 2013, 8:00 pm
Share This Post
Mark Strotman

It's a cliche and admittedly overused topic on Thanksgiving, but following Derrick Rose's season-ending surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee it's only fitting that Bulls fans take a step back and realize there's still plenty to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Here they are, in no particular order:

1. The bargain that is Jimmy Butler

He seems to have been somewhat forgotten post-Rose injury because he's currently resting a turf-toe injury, but the Bulls' third year swingman is one of the best bargains in the NBA. He'll make $1.174 million this season and $2.2 million before the Bulls can offer him a qualifying offer or attempt to lock him up long-term in 2015. Either way, the Bulls struck gold with the final pick of the 2011 NBA Draft. Not only is Butler one of the bright young stars in the game; he's also one of the biggest bargains in the league. It would make sense for Chicago to lock up Butler in the coming years, but for now Bulls fans can be thankful he's under team control at less than $4 million combined the next two seasons.

2. Nikola Mirotic's future

What the Bulls roster looks like next season is a bit of a mystery, but one name that should be there is Nikola Mirotic. The No. 24 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft has become one of the best European players and is set to arrive in Chicago next season. The 22-year-old stands 6-foot-10 and has a fantastic inside-out game, meaning the Bulls have another potential star in the making. Questions about the team's depth hopefully can be quieted by a bright star overseas whose game projects to the NBA level, too. With the right coaching, Mirotic could become a star.

3. A coach who cares

The Bulls roster without Derrick Rose is still a talented one, and Tom Thibodeau coaches the last player on the bench the same as he coaches Luol Deng. There's something to be said for a coach who expects the most out of his team, even when the franchise player has just been ruled out a second straight season. Bulls fans are lucky to have Tom Thibodeau and his unique and successful coaching tactics. It will pay dividends down the line when the likes of Jimmy Butler, Tony Snell and others become veterans.

4. A weak Eastern Conference

Whether or not you want the Bulls to "tank" (they won't), the reality is there's still a solid chance they finish with the No. 3 seed in the incredibly weak Eastern Conference. It's safe to dub the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat the top two seeds, but past the frontrunners no other team is emerging as a contender. Both the Knicks and Nets are struggling terribly out East, meaning there's still a way the Bulls -- behind three former All-Stars -- can contend for the East's No. 3 seed and a potential playoff push. Its' a long shot, but it's warranted to be thankful for an Eastern Confernce that currently touts two teams better than .500 and only two more at .500.

5. A strong draft class

The Bulls roster may look different, but even if it does they won't be penalized for picking outside the lottery. Everyone talks about the Jabari Parkers, the Andrew Wiggins' and the Marcus Smarts', but there's also plenty of talent projected to go in the second half of the first round in next June's NBA Draft. The Bulls, no matter where they pick, will find a high-impact player. It's the state of this draft class, and while there are franchise players near the top of the class, there is also major-upside talent to be had late into the first round and early second round.