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Team Preview: Chicago Bulls

The Bulls didn’t just make a splash this summer – they did an all-out cannonball.  Or was it a bellyflop?  Armed with major cash and the number two pick in the draft, they went out and spent big on …a 32 year old center with no offensive ability and diminishing quickness and athleticism, which has been his biggest asset throughout his career?  Sweet!  Then they went with a “project” with their high draft pick in Ty Thomas, who shouldn’t contribute much this year, but at least were “savvy” enough to pick up Viktor “In Soviet Russia, Three Pointer shoots you!” Khryapa in a draft-day deal with the Trail Blazers.  Not convinced that adding one over-the-hill big man was enough, they picked up PJ Brown in exchange for ridding themselves of perennial disappointment Tyson Chandler.  Needless to say, I wasn’t thrilled with the offseason moves made by the Bulls front office.  Still, they’ve got plenty of young talent, and just recently they made a move that has “sleeper” written all over it.  But with Scott Skiles at the helm, you never know what could happen:

The Stud: Kirk Hinrich, PG

There’s few things that you need more in fantasy basketball than a reliable point guard, and Kirk Hinrich is exactly that.  He is the definition of a “typical point guard.”  His assets are in assists, threes, steals, FT%, and points.  He hurts in FG% and blocks.  Yep, that’s a point guard all right.  But more important than his stats is his consistency.  Other than a slight uptick in his percentages, his stats last year were remarkably similar to his stats in ’04-05.  He’s seen around 36 mpg for his whole career, has only missed 12 games in three years, and is just a solid guy to have on your team.  If you don’t have a PG yet and he’s sitting there in the fourth round, you should feel no reservations about taking him there.  Even if you do have a PG already, he’s still worth consideration in the fourth. 

The Support: Andres Nocioni, F
Nocioni is another one of those potential triple-threaters, capable of putting up a steal, a block and a three.  He’s also a pretty strong rebounder, and very strong from the line.  He blew up at the end of the year, averaging a double-double in April, but that may make him over-rated.  Odds are he’s going to end up seeing closer to the 28 minutes he averaged over the course of the year rather than the 38 he saw in April, but even that’s enough for the multi-category threat to have value.  There’s also the issue of Scott Skiles.  Let’s talk about Skiles for a minute.  For a long time, he was thought to be of the same vein as Hubie Brown, or even Knicks-era Larry Brown, the kind of guy where it was impossible to predict minutes from one night to the next.  But I think that’s just because his players stunk more than anything else.  I mean, you’d be rotation Eddy Curry, Tyson Chandler, Antonio Davis, Michael Sweetney, and lord knows who else in and out of the lineup too if they were all you had to go with.  The fact is that when Skiles finds someone he likes, he’ll keep him on the court.  He does it with Hinrich.  He does it with a couple of other guys on this roster as well.  And he could very well do it for Nocioni, if he earns those minutes.  Andres is a very safe pick in the 7th round, and a nice risk in the 5th or 6th.

The Supporting Support:  Ben Gordon, G
Yes, yes, I know.  All he does is score and shoot threes.  He doesn’t really contribute anywhere else, and he’s got a nasty FG%.  But you know what?  He also stays healthy, and at some point, 16 points and 2 threes are nice to have on your roster.  He came in at a very respectable 76 on the total player rater, and he’s one of those guys who, like Hinrich, has seemed to earn his minutes under Skiles.  With the addition of Ben Wallace, you know this team will need an offensive spark early and often – and Gordon will be depended on as that spark.  Gordon is a fine pick once you’re looking for Utility guys in the 9th round or later.

The Sleeper: Luol Deng, GF
So apparently the Bulls just signed Luol Deng to a big contract extension.  That’s reason enough for me to put Deng here at the sleeper spot, as they apparently plan to keep him on the court at least as much as the 33 mpg they gave him last year.  Deng showed nice improvement last year, cutting down on his turnovers and contributing nicely in points and boards.  It’s said that often the third year in the league is where everything comes together, and if that’s true for Deng he could really break out.  One of the big benefits about Deng is that for some reason he qualifies at G in Yahoo! leagues, and his 6+ rpg are great from the SG spot.  Unfortunately, playing him there means you’ve really gotta have support in 3’s from an unconventional position, because Deng certainly won’t provide them.  I’d look for him as early as the 5th round this year.

The Slacker: Ben Wallace, FC
Wallace is on his way down, and it’s not going to be pretty.  Let’s look at the facts:  Fact number one – last year he set six-year lows in rebounds and blocks, and that’s not good for a guy who gets about 80% of his value from rebounds and blocks.  Fact number two -his FT% is just crippling.  Fact number three – he really wore down towards the end of last year.  In March and April he was a shadow of his former self.  He’s showing all the signs of aging and his aging is not going to be pretty.  He was an impressive 31 on the overall player rater but honestly I wouldn’t take him until the 5th round at the absolute earliest.  He should be a total headache this year.

Double Dribbles: Chris Duhon is a Hinrich injury away from being a very effective PG, but he won’t see any more than the 29 mpg he saw last year while Kirk is healthy … Mike Sweetney, PJ Brown, Ty Thomas, and Malik Allen will probably cancel out each other’s value while playing behind Nocioni and Wallace, but Thomas actually might be an OK late round pick.  If he shows the talent, Skiles should find time for him in the front court, but keep in mind that Skiles won’t be afraid of having a short leash … all the draft experts think that Thabo Sefolosha was a nice pick, but I can’t imagine he’ll garner enough PT to have any value.

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