- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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10: The resurgence of Kyle Korver
He sat out Thursday's regular-season finale because of nagging injuries, but Korver has shot the ball a lot better recently. More importantly, his defense has improved this season, and if he knocks down open jumpers he will stretch the floor for Derrick Rose in crunch time.
9: The rise of Taj
Taj Gibson's defense has gotten even better this season, and he will be called upon to be a closer alongside Omer Asik late in games. He always seems to make one or two highlight plays each night, especially against the Miami Heat.
8. The Bench Mob is rolling
Tom Thibodeau may decide to cut his rotation down much the same way he did last postseason, but if he doesn't, Bulls fans should feel great because their team has the deepest bench in the NBA. C.J. Watson, Ronnie Brewer, Jimmy Butler, John Lucas III, Korver and Gibson have developed into a reliable group of reserves that Thibodeau has more confidence in this season.
7. Noah is primed for a title run
Joakim Noah had a lot of ups and downs this season, but he looks to be mentally ready for the grind that comes in the postseason. He was not happy with how last season finished, and he is motivated to create a different ending this time.
6. Thibs is in control
Now in his second year, Thibodeau knows what he wants from his team, and he learned a lot from the postseason last time. He wants to continue to prove to all the teams that passed him over for head-coaching positions that they made a mistake. The best revenge would be a title.
5. Bulls still feel like underdogs
Thibodeau's team had the best record in the NBA again this season, but he has the players buying into the idea that there are still a lot of people who don't believe they can win. That belief will permeate through the locker room as the postseason drags along and will push his players to play even harder.
4. A year wiser
As a group, the Bulls have matured a lot over the past year. They have gotten even more comfortable playing alongside each other, and they are even more confident when they are on the floor together. That maturity is something that has grown throughout the season, and they feel like it will carry them for the next few months.
3. Don't write off Boozer yet
Carlos Boozer knows that he didn't perform up to his capabilities last season during the playoffs. He heard all the criticism, and it pushed him to come back in even better shape this season. He is the only Bull who started and played in every game this season. He wants to have a big postseason run to prove to everybody who doubted him that he is not a bust.
2. Rip City
The Bulls' biggest flaw last season was that they didn't have a 2-guard who could knock down open shots and take some pressure off Rose. Now they feel like they have that guy with Richard Hamilton, a player who knows what it takes to win a title (having won one in Detroit) and can help show his teammates the way. If he can knock down big shots in the playoffs, nobody will care that he missed most of the season because of injuries.
1. Watching Derrick Rose
Bulls fans should be most excited by the fact that Rose is playing and desperately wants to win a title. He has been hurt, and he's still not close to 100 percent. But he's still the reigning MVP of the league, and he is still better than most of his peers, even when he's not at his best. Rose may not be able to make all the moves he made last season, but as long as he's on the floor the Bulls still have a chance to win a title.
1dMatt Walks, ESPN.com
1dJason McCallum, ESPN Stats & Info