Chicago exposed?

It was during the preseason when the Wiz were in Chicago that I questioned the level of hype being thrown in the direction of the Bulls in this blog. My thinking was that the Bulls have been built to dominate the eastern conference - five years ago. They looked great in the season opening blowout of Miami when every shot was falling but what has happened since?

They were 2-2 going into tonight's game at Cleveland and right now, as I write this, they are getting blasted (it's 47-31) and they aren't even playing good defense. It's a long season yes, but this is a team of jump shooters, a team whose best scorer is a 6-foot-0 guard who doesn't draw fouls and get to the stripe and a team with a center (Ben Wallace) who can't score if you left him in the gym by himself with a ball and map of the basket.

So where do the Wizards stack up right now? It's hard to tell because it's so early but judging by the way they smacked Indiana last night and by the way they lost two close games on the road at Cleveland and Orlando, Wiz fans have to feel pretty optimistic that this team can crack the top 4 if Songaila can get back for the second half, if the Big 3 can stay healthy and if Brendan/Etan provide any kind of presence in the paint.

By the way, is Atlanta legit? They looked good the other night in beating the Cavs in Cleveland and Joe Johnson is ballin'. It's going to be a fun season ya'll. Stay tuned.

By Ivan Carter |  November 9, 2006; 9:03 PM ET
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If Chicago ever wants to be legit, theyre going to need to make a move for a more conistant 20-24ppg type guy, Gordon is nice, but, he's not there for you everynight, I wouldnt be surprised to see BG and Deng traded for a high draft choice or someone who can contribute as a night in and night out scoring threat.

Posted by: Bowling Green Dude | November 9, 2006 9:51 PM

You are right about Chicago, I too was curious about there scoring...where exactly is it going to come from if someone plays any kind of D on their point guard. However, I am a true believer in simply executing your game and force the other team to respond or out execute you...the Wiz should be ok against them...NJ, who out executes the Wiz, generally, will be the truest test.

Posted by: djgofSTX | November 9, 2006 10:23 PM

1) Cleveland
2) New Jersey
3) WIZARDS!!!!!!!!!!
4) Miami
5) Detroit
6) Indiana
7) Chicago
8) Milwaukee

Posted by: Pat (DC Burbs) | November 9, 2006 10:59 PM

Chicago for the last two years has started slowly. Remember the 0-9 start before playing us in the playoffs? But hey, maybe they won't be able to turn it around this year. Let's hope.

Posted by: steiner1 | November 9, 2006 11:12 PM

Thanks, IC. Now lets see how many people jump off that Chi-town bandwagon. The NBA now isn't about defense anymore. Its about scoring and the bulls can't score. But could you imagine Gilbert and Caron in place of Hinrich and Nocioni? With Ben Gordon lighting it up of the bench? Now that's a championship squad right there!

Posted by: c.bell | November 10, 2006 5:01 AM

Again, let's not get too carried away over the results of one game for the Wiz. Just as folks were too down after a couple tough losses, now they're going gaga after blowing out Indy, without O'Neal, at home. It's too early to be predicting top 3 or top 4 finishes for the Wiz.

As for Chicago, I was also mystified by the Wallace signing. It's like the Suns paying huge money for another 3-point shooter: "Uh, fellas, we don't seem to have a problem in that area. Maybe we should concentrate on our WEAKNESSES instead..."

Posted by: Keithinator | November 10, 2006 7:45 AM

Chicago's off-season moves were a puzzle to me. Last season, they were the league's 6th best defensive team and the 22nd ranked offensive team. So they go out and add defense? Weird. What they needed was an efficient lead scorer, not Ben Wallace and PJ Brown.

However, I do take issue with Ivan's assertion that the Bulls aren't playing good defense. Before last nights game against Cleveland, the Bulls were giving up the fewest pts per possession in the league.

Posted by: TSW | November 10, 2006 8:33 AM

The Bulls moves this summer make the most sense if they were done with an attempt to trade for Garnett in mind. Chicago has so many young talented assets, such a deal would really make a lot of sense for both teams.

Posted by: Henry | November 10, 2006 10:12 AM

the points above on the bulls picking up wallace are spot on, though with chandler leaving (even if it was after, they factored that in) they needed someone to replace him; short term wallace is an improvement at that position, and neither of those guys has any offensive game. the other thing to keep in mind is that while it might seem that the bulls don't need the extra defense, you have to look at what the move took away. . .the central division has gone through detroit for the last five years, and chicago was looking that square in the face. without ben, the primary players on detroit are thin finesses guys with the exception of billups (who is small). even rasheed hasn't been a banger for some time. the bulls are going to miss ben's muscle with the size milwaukee picked up, james' ability to play the power game, indiana's frontcourt, and the physical press the bulls put on their opponents. . . they will still be right there, but the value in the acqusition of ben to the bulls is as much in the substraction from the pistons as it is in the addition to the bulls. that being said, the long term cap implications of paying that contract make it a double win for everyone else in the East.

other early observations:

- he has always been flatfooted, but always had a nice jump shot, and good low post moves, along with real size; that being said, is it just me or does it look like Ilgauskus (sic) suddenly got very old.

- speaking of old, i don't think miami's oldster's can just loaf through the regular season. wade won't loaf, and if he has to carry the team night in and night out w/o material help, it will wear him down to the point where he will lose some of his edge, and the difference between a good player and a great one in the nba is a thin line.

- with perhaps the best coach in the league, a bunch of young guys with hop, some big stiff guys who have a little game, and a legit 20-10 guy, portland is going to surprise people this year. i don't think there start is a fluke - i'd be surprised if they made the playoffs, but i think 30 plus wins barring injury to randolph is a given, particularly since every team in their division aside from Utah will be in disarray by jan 1.

charles "the secret weapon" jones

Posted by: charles jones | November 10, 2006 10:40 AM

ic/ml - thanks for the props. picked the paper up off the porch yesterday morning (subscriber!), and saw the blog post on the second page of the sports section. made my day (hey it's the little things in life. . .). now if i can just get above the fold. . .

one suggestion - we need more feature articles on the the nba in the post. wilbon and wise write the occassional article, but the frequency is a chafe. the substance of a lot of good articles about the NBA (not just the wizards) has been posted by you all here - put the press on your editors (pun intended).

Posted by: charles jones | November 10, 2006 10:48 AM

I am not impressed with the Bulls. They should of kept Chandler. With Chandler and Tyrus Thomas, Dang and Hinrich their future would look bright. They spent too much money on an aging one dimensional player IMO. Never been a Scott Skiles fan neither.

Bulls have stepped back. They are after thought for us now. Cavs are our rivalry now, and the team we must battle for the future domination of the league.

Posted by: Darnell | November 10, 2006 10:52 AM

Darnell, you are a bama. We blew out the Pacers without O'Neal. We looked awful for a half. Chicago is tight. They are gelling as we speak. They will punch us in the face everytime we play them. Once they realize they are close, they will trade for KG. Fact.

I love the Wizards but I am realistic about them. They play terrible defense. We will win 42-44 games. 6 seed. I just want you all to get your hopes ain't happening until we make a move.

Posted by: The Governor | November 10, 2006 11:12 AM

Governor, you need to get your facts straight. First whether they may or may not trade for KG, you are dealing with what ifs and could be's. Why don't you stick with reality Fantasy Boy!?

Bulls don't have one player as good as any of our Big 3. Who? Deng? Hinrich? Give me a break! Looks to me like the governor is voted out of office! Why don't you wake up, and let us know when you've stopped dreaming!

Posted by: Anonymous | November 10, 2006 11:22 AM

That last post was by Darnell in response to the governor aka "Full of Bull"! I think the governor has been drinking too much Red Bull malt liquor again. Got him seeing things like KG in a red uniform, or wait maybe it's Santa Claus!

Posted by: Darnell | November 10, 2006 11:44 AM

Yeah I agree with Darnell, *again*. ;)

The Bulls should have kept thier young guys and the more I think about it the Big Ben thing is a desperate move to win NOW.

They have some good guards but if Big Ben is on the bench at the end of the game then it's a waste of money.

They don't have anyone inside who can score, per what Charles Barkley said last night.

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | November 10, 2006 11:57 AM

i think that pretty well sums it up.

Posted by: poptart | November 10, 2006 1:42 PM

There are only two legit things about the Atlanta Hawks.

1. Salim Stoudamire- the greatest shooter alive and a hell of a neighbor

2. Apparel- check out the Mitchell and Ness throwback warmup.

Posted by: Unsilent Majority | November 10, 2006 2:49 PM

The Bulls' problems this season are post offense and nterior defense. They failed to get a big man who can score consistently inside. That puts the burden far too heavily on Gordon (who is WAY too inconsistent to be considered a legit 20 PPG threat) and Hinrich (who is more consistent (55% FG this year!) but less explosive) to carry the scoring burden. Especially since neither gets to the FT line much.

But they are still capable of winning 45+ games if they play strong defense. In their losses this season, it's been the porous defense that has cost them far more than any lack of offense. Ben Wallace sleepwalked his way through the Cleveland game, and the rest of the team followed suit. Gooden, Marshall, Ilgauskas were hitting open jumpers all night. Skiles should think hard about playing Khryapa and Thomas big minutes at PF, as they should have better success on defense against big guys who can play on the perimeter.

As for the Wizards -- they still play little defense. Until they do, they can't be considered one of the top couple teams in the East, either.

Posted by: TG | November 10, 2006 3:48 PM

I still think Chicago will easily be a top 3 team. They are a very slow starting team...gordon has a tendency to start slow during the season as well. Lets not forget they are still working on chemistry and rotations. As for offense, it will take care of its self. Defense will create offense...thats a fact. As for post scoring, they have Brown who showed he CAN score in the post and Mike Sweetney who can also pound it in the paint.

Posted by: Bilal Ahmed | November 10, 2006 5:45 PM

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