The Other Side: Chicago Bulls

Oh, wait. Let's watch that replay of your crossover on Andre Miller one . . . more . . . time. (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Chicago Bulls experienced a campaign last season similar to the one the woeful Washington Wizards are having right now. A group of players who overachieved the season before couldn't play at the same levels again, the coach got fired and they fell back into the lottery. The Wizards haven't made any blockbuster trades, as the Bulls eventually had to do, but who knows what's around the corner, huh?

But there was some silver lining to that miserable campaign. With just a 1.7 chance of winning the lottery, the Bulls got the No. 1 pick. Of course, next year, there is no amateur player who compares to Derrick Rose.

Oh well, the Wizards get to see the Bulls, rookie Rose and first-year coach Vinny Del Negro for the first time tonight at United Center. The Bulls (8-11) have lost two in a row, but here's what else you need to know about the team that has changed considerably since meeting the Wizards in a great first-round series in 2005 (for the people who refuse to remember, the Wizards and Gilbert Arenas actually won):

1. Derrick Rose = ROY?

LeBron James was the last No. 1 overall pick to win the rookie of the year award. Like James, Rose was selected by his hometown team and he has quickly energized the local fan base. You can read about Rose in this excellent profile by Sports Illustrated's Lee Jenkins.

Rose is averaging 18.7 points and 5.9 assists And, from talking to other people around the league about Rose, not only is the real deal as a player, but he doesn't seem to be wrapped up in his own hype. He is as humble and hungry as they come. The Chicago Sun-Times' Rick Telander has a nice column about how Rose is an old-school player in a 'Sportcenter' world. It gives you a nice understanding of the kid.

I went to see Rose in Philadelphia on Sunday. He had a good share of highlights, from an impressive alley-oop dunk, an incredible, chase-down-from-behind blocked shot, and this crossover dribble that will be replayed and replayed for some time. I had to watch this about 15 times:

2. The Bulls Are Seeking Consistency
The Bulls have been a difficult team to get a handle on this season. Is it the team that has wins over Phoenix, Dallas and Utah, or the one that gets blasted by 42 in Portland? Several Bulls have been struggling, including Andres Nocioni and Luol Deng, but Tyrus Thomas has been their version of Andray Blatche, a player that teases with flashes and disappears.

3. Luol Deng Is Having Another Rough Season
This time last year, Deng was rumored to be the one piece that held up any (supposed) trade for Kobe Bryant. He was coming off a season in which he averaged 18.8 points and truly exploded in the playoffs, where he averaged 22.2. But Deng couldn't agree to a contract extension, and the trade rumors were blamed on his disappointing season last year, when he averaged 17 points.

Deng was handed a six-year, $71-million contract last summer, solidifying him as the Bulls' foundation. However, Deng is averaging just 13.1 points and shooting a career-low 41.3 points. He had a hamstring injury that forced him to miss three games, but he is also struggling to adjust to an offense centered around Rose.

By Michael Lee |  December 6, 2008; 11:21 AM ET
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Let's get a win tonight Wizards!! :)

Posted by: rachel216 | December 6, 2008 5:26 PM

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