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Bulls Season Preview

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Nov 1, 2006 2:18PM

The Bulls tricked the Miami Heat and treated their fans to a 42-point blowout of the defending NBA Champs, on the same night the champs hung their banner and received their rings. Is the 108-66 victory a sign of things to come for the Bulls' 2006-2007 season? Maybe...

2006_11_sports_bulls_heat_ben_shaq.jpgAfter two straight playoff appearances, but also two straight first-round eliminations, the Bulls are poised to compete for the Eastern Conference title this season. We're not saying that they're favored to win it all just yet, but they might finish up the season in June against the same Miami Heat they opened up against last night.

The reason for the optimism is pretty clear. They've finally sent all the old regime's projects packing, the young guys drafted by current GM John Paxon are continuing to mature, rookies Tyrus Thomas and Thabo Sefolosha look ready to contribute now, and they added the biggest free-agent signee of the offseason when they signed Ben Wallace away from the Pistons.

Already one of the best defensive teams in the league, the addition of Wallace and P.J. Brown should allow the Bulls to shut down any offense. Just look what they did to Miami last night! If Shaq, Dwyane Wade and company could only muster up 66 points, can they shut out the Hawks or Knicks?

The offense may be a bigger question, but as Kirk Hinrich, Ben Gordon, Loul Deng and Andres Nocioni mature, they'll become more consistent in their offensive production.

Here's a look at the starting line-up, as well as the rest of the roster:

Starting Five
Kirk Hinrich - Point Guard
Ben Gordon - Shooting Guard
Loul Deng - Small Forward
P.J. Brown - Power Forward
Ben Wallace - Center

Andres Nocioni
Chris Duhon
Viktor Khryapa
Tyrus Thomas
Thabo Sefolosha
Malik Allen
Adrian Griffin
Michael Sweetney
Martynas Andriuskevicius
Andre Barrett

With such a powerful defense, an improving offense, and perhaps the deepest team in the NBA, the Bulls should improve quite a bit from their 41-41 record last year. We think 55 wins is a realistic goal. The Bulls will, for the first time since MJ played, reach beyond the first round of the playoffs -- our prediction is Eastern Conference Finals. It'll be a fun season, and it'll give us sports fans something to obsess over after the Bears Super Bowl victory.