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Chicago Bulls 2014-15 Season Preview

Blog a Bull manager Matt Bernhardt (AKA your friendly BullsBlogger) joins Blazer's Edge to discuss the 2014-15 Chicago Bulls, continuing a month-long, 30-team NBA season preview feature.

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Over the next month, Blazer's Edge will be rolling out season previews for all 30 NBA teams. Continuing this feature, we discuss the Chicago Bulls with Blog a Bull manager Matt Bernhardt (AKA your friendly BullsBlogger) . (Yesterday's preview: Indiana Pacers)

Chicago Bulls 2014-15 Season Preview

2013-14 Record: 48-34, No. 2 in Central Division, No. 4 in Eastern Conference

Roster additions: Cameron Bairstow (rookie, No. 49), Aaron Brooks, Pau Gasol, Doug McDermott (rookie, No. 11), Nikola Mirotic (rookie, drafted 2011), E'Twaun Moore

Roster subtractions: D.J. Augustin, Carlos Boozer, Ronnie Brewer, Jimmer Fredette, Mike James

SB Nation affiliate: Blog a Bull


Blazer's Edge: How healthy do you think Derrick Rose is? What do you expect his impact to be this year?

Matt Bernhardt: He seems fine, I think. Throughout the World Cup and in the Bulls preseason, Rose has not had a full minutes workload, but when he's on the court you can see a lot of the end-to-end explosiveness that helped make him MVP. There is still some progress to be made, his jumper often looks off and he is a bit rusty finishing around the rim, but there doesn't look to be much athletically wrong with him. I'm not sure what to expect over the course of the whole season, I'm just hoping that by the time the playoffs arrive he's as 'back' as he's gonna be.

BE: How does Pau Gasol fit in with the Bulls' frontcourt rotation? Will he play center at times across from Taj Gibson or Nikola Mirotic at the power forward spot?

MB: Pau is going to start at center alongside Noah and then Gibson when the latter comes in the game. Gasol's mobility has worsened but he's still a legitimate 7-footer who can protect the rim, and both Noah and Gibson are better suited creating havok on the perimeter anyway. The real question will be who closes games, assuming Noah is guaranteed to do so. Gibson was fantastic in 4th quarters last season, but Gasol has the obvious status and also can provide more offense.

I'm not sure Mirotic will play much, at least to start the season. With 3 starter-quality players in front of him there just aren't a lot of minutes to have, and his defense and rebounding issues may make Thibs reticent to trust him. But hopefully he improves in those areas, and his shooting then demands he gets some floor time, with a nice bonus being the other Bulls bigs can get a rest here and there throughout the marathon season.

BE: What do you expect from rookie Doug McDermott this year?

MB: I hope he can hit a whole bunch of 3-pointers. There's still an outside chance he begins the season in the starting lineup, which would help mask his deficiencies and simply play off of a great penetrator like Rose and fantastic passers in Noah and Gasol. While he came billed as (and the Bulls paid a pretty high price for) someone with more offensive versatility, I wouldn't be surprised if we don't see that much in his rookie season, and he is 'just' a shooter.

BE: What is the ceiling for this Bulls team? Can they make it to the Eastern Conference Finals and beyond?

MB: Anything less than an appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals would be an extreme disappointment. The majority of the Bulls key contributors are either in their prime or a little past it, and the time is now for them to take advantage of yet another down season for the rest of the conference.

The Cavaliers new Big 3 should be a force for years to come, but as with LeBron's last super-team it may be where the first year will be the time to get them. The Bulls pose the biggest threat to do just that.

BE: What do you expect coach Tom Thibodeau's backcourt rotation to look like? There's a lot of depth there with Rose, Kirk Hinrich, Aaron Brooks, Jimmy Butler and Tony Snell.

MB: I think Thibs treats the preseason very seriously, to which we can surmise his rotation from it. That means Tony Snell is the odd man out, and Kirk Hinrich playing a lot of 2-guard alongside both Rose and Brooks. Butler is primarily a 3, though the roles are sort of interchangeable. Assuming Rose will play a more normal workload in the regular season, I can only guess that Brooks won't be playing that much. However I do think (and fear!) Hinrich will play a lot, including to close out games. Thibs likes having the extra ballhandler alongside Rose, and unfortunately it's a skill on the roster that's currently lacking.

Special thanks to Blog a Bull manager Matt Bernhardt (AKA your friendly BullsBlogger) for taking the time to discuss the Chicago Bulls' upcoming season with Blazer's Edge. Matt can be found on twitter @BullsBloggerBlog a Bull has you covered for Bulls news and analysis.

-- Chris Lucia | | Twitter