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updated: 10/22/2012 6:10 PM

NBA GMs: Indiana will win Central, not Bulls

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  • A survey of NBA GMs posits that the Indiana Pacers will win the Central Division this season. Indiana forward Paul George, left, is seen shooting under pressure from Bulls guard Ronnie Brewer in this game from last December.

      A survey of NBA GMs posits that the Indiana Pacers will win the Central Division this season. Indiana forward Paul George, left, is seen shooting under pressure from Bulls guard Ronnie Brewer in this game from last December.

  • According to a survey of league GMs, Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, left, and Dwyane Wade will be heading back to the NBA Finals this season.

      According to a survey of league GMs, Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, left, and Dwyane Wade will be heading back to the NBA Finals this season.
    Associated Press

  • One day might we say LeBron James was better than Michael Jordan? TNT analyst Charles Barkely said Monday that if James wins four or five titles, you can have a conversation about it.

      One day might we say LeBron James was better than Michael Jordan? TNT analyst Charles Barkely said Monday that if James wins four or five titles, you can have a conversation about it.
    Associated Press

 
 

The Bulls didn't really need another reminder that Derrick Rose is unlikely to play until February or March, but they got one in the form of the annual NBA general managers survey.

Which team will win the Central Division? Eighty percent of league bosses say Indiana.

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Which team will win the Eastern Conference? More than 96 percent chose Miami and the only logical reason Boston got a single mention is because the GMs weren't supposed to vote for their own team.

Who is the league's best point guard? Chris Paul from the Los Angeles Clippers won handily with 69 percent of the vote. Rose took second place, which isn't bad for someone recovering from ACL surgery.

The Bulls won two categories: Best defensive team and, naturally, which coach has the best defensive schemes.

Tom Thibodeau was shut out in the "best coach" category, where San Antonio's Gregg Popovich received 80 percent of the vote. Thibodeau's former boss, Boston's Doc Rivers, was a distant second.

One category brought some reason for encouragement. Bulls 2011 draft pick Nikola Mirotic placed second in "best international player not in the NBA" behind Juan Carlos Navarro.

In a related topic, the Bulls play their final United Center preseason game Tuesday against Oklahoma City. At the moment, no one is billing the matchup as a Finals preview.

All the Bulls can do is try to have some success early in the season, get used to their six newcomers and be ready for Rose's return.

"It takes time to get on the same page," Carlos Boozer said. "But just like when we all came together in 2010, it took us time to get used to each other and get into the flow. It will take time this year too, but the great thing is we have a full training camp. This whole month has been great for us and each day, each week, we'll get better."

The Bulls finish the preseason on Friday against Indiana in South Bend. They'll be decided underdogs in that one, if NBA general managers know anything about Central Division strength.

Thibs talks LeBron and MJ:

Comparing LeBron James to Michael Jordan is sort of a tired, yet incomplete topic. As long as Jordan leads the ring count 6-1, James doesn't have much of an argument. But he could always close the gap in the coming years.

"All those type of comparisons are tough to make," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said Monday. "I don't think you can do it until LeBron is done. To speculate now I guess makes for interesting conversation. They're both great.

"Jordan put so much pressure on you in so many different ways. It's a different game now than it was then. It was a lot more physical then it is today. You couldn't play zone the way you can today. In some ways, having the ability to play some zone and use some zone principles helps. It's still difficult to guard the great players. But it helps some."

Thibodeau got his first job as an NBA assistant coach in 1989-90 with Minnesota, so he had plenty of opportunities to devise defenses to stop Jordan. Thibodeau became part of a significant Bulls rival in 1996 when he joined Jeff Van Gundy's New York Knicks.

"Those were some great battles," Thibodeau added. "I thought we had a great team in New York. What he did was just incredible."

Bull horns:

TNT analyst Charles Barkley weighed in on the LeBron-Jordan comparison during an appearance on WMVP 1000-AM. "If LeBron can win four or five (titles), it's a legitimate conversation in my opinion," he said. "I never thought I would compare someone to Michael Jordan." ... Bulls guard Richard Hamilton got a mention in the NBA GMs survey, finishing second to Ray Allen in "Which players moves best without the ball." Chicago native Anthony Davis (New Orleans) was the heavy favorite to win rookie of the year.

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