Editor's Note: The Diss is proud to present a guest piece by Omar Bagnied. Though Omar is a frequent participant in our weekly roundtable discussions, this is Omar's first submission.
There are three reasons why the Bulls will be NBA champions this year.
1. They lead the league in offensive rebounding and allow under 90 points per game (PPG).
2. They win, with or without their stars.
3. Each player knows his role.
The statistic most telling of a team's effort is offensive rebounding. No matter a team's scoring prowess, off-shooting nights are inevitable. Offensive rebounding gives you a second chance, two shots for one possession. The Bulls snag 13.7 offensive boards a game, more than any other team in the league. With their adjusted field goal percentage at .497, they make just about every other shot they take. So almost 14 times a game, they can guarantee a basket.
The Bulls average 97.9 PPG while allowing 89.3 PPG, this +8.6 differential is best in the league. Furthermore, they're one of only two teams allowing under 90 PPG. NBA dogma propounds 100 PPG as the square number winning teams should shoot for. The Bulls have allowed 100 or more points in 9 of their 47 games. With their record at 37-10, one might come to the conclusion that the formula to defeat Chicago is to score 100 points. The only problem with that logic: when the Bulls allow 100 or more points, they're 7-2. Adjusting to whatever style you want to play is this team's forte; they can lock it down and play a gritty, low-scoring brand of basketball, or crank it up and run with the best of them.
The objective is to score more points than your opponent. Shooting the ball is how you score points. If you miss shots, you will lose the game. Chicago hedges their off-shooting nights by grabbing almost 14 offensive boards and implementing a defensive scheme that allows them to score 90 points and still win the game.
The Bulls are 9-4 without their best player, Derrick Rose. And we're not talking about "low scoring, barely eeking out a game" wins. 3 of those 9 wins came against Eastern conference contenders Miami, Boston and Philadelphia. 3 more came in absolute blowouts, beating Phoenix by 21, Charlotte by 31 and Cleveland by 39.
If we expand this a bit we can take a look at their 3rd and 4th leading scorers, Luol Deng and Richard Hamilton, who have missed significant time. Deng has been out 9 games, Hamilton 31 games. They're 6-3 without Deng and 24-7 without Hamilton. In games they've been without both Deng and Hamilton they're 5-1; without both Rose and Hamilton, 6-4.
Just as off-shooting is the game's decisive factor, injuries comprise the decisive externality in a failed championship run. But these bulls give a hell of an effort every time they step on that court, and they have quality depth. Injuries don't affect this team the way they do other teams. They have a winning system, and I just don't see any other team winning 4 games against them in a 7 game series.
"Next man up" mentality. This team is deep, the deepest in the league. And they have all the pieces necessary to win a championship. They're not Bron, Wade, Bosh and 12 other guys. There's no Durant-Westbrook power struggle. There's no vacillating allegiance as we see with Howard in Orlando and Gasol in Los Angeles. Each Bulls player knows his role. Watching them takes me back to Chicago's dynastic decade of the 90s.
The role of clear-cut team superstar and league MVP, mastered by Michael Jordan, is now reprised by Derrick Rose. 3-point shooting specialists Steve Kerr and John Paxson have passed the rifle on to marksman Kyle Korver. The rebounding, do-it-all garbage man Dennis Rodman, in all his oddity, discipled Joakim Noah. That 7-footer, from a land far away, was once the Longley of Australia, today the Asik of Turkey. The versatile secondary and tertiary scorers, Scottie Pippen and Toni Kukoc, able to put up 30 on any given night, now incorporate a quaternary in Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng and Richard Hamilton. And though the shoes of guards Ron Harper and BJ Armstrong don't quite fit John Lucas III and CJ Watson just yet, last week these up-and-comers showed Miami, Philadelphia and NBA fandom worldwide why Chicago boasts the league's deepest PG corps.
It's their year.
"We just have guys who flat-out work hard, come out to practice every day and when their number's called, step up. You have 1-14 that does that and knows their role; nobody's stepping outside their role...they're all playing their game. And everybody gets along; we're like a family, we're like a brotherhood. So when you have something like that, when one brother goes down, you've got their back."
Guard, Chicago Bulls