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Bulls and Pistons


Record:  41-41, 4th in Central Division, 7th in Eastern Conference

Statistical Comparison:


1st in opponent field goal %
5th in three-point %
3rd in rebounding
30th in steals


13th (tie) in the league in scoring (97.8ppg)
16th in opponent scoring (97.2ppg)
14th in ppg differential (+0.6)
22nd in field goal %
6th in assists
21st in blocks
25th in turnovers
7th in opponent turnovers

Ben Wallace, P.J. Brown, Adrian Griffin, Viktor Khryapa, Martynas Andriuskevicius, Tyrus Thomas (R), Thabo Sefolosha (R)

Tyson Chandler, Darius Songaila, Othella Harrington, Jannero Pargo, Eric Piatkowski, Eddie Badsen, Luke Schenscher

Key Players

PG:  Kirk Hinrich, Chris Duhon
SG:  Ben Gordon, Adrian Griffin, Thabo Sefolosha
SF:   Andres Nocioni, Luol Deng, Viktor Khryapa
PF:   P.J. Brown, Mike Sweetney, Malik Allen, Tyrus Thomas
C:   Ben Wallace, Martynas Andriuskevicius

Comments: It's really hard to argue with what Chicago has done this offseason.  For a few years now their strength has been a stable of young players at the 1-2-3 positions that can score on anyone, anywhere, anytime.  Their weakness has been inexperienced, inconsistent big man play.  So what do they do?  They go out and grab the best defensive center on the planet and a power forward who is the epitome of the solid, veteran rebounding role-player.  And mind you, they added these guys to a squad that was already the best in the league in field goal percentage defense and third best in total rebounding.  (I had to do a double-take when I saw those numbers.  I hadn't realized that.  Guess that Scott Skiles thing does make a difference.)  The Bulls could be scary good once again.  Their Achilles Heel (if they have one) will be the teaming of Brown and Big Ben together.  Both are basically defensive-minded superb rebounders who need low post space if they're going to score at all (which they won't much).  They've got overkill on their strength and may have exacerbated some of their weaknesses.  Mind you, this will hardly be fatal...they'll still be damn good and might be championship material, but it may be the kind of distinction that separates conference finalists or semi-finalists from NBA finalists.  If it appears this is materializing, watch carefully.  The key will be how the Knicks are doing.  If New York is in the toilet again, I anticipate the Bulls throwing the Knicks' pick plus the kitchen sink at Minnesota to try and pry Kevin Garnett away.  They have plenty of good spare parts and expiring contracts to offer and the pick is not that valuable to them unless it's #1 overall because they need Mr. Right Now, not Mr. Three-Years-From-Now.  If, however, the Knicks look like a middle of the pack team the Bulls won't have the clout to get KG.  And friends, despite all the controversy and nay-saying right now I keep getting this weird feeling that we could be seeing Zach Randolph in a Bulls uniform either this February or next June.  Brown and Nocioni both have expiring contracts and even a mid-lottery pick would look good to us.  Keep an eye on it.  Anyway, I haven't even mentioned Tyrus Thomas or Viktor Khryapa and I already said the Bulls will be good, so what does that tell you?  They're not necessarily head and shoulders above everyone else in the East--in fact I don't think I'd pick them as champions this year--but they'll certainly contend.


Record:  64-18, 1st in Central Division, 1st in Eastern Conference

Statistical Comparisons:


3rd in opponent scoring (90.2ppg)
2nd in ppg differential (+6.7ppg)
3rd in three-point %
2nd in assists
2nd (3-way tie) in blocks
1st in turnovers


19th in the league in scoring (96.8ppg)
12th in field goal %
13th in opponent field goal %
19th in rebounding
16th in steals
21st in opponent turnovers

Flip Murray, Nazr Mohammed, Jason Maxiell, Ronald Dupree, Will Blalock (R)

Ben Wallace, Maurice Evans, Tony Delk, Kelvin Cato

Key Players

PG:  Chauncey Billups, Lindsey Hunter
SG:  Rip Hamilton, Flip Murray, Ronald Dupree, Alex Acker, Will Blalock
SF:  Tayshaun Prince, Carlos Delfino, Amir Johnson
PF:  Rasheed Wallace, Antonio McDyess, Jason Maxiell
C:  Nazr Mohammed, Dale Davis

Comments: The Pistons have been the most feared defensive team in the league for a few years now, and last year was no exception as they tallied huge stats in opponent points and blocks.  But guess why?  And guess what?  McDyess, Mohammed, and Davis all together don't even come close to equalling Ben Wallace.  The good news is that the guards who shot great, took fantastic care of the ball, and distributed like hotcakes are back.  That alone will keep them solidly in the playoffs. They've also added Flip Murray for a little off-the-bench scoring and slashing punch, which frankly they needed.  Prince and Rasheed still make up one of the most multi-faceted forward tandems in the league...seriously good defenders to boot.  All is not lost in Piston-land.  But the deep runs at the championship almost certainly are.  They'll likely end up being what Indiana has been for the past few seasons:  a good team that looks able to contend, but ends up being one dominant player short of being able to make it over the top.

--Dave (