Leave it up to sometimes-prophetic Derrick Rose to sum up what others are alarmingly realizing: this Chicago Bulls team is out for hardware, and they just might get it.
Already on a seven-game upswing, the Bulls can only get better, according to their need-for-speed point guard. Not one to temper his aspirations, Rose went as far as to buoy the championship talk that has surrounded the squad since it formed summertime:
“I don’t want to jinx ourselves, but I think we can really make a run for this [championship] this year. But it just takes focus, discipline, and we got to sacrifice a little bit.”
He’s not alone in his lofty words. XN Sports has the Bulls ranked third presently, with ESPN and NBA.com putting them in the league’s driver’s seat. Deadspin was less reserved, warning the NBA about the incoming Bulls parade.
On the surface, these hardy Bulls don’t appear as dangerous as they truly are.
Their record puts them at fourth-best out East, seventh-best overall. They’re eighth in points scored per game (103.1), 13th in assists per game (21.8), ninth in opponent points scored per game (98.5), and fourth for rebounds per (45.5). These numbers certainly indicate a strong unit but also take into account a bumpy road for them that has included a lot of missed Rose games (not to mention him rounding up back into form), Noah recovering from a major injury, and new players learning the Thibs system.
Their most recent ten-game sample size that includes nine victories – including a handful against the league’s best in Portland, Toronto, Washington, and Memphis – is indicative of their truer form.
For instance, Chicago has been ranked ninth and seventh when it comes to defensive and offensive efficiency over the course of the season. In their last three games, they’ve climbed up to seventh and fifth in the same categories.
That comes as an added bonus to a group that is already doing wonders across many sectors. They’re limiting team assists for seventh best, have their fouling numbers down for fifth best, rank ninth in limiting fourth-quarter points (something that will help come playoff time), only trail Sacramento in total rebounding percentage, and are also second in total team blocks per game. Needless to say, this is a team that’s built as solidly as they come.
With Rose looking like his former self, and Noah coming into his own, Chicago might be a juggernaut in the making. They want all of the marbles, and as their leader let it be known, they might be shaping up to take them all.