I'm sure we all have them, those teams that you just can't quite figure out; those teams that just don't quite "make sense" in your brain. For me, the 2016 Chicago Bulls are one such team. They are undeniably talented, with Jimmy Butler, Pau Gasol, Derrick Rose and all, even with Joakim Noah out due to injury. They also made a coaching change in the off season, moving on from defensive guru Tom Thibodeau and replacing him with up and coming hot prospect Fred Hoiberg. Coach Hoiberg was supposed to open up the Bulls offensive game, installing the free flowing motion he used at Iowa State, while maintaining the hard nosed defensiveness of the previous regime. At past the midway point of the season, though, this hasn't happened.
This is where I get confused about the Bulls. When I look at that roster, I feel they should be the clear second best team in the East. And while they are right there record-wise, when I watch them play, I see a team that's really not that good. Their defense is no where near what it was under Thibs, and Hoiberg has had to revert to a lot of same plays of past seasons to generate any scoring at all. They are not the free flowing offensive team many expected, but instead rely on the individual talents of Gasol and Butler (plus occasionally Rose) to carry the offense. They play an unappealing style of basketball, albeit a relatively effective one...but they should, or could, be so much better. I just don't get it.
With all that said, the Bulls still win. As they face off against the Nuggets tonight, Denver will need to play a complete game if they hope to emerge victorious. Gary Harris needs to make life tough for Butler. Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic need to force Gasol out of his comfort zones. Emmanuel Mudiay needs to control Rose's penetration. And the bench cannot come out and lay an egg.