New Cavs don't change Bulls' expectations

August, 7, 2014
Aug 7
1:29
PM CT
Friedell By Nick Friedell
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Derrick Rose respects LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, but he isn't scared of them. He made that clear when the possibility of Love landing in Cleveland came up during Team USA camp last week.

"For us, I think it wouldn't change anything," Rose said. "We know that no matter who we play that we have a legit change to beat anyone in the league. But at the same time, we know it's not going to be easy at all because guys are getting better. You have guys going to different teams and it's going to be tough. But at the same time, that's why we're in the NBA and that's why we love this game, for the challenge."

[+] EnlargeDerrick Rose
Sam Forencich/Getty ImagesDerrick Rose is looking forward to playing on the "most talented" Bulls team he has been on.
Rose and the Bulls are up for the challenge of knocking off the Cavaliers, who reportedly have agreed to a trade with the Timberwolves that includes sending Love to Cleveland and top overall pick Andrew Wiggins going to Minnesota.

Rose said recently that these Bulls are the "most talented" team he's ever been on. Assuming that Rose is healthy -- and that's a huge assumption, given that he's played in just 49 games over the past three seasons, including just 10 in the past two because of two serious knee injuries -- the Bulls believe they have enough to win a championship this season.

Let's take a look at a few of the reasons why:

Rose is back: It was just one week at Team USA's camp, but Rose offered a reminder that he can still be a special player. Players and coaches raved about the way he performed as he showed the speed and explosion that set him apart from the start of his career. Rose has the superstar ability to carry the Bulls at times, and everybody will feed off his presence on the floor. He must prove his body can withstand the grind of a long NBA season.

Thibs' defense: Tom Thibodeau has implemented his hard-nosed defensive schemes over the past four years in Chicago. When teams play the Bulls they know they're in for a tough and physical game. Led by Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler, the Bulls have the type of defensive prowess that is crucial to postseason success. The Cavs don't have that type of luxury. James is one of the best defenders in the game -- and has shown it in years past locking up Rose -- but Irving and Love have never been known as solid defenders. Thibodeau will make sure to have his players in the right place on defense and find a way to take advantage of the weaknesses of Irving and Love on the other end of the floor.

Depth: The Bulls didn't land Carmelo Anthony this summer, but they did add several players who can make a difference in the regular season and in the playoffs. Pau Gasol has won championships and should provide an upgrade over Carlos Boozer. Doug McDermott lit up the Vegas Summer League and has proved throughout his college career that he can knock down shots. Aaron Brooks gives the Bulls insurance as a combo guard who can play alongside Rose and Kirk Hinrich. Nikola Mirotic is a great unknown on the NBA level, but he has played in many big games in Europe and can score. Tony Snell had a good run at Summer League and appears to be taking the next step in his progression. The Cavs have a solid team with a lot of talent, but the Bulls, along with the reigning NBA champion San Antonio Spurs, have arguably the deepest team in the league. That depth should help them in every area throughout the season.

Continuity: This is the year for the Bulls to win a title. They are talented and deep and have proved they can win under Thibodeau. The Cavs have a lot of talented players (including the best player in the world in James), but like all teams, it's going to take them a little time to come together and learn new coach David Blatt's system. The Bulls run like a well-oiled machine under Thibodeau and trust each other on the floor. The core has been together now for five years, and they aren't getting any younger. It's up to Rose to stay healthy and lead them to where they want to go.

Nick Friedell | email

Chicago Bulls beat reporter
Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined ESPNChicago.com for its launch in April 2009.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jimmy Butler
PTS AST STL MIN
21.6 3.4 1.5 40.1
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsP. Gasol 11.5
AssistsD. Rose 5.0
StealsJ. Butler 1.5
BlocksP. Gasol 2.0