Chicago Bulls

Schanowski: Rose off to MVP-caliber start

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Schanowski: Rose off to MVP-caliber start

Sunday, Oct. 31, 2010
7:08 PM
By Mark Schanowski
CSNChicago.com

Heres a few observations after watching the first two games of the 82 game NBA marathon for the Bulls. As always, were interested in what you think. Please post your comments in the section below.

1. DERRICK ROSE REALLY DOES WANT TO BE IN THE MVP DISCUSSION

Remember back on Bulls Media Day when Derrick responded to a question about his individual goals for the coming season by saying. Why cant I be the best player in the league? Well, even though its only been two games so far, Rose is playing at an MVP level, averaging 33.5 points and 6.5 assists. Yes, he is shooting more than either he or the coaching staff would prefer, but with Luol Deng and Kyle Korver off to slow starts, the Bulls offense doesnt have the kind of balance we expected. Derrick has been a high-volume shooter by necessity, not by choice, and he singlehandedly rescued the Bulls from an embarrassing home court loss to Detroit, scoring 22 of his career-high matching 39 points in the 2nd half.

Rose worked hard all summer to improve his 3-point shooting, and hes probably the toughest point guard in the league to defend right now.

2. JOAKIM NOAH MIGHT JOIN ROSE IN THIS SEASONS ALL-STAR GAME

Talk about coming out with a vengeance, Joakim Noah has played like a man on a mission through the first two games, averaging 16.5 points and 18 rebounds. I had a discussion with my studio partner, Kendall Gill, about where Noah ranks among the Easts top centers. Kendall says he has Noah number 2 behind Dwight Howard, and Im starting to think hes right. Andrew Bogut and Brook Lopez may be better scorers, and Noahs University of Florida teammate, Al Horford, made the All-Star team as the Easts back-up center last season, but its hard to imagine any of those guys beating out Noah if he continues to play at the pace hes set during the opening week. Thank goodness it looks like Noahs foot problems are in the past thanks to new shoes complete with customized orthotics.

3. TAJ GIBSON STILL A VALUABLE PIECE OF BULLS PUZZLE

When the Bulls signed Carlos Boozer as a free agent this past summer, most people expected Gibson to be relegated to a lightly-used back-up, who might have to play some center to get additional minutes. Well, because of Boozers hand injury, Gibson is still in the starting line-up. He scored 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the season opener at Oklahoma City, and then scored 11 big points in the come-from-behind win over Detroit. Taj is extremely active on the offensive glass, giving the Bulls 2nd chance opportunities, and hes an underrated scorer. Even when Boozer comes back, Gibson will find his niche as an ultra-aggressive frontcourt banger who wont have to worry about the foul problems that sometimes limit his play as a starter.

4. BULLS NEED KYLE KORVER ON THE FLOOR

Maybe Korver is still struggling because of the ankle injury he suffered during the pre-season, but his presence in the line-up forces opposing defenses to alter their approach against the Bulls. When Korver hit that three pointer in the 4th quarter against the Pistons, their entire defensive philosophy seemed to change. All of a sudden, they were paying extra attention to Korver coming off screens, allowing Rose more opportunities to break down his man in half-court sets. And, with more defensive attention on Korver, Rose was also able to get the ball to Gibson and James Johnson for some easy baskets down the stretch. Tom Thibodeau has said repeatedly Korver needs to improve his defense, and the truth is, if he doesnt do a good job on the defensive end, his minutes will be limited. But, the Bulls gave him that 3 year, 15 million dollar contract for his ability to shoot the ball from long range, and space the floor for Rose and Boozer. Thibodeau needs to get Korver as many minutes as possible for the Bulls half-court offense to flourish.

5. SHOOTING GUARD POSITION COULD BE A PROBLEM

Its no secret the Bulls would have loved the chance to sign Joe Johnson in last summers free agent derby, and pair him with Rose. But Atlanta blew everyone out of the water by signing Johnson to a max contract that theyll likely come to regret in the coming years. The Bulls then focused their attention on Orlandos sharp-shooting J.J. Redick, but the Magic chose to match a front-loaded offer sheet that many NBA observers thought would be too rich for their blood given the fact they were already well over the leagues luxury tax threshold. That left the Bulls pursuing down the line free agents like Ronnie Brewer, Keith Bogans and C.J. Watson. All of those players have their strengths, but none is really the ideal compliment to Rose. Bulls management looked into the possibility of acquiring Portlands dynamic shooting guard Rudy Fernandez, but the Blazers wouldnt make the deal for just the Bulls first round draft pick, which figures to be somewhere in the 20s. As a result, the Bulls look like they might be a shooter short right now, but that could change quickly once Korver gets over his ankle issues and Deng starts to heat up.

6. BOOZER CANT GET BACK QUICK ENOUGH

For years, weve been talking about the Bulls lack of a classic low-post scorer, and they addressed that need over the summer by signing Boozer. But until his broken finger heals and he can get comfortable with his new teammates, the Bulls are very much a work in progress. Its crucial they find a way to stack up some wins with five of their next six games at home before the dreaded Circus trip out west. Boozer should provide a lot of options for the Bulls half-court offense, easing the reliance on Rose to create something almost every time down the floor. If you havent watched Carlos much over the years, hes a perfect fit for the Bulls system because of his ability to score in the post, run the high screen and roll with Rose, and also hit the 15 to 17 foot jumper with consistency. Plus, hes averaging double figure rebounds over his career. Carlos, heal up soon. Your teammates REALLY miss you.

So, what do you think of the Bulls 1-1 start? Please post your comments in the section below, or send me an e-mail. Should be an interesting week ahead with home games against Portland and the Knicks, followed by a trip to Boston on Friday. Enjoy the hoops, and well be talking to you on SportsNet Central at 6:30 and 10.

Mark Schanowski hosts our Bulls pre- and postgame studio coverage with 15-year NBA veteran Kendall Gill. You can also watch Mark on SportsNet Central, Sunday through Thursday at 6:30 and 10.

If the Bulls buy out Dwyane Wade, the Heat seem like they'd welcome him back

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USA TODAY

If the Bulls buy out Dwyane Wade, the Heat seem like they'd welcome him back

The Bulls are in complete rebuild mode, and that means they have little use for 35-year-old Dwyane Wade.

ESPN's Nick Friedell reported last week that it's a matter of when - not if - the Bulls will buy out Wade. The future Hall of Famer is due $24 million this upcoming season, but how much Wade receives in a potential buyout could hold things up in the short-term.

The question then becomes: where would Wade land after he passes through waivers and becomes a free agent?

A potential destination is joining good friend LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. But Wade could also consider going back to the Miami Heat, where he spent the first 13 years of his NBA career.

And if he did, budding star Hassan Whiteside says the team would welcome back Wade with open arms.

"It'd be great," Whiteside told the Sun Sentinel. "It's a three-time NBA champion coming back, coming in and really helping a team out. It would be great."

Stay tuned, but it seems like a Wade-to-Miami reunion is a real possibility.

State of the Bulls: Stacked 2018 draft class

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USA TODAY

State of the Bulls: Stacked 2018 draft class

2018 draft class is loaded at the top

Quietly, you can bet Bulls' front office executives John Paxson and Gar Forman had a little celebration after hearing that prep star Marvin Bagley III was going to graduate from high school early and enroll at Duke for the 2017-18 season, making him eligible for the 2018 draft.

Bagley, a 6'11 power forward from Los Angeles, is being compared to longtime NBA star Chris Bosh, right down to his smooth left-handed shooting touch. Bagley averaged 24.6 points, 10.1 rebounds and two blocked shots during his junior season for Sierra Canyon H.S. He's also fared well against NBA competition at the highly-regarded Drew League in L.A. this summer. Bagley’s physical tools are off the charts, and you can count on Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski preparing him well for life in the NBA.

Most NBA scouts and execs expect the No. 1 overall pick to come down to either Bagley or Michael Porter Jr., who will play his one season of college basketball at Missouri. The 6'10 Porter averaged an amazing 34.8 points and 13.8 rebounds last season against Seattle high school competition. He's considered a more dynamic scorer than Bagley with more range on his jump shot. Some scouts believe he could quickly develop into one of the league's elite players with Kevin Durant-type length and shooting ability at the small forward position.

International swingman Luka Doncic is also highly coveted by NBA teams. The 6'8 swingman has excellent shooting range, and is also capable of creating his own shot with outstanding ball-handling ability. Forget the stereotype of European players being mechanical and unable to compete athletically, Doncic is capable of being an 18-20 point scorer in the NBA and should go in the top five next June. He's considered one of the best international prospects in the last decade.

Two 7-footers also will hear their names called early on draft night 2018. University of Arizona freshman DeAndre Ayton averaged 19.8 points and 12 rebounds in high school last season, while Texas freshman center Mohamed Bomba has an incredible 7-foot-9 wingspan. Sure, the NBA has moved away from the traditional low post center, but teams are still looking to acquire agile big men like Karl-Anthony Towns, Joel Embiid, DeAndre Jordan, Rudy Gobert and Hassan Whiteside. Depending on how they fare against top level college competition, Ayton and Bomba could round out the top five.

Other names to watch in the lottery portion of next year's draft include Texas A&M power forward Robert Williams, Michigan State's forward duo of Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson Jr., and the latest one-and-dones from John Calipari's Kentucky program, center Nick Richards and small forward Jarred Vanderbilt.

In case you missed it, ESPN released its preseason win total expectations for the Eastern Conference on Wednesday, and the Bulls were dead last with a projected record of 26-56. Now, I'm not sure a team with veterans Dwyane Wade and Robin Lopez and the three young players acquired in the Jimmy Butler trade with Minnesota will be quite that bad, but if you're going to rebuild, the idea is to get the best draft pick possible, and the Bulls appear to be on course for a top-five selection depending on how the lottery falls.

If the Bulls are able to land an elite talent like Porter Jr., Bagley III or Doncic in the draft, then use their $40-50 million in cap space to land a couple of quality free agents, the rebuild might not be as painful as some fans are fearing.

Last dance for LeBron in Cleveland?

Well-connected NBA writer Chris Sheridan dropped this bomb on Twitter Wednesday, quoting an NBA source, "This will be LeBron's final season in Cleveland. He is 100 percent leaving. Relationship with owners beyond repair." Don’t forget, Sheridan was the first national writer to report James was going to leave Miami to go back to Cleveland in 2014, so his reports definitely warrant a little extra attention.

Okay, we've already heard countless rumors about James planning to join the Lakers after next season. He's built a mansion in Brentwood, is close with Magic Johnson and will be able to bring another superstar with him to L.A. like Paul George or Russell Westbrook. Plus, the Lakers have a number of talented young players in place like Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. and a promising coach in Luke Walton.

Add in the likelihood Kyrie Irving will be traded before training camp opens and LeBron's long-standing poor relationship with Cavs' owner Dan Gilbert, and you have the perfect formula for another James' free agent decision next July. Although, I'm not sure why LeBron would want to go West, where Golden State is positioned to dominate the league for another five seasons, with strong challengers like the Rockets and Spurs still in place. 

But if we've learned anything from watching James over the years, he's clearly a man who wants to align the odds in his favor. So don't rule out anything when it comes to James' free agent decision. If the Cavs make a home run trade for Irving, maybe LeBron decided to plays out his career in his home state. If not, look for him to find a team with the cap space to bring in another top star to run with him.

Back in 2010, the Bulls carved out the cap space to add two max contract stars, but lost out to Pat Riley in Miami. This time around they won't be on James' July travel itinerary.

One thing we know for sure. Where LeBron plays in 2018 will be the number one story throughout the NBA season.