As Bulls players begin to trickle in to the Berto Center to prepare for what could be a very special season, CSNChicago.com is getting fans ready to hit the ground running, too.
NBA training camps don't open until the end of the month, but from Monday through Friday up until Bulls' media day, we're discussing everything from Derrick Rose's comeback to the top competition in the Eastern Conference — with a twist.
CSNChicago.com has compiled the insights of anonymous behind-the-scenes league insiders (an assistant coach, a front-office executive, a retired player and an advanced scout), to go along with in-depth reporter breakdowns and complementary statistical analysis to ensure that die-hard hoops fans are up to speed when the balls officially start bouncing.
Today’s Topic: What is the Bulls’ biggest weakness?
"Besides Mike Dunleavy, they don’t have another dead-eye shooter, the Kyle Korver that people are just going to run out at the three-point line.
"I know Luol Deng can really make threes, especially from that right-wing area; he’s been a good corner three-point shooter. But they’re going to have to prove that they can knock down that perimeter jump shot — Derrick, especially, coming off his year-long absence.
[RELATED: How much of an impact will Mike Dunleavy make?]
"Dunleavy’s the only guy that can stretch that defense like Korver did. Jimmy Butler -- I think -- will be more of a mid-range guy right now, slasher, cutter, driver. They’re going to have to prove that they can knock those shots down."
It’s pretty clear this source thought extremely highly of Kyle’s contributions in Chicago, isn’t it? Dunleavy’s not quite in the same elite class as a pure shooter, but he’s close, but I think the bigger point he’s making is that the Bulls don’t have multiple threats at that level from behind the arc.
Upon last seeing Derrick, he was indeed a much-improved long-range shooter, albeit a volume guy and somebody who mostly took those shots off the dribble. I believe we’ll see even more progress when he gets into rhythm, but that might not be reflected in his percentage, due to all the defensive attention he receives.
[RELATED: Can the Bulls be more efficient 3-point shooters?]
I think Luol will greatly benefit from Derrick’s presence, as he should get a lot more open looks. The same goes for Kirk Hinrich, who’s always been streaky from deep. I don’t see Jimmy necessarily replicating what he did in the second half of last season, when his shooting numbers were ridiculous, but I do think he’ll settle in as a reliable outside threat, even with defenders being more conscious of his ability to knock down shots. Arguably right behind Dunleavy as a shooter on the Bulls is rookie Erik Murphy, based on his Florida career and what I’ve heard about him in workouts at the Berto, though I doubt he’ll have a lot of opportunities to show it. Tony Snell, the other rookie, is in the same boat, and while he could see some minutes, his shooting ability won’t be as much of a focal point as his defense.
I’ve never been of the mindset that the Bulls definitely need that “second superstar” or another elite scorer to win a title in this current NBA landscape, but I do think they need more offensive diversity. Given that Thibs is reluctant to experiment with smaller lineups (his commitment to inside-out basketball, even with Derrick back, is a core philosophy and size is paramount to that ideal) and as stout as the Bulls’ defense has been, they aren’t a team to force a lot of turnovers and thusly, get a lot of easy transition opportunities (though Derrick’s return and having another upper-echelon athlete alongside him in Jimmy could mean they manufacture a few more fastbreak points), so beyond Derrick’s individual scoring spurts, being a better-shooting team will be of supreme importance this season.
[MORE: What is Jimmy Butler's ceiling?]
Tuesday: Can the Bulls reclaim the Central from the Pacers?