The rookie Derrick Rose, a native son, will get a chance to learn on the job as the Bulls try to push the tempo.
David E. Klutho/SI
Ben Gordon's 19.3 points per game as a reserve were the most for a player coming off the bench in at least half his team's games since '91-92, when the Warriors' Sarunas Marciulionis also averaged 19.3.
Record: 33-49 (11th in East) Points scored: 97.3 (18th in NBA) Points allowed: 100.4 (16th)
A talented team that stumbled last season reboots with a new coach and point guard
At the time, hiring Vinny Del Negro as Bulls coach ranked among thebiggest civic mysteries since the cause of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The12-year former guard wasn't a front-runner for the job (like Mike D'Antoni, whochose the Knicks); he wasn't a coveted assistant (like Tom Thibodeau, whoremains on the Celtics' bench); he wasn't a well-known retread (like formercoach and current TV analyst Doug Collins, who withdrew his name fromconsideration). Heck, he didn't have any coaching experience. Yet 4 1/2months into his tenure, it is clear that Del Negro -- who brings a lightertouch than departed drill sergeant Scott Skiles and will grow along with hisplayers -- was the best choice to restore the upward mobility of a talent-ladenteam that missed the playoffs for the first time in three years.
Del Negro, 42, spent the past two seasons in the Suns' front office, whichhelps explain his offensive philosophy. Given that its roster is loaded withperimeter scorers and fantastic finishers -- and lacking low-post threats -- Chicagowill try to maximize transition points. "We want to push it and use the athleteswe have," says Del Negro. "We want to make it difficult for thedefense."
In rookie Derrick Rose, the No. 1 pick from Memphis who will start fromDay One, the Bulls have a point guard tailor-made for the running game. As longas Del Negro can head off any discontent (see: guards Ben Gordon, who couldnot agree to a long-term contract, and Kirk Hinrich, who has ceded the pointguard spot to Rose), the Bulls should at least find their way back to theplayoffs. -- Andrew Lawrence
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