Chicago Bulls: 2013 Player previews

Bulls player preview: Derrick Rose

September, 27, 2013
9/27/13
9:00
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Friedell By Nick Friedell
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With training camp almost here, Nick Friedell previews every player on the Bulls roster.

Derrick RoseIssac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty ImagesAll eyes will be on Derrick Rose this season as he returns from a year absence.

Derrick Rose

Age: 24 | Pos.: G | Salary: $17,632,688

Role for Bulls in 2013-14: The star. Bulls fans have been waiting to see Rose on the floor for over a year -- now it's time to see how he looks. Rose will be expected to lead the Bulls offensively, but it is unclear how much he will be able to undertake early given that he hasn't played in so long.
Obviously, the Bulls are going to go out of their way to make sure their franchise star feels comfortable heading into the year, but it will be up to Rose to be open with his coaches and Bulls executives as to how his knee is feeling day to day.

What happened this summer?: Rose continues to spend time in the gym with his longtime trainer Rob McClanaghan as he gets his body in order for the grind of another NBA season. He has done two promotional tours for adidas, one in which he traveled through Europe and another in which he is traveling through Asia. During a stop on the first tour, the former MVP made headlines by telling CNN that he still feels as if he is the best player in the NBA. That confidence bodes well for the soon-to-be 25-year-old moving forward.

What does the future hold?: That's what everybody is waiting to find out. If Rose can return to the form he had before his injury then all the criticism he took last year will be a thing of the past. If he struggles early to find his game, many fans will wonder if he will ever get back to the level he was at before he hurt his knee. It was a personal decision not to play last season for Rose, but it seems as if a portion of the fan base has stopped giving him the benefit of the doubt. His play is the only thing that can win back that group's trust again.

Bottom line: Rose controls his own future -- and that of the Bulls. If he plays well, almost all fans will cheer for him again and he will lead his team back to prominence. If not, Rose's reputation will continue to be questioned by people who believe he should have come back at some point last year to take some of the rust off.

Bulls player preview: Kirk Hinrich

September, 26, 2013
9/26/13
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Friedell By Nick Friedell
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With training camp almost here, Nick Friedell previews every player on the Bulls roster.

Kirk HinrichDavid Sherman/Getty ImagesKirk Hinrich will return to a backup role with Derrick Rose back in the lineup.

Kirk Hinrich

Age: 32 | Pos.: SG | Salary: $4,059,000

Role for Bulls in 2013-14: After an injury-plagued season that ended with him missing most of the Bulls' run to the Eastern Conference semifinals, Hinrich will head back to the bench this season, playing behind Derrick Rose. That should be a good move for the aging veteran, but it remains to be seen whether or not he will be able to stay healthy regardless of how many minutes he plays.

What happened this summer?: Hinrich spent time getting his body back in order. He sounded optimistic about his health and the Bulls' chances during a golf outing last month.

"I'm very excited," Hinrich said. "We have most of our guys back. We had some great additions. The anticipation of Derrick coming back healthy -- and it sounds like he's motivated. We think we have a very good chance and it will be very good."

What does the future hold?: This is likely the last year Hinrich will make major money in the league. With his injury history, teams may not want to invest a lot of money in him given his inability to stay on the floor. In the short term, he is a solid backup behind Rose and is one of the most respected players in the Bulls' locker room.

Bottom line: Hinrich can still play at a high level in this league but he must find a comfort level as far as keeping his health intact.

Bulls player preview: Mike Dunleavy Jr.

September, 25, 2013
9/25/13
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Friedell By Nick Friedell
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With training camp almost here, Nick Friedell previews every player on the Bulls roster.

DunleavyRob Grabowski/USA TODAY SportsThe Bulls hope Mike Dunleavy can sink some long-range shots this season.

Mike Dunleavy Jr.

Age: 33 | Pos.: SG | Salary: $3,183,000

Role for Bulls in 2013-14: Tom Thibodeau is hoping that Dunleavy can be the consistent long-range shooter the Bulls haven't had since Kyle Korver left last summer. Playing alongside Derrick Rose should give Dunleavy plenty of open looks and if he can knock them down the Bulls will be in good shape.

What happened this summer?: Dunleavy admitted that he had other offers over the summer to play for more money elsewhere but chose the Bulls in order to chase a championship. The Bulls feel as if they got a deal in Dunleavy, paying just about $6 million over two years.

"With [Rose] over the last two years, when healthy, they've had the best record in the league,” Dunleavy said. “It's kind of like the sky's the limit. I think it sounds like he's on pace to get back and be ready to go, and you add everybody else into the mix, I think we've got a good, deep team and we have high expectations for this season."

What does the future hold?: Dunleavy isn't the type of player who will be in the Bulls' long-term plans, he is a hired gun. His job is to knock down shots and provide a steady veteran presence off the bench. At 33, Dunleavy understands that this is the best chance he has ever had at contending for a championship.

Bottom line: Dunleavy was brought in here to knock down shots -- if he does that, all Bulls fans will be happy.

Bulls player preview: Joakim Noah

September, 24, 2013
9/24/13
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Friedell By Nick Friedell
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With training camp almost here, Nick Friedell previews every player on the Bulls roster.

Joakim NoahChris Trotman/Getty ImagesJoakim Noah hopes his foot injury is behind him this season.

Joakim Noah

Age: 28 | Pos.: C | Salary: $11,100,000

Role for Bulls in 2013-14: The emotional leader. As usual, Noah will be looked upon to be the spiritual compass for his team. After becoming an All-Star for the first time, Noah spent a majority of the second half of last season in pain because of ongoing issues with plantar fasciitis. He has proven to be one of the best defenders on the roster and one of the best decision makers with the ball, but if he can't stay healthy none of it will matter.

What happened this summer?: Noah spent his time globetrotting -- traveling to China and Africa, amongst other places. He spent plenty of time working with his personal trainer and close friend, Alex Perris, trying to get his feet in order.

What does the future hold?: In a recent interview with Bulls.com, Noah said he was feeling fine, but even he wasn't sure how his body would hold up.

“Obviously I’ve dealt with those injuries in the past and I’m hoping it’s all behind me,” Noah told the team's website. “Only time will tell, of course. That’s the reality of it. I just want to be as prepared as possible. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. But with no regrets, because I’ll know that I put everything I have into it.

Bottom line: Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said during the summer that he would try to limit Noah's minutes this season.

"Jo's minutes will come down," Thibodeau said during the Las Vegas Summer League. "We got strung out there because Kirk [Hinrich] got hurt. We had to really run our offense through Jo. But the second half of the season we got his minutes down which was probably a good number for him."

The real issue for the Bulls is whether or not Noah can stay healthy no matter how many minutes he plays. If he can't, the Bulls' thoughts of winning a title this year go down with him.

Bulls player preview: Erik Murphy

September, 23, 2013
9/23/13
9:00
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Friedell By Nick Friedell
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With training camp almost here, Nick Friedell previews every player on the Bulls roster.

Erik Murphy Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA TODAY SportsBulls forward Erik Murphy got some experience in the NBA Summer League.

Erik Murphy

Age: 22 | Pos.: F | Salary: $490,180

Role for Bulls in 2013-14: Like fellow rookie Tony Snell, Murphy will likely be experiencing a redshirt year in Tom Thibodeau's system. Murphy will be asked to learn the nuances of the NBA game while continuing to improve his own. The good news for him is that fellow University of Florida alum Joakim Noah will be there to answer any questions he has and help him learn about the league.

What happened this summer?: Murphy made his NBA debut in the Las Vegas Summer League. He knows in order to prove he belongs in the league he must show that he can help the Bulls in many areas.

"Obviously, I just have to continue to improve defensively, rebounding, getting stronger," Murphy said after being introduced to the media in July. "Every aspect of my game, I think I can improve. If I do that, whatever happens... But I think I'll be all right."

What does the future hold?: The most common term associated to Murphy's game is that of a “stretch four.” Interesting description given that it's the same moniker usually tagged on former Bulls' draft pick Nikola Mirotic. If Mirotic eventually comes to the Bulls next summer it will be interesting to see how Murphy fits in the team's long-term plans. In the time being, the Bulls can gamble on a cheap second-round pick who has the ability to knock down long-range shots.

Bottom line: Don't expect to see Murphy play much this season as he learns more about the league and his demanding new coach.

Bulls player preview: Marquis Teague

September, 22, 2013
9/22/13
9:04
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Friedell By Nick Friedell
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With training camp almost here, Nick Friedell previews the Bulls roster.

Marquis TeagueJack Arent/NBAE/Getty ImagesMarquis Teague averaged 18.3 points a game in the Las Vegas Summer League.

Marquis Teague

Age: 20 Pos.: PG Salary: $1,074,720

Role for Bulls in 2013-2014: There will be more pressure on Teague to produce this season, especially considering the Bulls opted not to bring back popular backup Nate Robinson. Teague will be behind Derrick Rose and Kirk Hinrich, but with Hinrich's injury woes and the uncertainty, at least initially, regarding Rose -- Teague could see himself playing some more minutes than usual early in the season.

What happened this summer?: Teague was back at the Las Vegas Summer League, averaging 18.3 points and 4.8 assists a game. He spent plenty of time at the Berto Center with the Bulls coaching staff trying to improve his jump shot.

What does the future hold? Teague is still the third point guard on the depth chart, and at just 20 years old, he's still learning the game. He might play a little more this season but the safer bet is that this becomes another year for him to grow and learn under coach Tom Thibodeau. His jump shot must improve for him to take the next step as an NBA player. To become more of a well-rounded player, Teague must develop into a better offensive threat and continue to work defensively.

Bottom line: Teague has proven he has the speed and athleticism to succeed at the NBA level. Now he must show that teams must respect his shooting range. Until he does that, and raises his level defensively, it's unlikely he will find a consistent place in Thibodeau's rotation.

Bulls player preview: Nazr Mohammed

September, 21, 2013
9/21/13
9:00
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Friedell By Nick Friedell
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With training camp almost here, Nick Friedell previews every player on the Bulls roster.

Nazr Mohammed, Carlos BoozerAP Photo/Nam Y. HuhNazr Mohammed isn't expected to play a big role if the other centers are healthy.

Nazr Mohammed

Age: 36 | Pos.: C | Salary: $884,293

Role for Bulls in 2013-14: Mohammed remains as an insurance policy for Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. The veteran center saw some action towards the end of last season, especially when Taj Gibson went down with a knee injury, but he rarely played through the first few months of the year. Thibodeau appeared to gain more trust in Mohammed as the season progressed, but it's still most likely that Mohammed will only be used in case of an injury to Joakim Noah or Gibson. Either way, the Kentucky alum is proud to be back with the Bulls for another season. While some expected the Bulls to take a young big man in the NBA draft, Mohammed always envisioned himself coming back to the Bulls.

"I think we've got the players and I think if everybody just improves on the the things they do well, we've got enough to compete for a championship," Mohammed said in July. "At the same time, the biggest thing you need to compete for a championship is sacrifice. … It's going to be different guys on different nights and maybe some guys have to sacrifice minutes here or there because guys fill a role and do their job. But that's the big component as far as winning or competing for a championship. I think we have guys willing to do that. Talent only gets you so far. You need guys on the same page and sacrifice is the biggest thing."

What happened this summer?: Aside from working on his game, Mohammed spent a lot of time working to build up his foundation. Mohammed also tried to maintain a sense of calm in the midst of a fan base which is convinced the Bulls are headed to a championship this season.

"We're not going to talk about winning titles in the summer," Mohammed said. "I mean everybody thinks they can win titles in the summer. We're confident that we've got a pretty good team that plays playoff-style basketball all year long so it's not hard for us to turn it up another notch. We think that we can compete with the eight teams that have a legitimate shot at winning it. I think that there are a lot of teams that want to win it but only about 6-8 teams every year that have a legitimate shot and I think we'll be one of those teams."

What does the future hold?: This is likely Mohammed's last season with the Bulls, but if he produces in his limited role and wants to continue to play there's always a chance that he will return.

Bottom line: The Bulls hope that Mohammed will continue to provide a stabilizing veteran presence and can produce in short minutes.

Bulls player preview: Tony Snell

September, 20, 2013
9/20/13
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Friedell By Nick Friedell
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With training camp almost here, Nick Friedell previews every player on the Bulls roster.

Tony SnellStephen R. Sylvanie/USA TODAY SportsTony Snell has shown some potential playing in the Summer League.

Tony Snell

Age: 21 | Pos.: SG | Salary: $1,409,040

Role for Bulls in 2013-14: Like most rookies who come through the Bulls' system, Snell will face a steep learning curve under Tom Thibodeau. With Luol Deng, Jimmy Butler and Mike Dunleavy, Jr. already in the fold, it's more than likely that this becomes a redshirt year for Snell. He will be expected to work hard in practice and continue to develop his shot from the outside.

What happened this summer?: Snell impressed coaches in the Las Vegas Summer League by using his long and athletic frame to make plays. Like fellow rookie Erik Murphy, Snell spent a lot of time at the Berto Center working on his game in anticipation of his first full year in the NBA.

What does the future hold?: The Bulls are confident they found another solid draft pick in Snell. While he probably won't play much this year, many within the organization are high on his game and his work ethic.

"The thing we really liked about Tony is, first of all, he's got the tools you look for in a 2-guard," Bulls GM Gar Forman said on ESPN 1000's draft show. "In that he's 6-7, he's got a seven-foot wing span. He's got terrific foot speed. He's a good, long, live athlete but, along with that, he can shoot the basketball and he's got a nice, fluid stroke. He shot 39 percent, almost 40 percent from 3. And he's got a skill level handling the ball and passing the ball. He can be a secondary handler; I think he'll be able to play off as he progresses, so all those things kind of stood out to us."

Bottom line: Snell is going to be sitting on the bench much of this year but if he continues to improve like Butler did over his first couple years the Bulls will be in good shape.

Bulls player preview: Jimmy Butler

September, 19, 2013
9/19/13
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Friedell By Nick Friedell
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With training camp almost here, Nick Friedell previews every player on the Bulls roster.

Jimmy ButlerGary Dineen/NBAE via Getty ImagesJimmy Butler stepped up in last season's playoffs when the Bulls needed him.

Jimmy Butler

Age: 23 | Pos.: SF | Salary: $1,112,880

Role for Bulls in 2013-14: Butler will be expected to build upon the strong foundation he laid for himself towards the end of last year. He comes into camp as the starting two guard and knows that he has to continue improving in order for the Bulls to keep winning. The Marquette alum may not be playing 48 minutes a game as he did during much of the playoffs last year, but if he can continue playing solid defense and hitting open jumpers he will be able to take the next step in his progression. It will be interesting to see how Butler performs alongside Derrick Rose, considering the pair didn't play much together in Butler's rookie season and didn't play at all together last year as Rose recovered from his knee injury.

What happened this summer?: Butler traveled through Asia and made an appearance at the ESPY awards as he enjoyed the perks that come with his rise to national attention in the playoffs. He spent plenty of time in the gym working on his game and knows that more pressure will be on him this year to produce. Butler also talked openly about the fact that he and his teammates aren't looking forward to seeing the Miami Heat get their rings on opening night. "I don't think anybody wants to watch that on our team so we won't pay too much attention to it," Butler said during an appearance on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN Chicago 1000 in July. "They deserved it. They won a championship, definitely, but they got to deal with the Chicago Bulls for 48 minutes coming out right after that, they get their rings."

What does the future hold?: Aside from Rose and Joakim Noah, an easy argument could be made that Butler has become the third most popular Bull on the roster. Fans appreciate how hard he plays and they enjoy his outgoing personality. The key for Butler is to not lose the work ethic that got him to this point. He must continue to develop his game -- a fact that his coaches are confident he will be able to with Rose’s help.

Bottom line: Butler may eventually play more of the three position, especially if his close friend Luol Deng leaves next summer, but for now he has to concentrate on knocking down his shots. Butler has a chance to make even more of a name for himself this season and seems excited about the opportunity.

Bulls player preview: Taj Gibson

September, 18, 2013
9/18/13
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With training camp almost here, Nick Friedell previews every player on the Bulls roster.

Taj GibsonIssac Baldizon/NBAE/Getty ImagesThe Bulls expect Taj Gibson to be a leader for the bench again this season.

Taj Gibson

Age: 28 | Pos.: PF | Salary: $7,550,000

Role for Bulls in 2013-14: Gibson's numbers last season (8 points, 5.3 rebounds a game) looked similar to the ones he's been putting up for the last few years, but he struggled in different stretches last year and admitted he was putting a lot of pressure on himself after signing an extension last opening night. This year that extension kicks in and he will be looked upon to take the next step in his development. What that means for Gibson is he must become more consistent with his jumper and maintain his usual high level on defense. Gibson will be expected to be one of the leaders of a bench group that Bulls management is expecting big things from. His easy-going presence in the locker room remains a big positive for an organization that prides itself on chemistry.

What happened this summer?: Gibson was supposed to play for Team USA in its mini-camp in Las Vegas this summer but an ankle injury kept him out. As he has done the past few summers, Gibson split his time between New York City and Los Angeles while continuing to work on his game.

What does the future hold?: Gibson will continue to be the main backup behind Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah. He will be expected to play both the four and five positions as the Bulls figure out how they want to split minutes off their bench. There is a chance Gibson becomes the starting four next season after the Bulls likely amnesty Boozer next summer -- but that is a bridge Gar Forman and company will cross later.

Bottom Line: Gibson is reliable and has earned a solid reputation for himself in the league, but Thibodeau needs the 28-year-old to be able to knock down open shots with more frequency.

Bulls player preview: Luol Deng

September, 17, 2013
9/17/13
9:00
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With training camp almost here, Nick Friedell previews every player on the Bulls roster.

Luol DengDennis Wierzbicki/USA TODAY SportsBulls workhorse Luol Deng is entering the final year of his contract this season.

Luol Deng

Age: 28 | Pos.: SF | Salary: $14,275,000

Role for Bulls in 2013-14: Tom Thibodeau has said many times that Deng is the 'glue' for the Bulls. He is a two-time All-Star who plays hard every night and has earned the trust of both the coaching staff and the fan base. Deng is one of the best defenders in the league and takes pride in trying to guard LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and the rest of the league's stars each night. He will be looked upon to do the same thing this season -- play solid defense and average 17-18 points a night. Thibodeau noted over the summer that he would try not to play Deng almost 40 minutes a night, as he has done the past two years, but the veteran coach relies so heavily on Deng that will be much easier said than done.

What happened this summer?: Deng spent the first part of the summer just trying to get healthy. Complications from a spinal tap knocked him out of a majority of the postseason and he acknowledged that he was trying to put some weight back on he lost during the ordeal. After spending the last couple summers playing for Team Great Britain, Deng spent some time traveling around the globe doing charity work for his foundation. Both Thibodeau and GM Gar Forman are confident that Deng is in good health now and will be ready for a heavy workload again this season.

What does the future hold?: Deng enters the season in the final year of his contract and speculation abounds regarding his future in Chicago. Deng's name bounced around in trade rumors near the draft but he didn't hold much value considering that teams knew he could walk at the end of the year. Forman noted during the Vegas Summer League that he and his staff are in 'constant communication' with his players and their representatives, but Deng's agent, Herb Rudoy, said that the pair had never discussed any financial terms regarding a new deal. And last week he was told by the Bulls that the organization would not discuss a new deal until after the season.

"Everyone in our organization appreciates what he does and we love Luol," Thibodeau said in July. "The business side, they'll take care of that. I just want him to continue to focus on getting ready for the season and concentrating on winning and that's what he does and that's what makes him so special. So I don't want him distracted with anything and just continue to focus on what's important for us."

The reality is that Deng has given no indication that he'll be willing to take a “hometown discount” in his new deal, and the Bulls, while they respect the veteran's work ethic, don't want to pay him what they will be paying him this year. Unless the sides can find some middle ground after the season, there's a good chance that this could be Deng's last season in Chicago.

Bottom Line: Thibodeau loves Deng and will continue to get the best out of him this season if he can stay healthy.

Bulls player preview: Carlos Boozer

September, 16, 2013
9/16/13
9:00
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With training camp almost here, Nick Friedell previews every player on the Bulls roster.

Carlos Boozer Gregory Shamus/Getty ImagesThis likely will be Carlos Boozer's last season with the Bulls.

Carlos Boozer

Age: 31 | Pos.: PF | Salary: $15,300,000

Role for Bulls in 2013-2014: If Boozer has the same kind of season he had last year, the organization will be happy. He averaged 16.2 points and 9.8 rebounds a game, providing the Bulls with a solid offensive presence for a team without Derrick Rose. While Boozer will never be a great defensive player, his defense was a little more consistent last season and Tom Thibodeau will be looking for the same effort this year.

The question for Boozer is can he put up the same numbers without getting the ball as much? With Rose back, Boozer's touches won't be as high so he will have to take advantage of the ones he gets.

What happened this summer?: Like many of his teammates, Boozer spent time traveling around the globe. He was part of the NBA's Basketball Without Borders program during a stop in Portugal.

What does the future hold? In all likelihood, this will be Boozer's last season with the Bulls. The organization likely will amnesty the final year of his deal with the hopes of landing a new difference maker with the remaining cap space. Boozer was always the consolation prize in the summer of 2010 behind LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. He had a few big games during his Bulls' tenure, but never developed into the back-to-the-basket scorer the Bulls believed they were getting when they signed him.

Bottom line: Enjoy Boozer's yells now because he will be screaming for somebody else next season. In the meantime, he can still help the Bulls win as long as he rebounds and hits his open jumpers.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jimmy Butler
PTS AST STL MIN
20.9 3.3 1.5 39.6
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsP. Gasol 11.9
AssistsD. Rose 5.1
StealsJ. Butler 1.5
BlocksP. Gasol 1.9