State of the Bulls at midseason
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Center Joakim Noah is the Bulls' first-half MVP and guard D.J. Augustin is the Bulls' most improved player, according to Mike McGraw.
The Bulls spent Super Sunday in Sacramento, Calif., working on how to reverse last season's 42-point loss in the city.
After getting buried by the blocked shots of Anthony Davis in Saturday's loss to New Orleans, there isn't much new going on with the Bulls, so here's a midseason collection of lists:
•Best Bulls opponent: 1. Anthony Davis, Pelicans; 2. Kevin Love, Timberwolves; 3. Michael Carter-Williams, Sixers.
Davis gets extra credit for being a Chicago native, but his overall game was awfully impressive. Kevin Durant didn't make the list because he scored just 32 points against the Bulls on Dec. 19. Off-night for him.
•Bulls' first-half MVP: 1. Joakim Noah; 2. Taj Gibson; 3. Jimmy Butler.
Noah has done everything for the Bulls during their New Year's surge, but since he's not a big scorer, there will no doubt be more 79-point nights like the one in New Orleans.
Gibson's contract extension already appears to be a bargain. Butler's shooting has been spotty, but he leads the team in plus-minus.
•Most improved Bull: 1. D.J. Augustin; 2. Gibson; 3. Tony Snell.
Augustin improved in a hurry, considering he got cut by Toronto in December. Snell even playing is an upset in itself, knowing Tom Thibodeau's history with rookies.
•Best Bulls lineup: This one can be found using the advanced stats on nba.com. The first one is tied for the second-best five-man lineup in the NBA this season. Unfortunately, it's no longer possible.
1. Carlos Boozer, Butler, Luol Deng, Kirk Hinrich, Noah: plus 7.5
2. Boozer, Butler, Deng, Noah, Derrick Rose: plus 3.5
3. Augustin, Mike Dunleavy, Gibson, Noah, Snell: plus 2.3
•Most likely to be an ex-Bull: 1. Boozer; 2. Augustin; 3. Toko Shengelia. Maybe I'm counting out Shengelia too soon, but Boozer is going to be amnestied and Augustin probably will follow the Nate Robinson path out of town after playing well for the Bulls.
•Potential future Bulls: 1. Nikola Mirotic; 2. C.J. Miles; 3. Lavoy Allen; 4. Ben Gordon.
What, no Carmelo Anthony? He's an extreme longshot, but the Bulls should have some cap room left if they land their top target, Mirotic. But this summer is not a great one for free agents.
The Bulls could use a true shooting guard and an extra big man. Not many choices out there for the small amount the Bulls will have to spend. This also is a strong reason why Mike Dunleavy won't be traded. They'll need him next year.
•Future home of Luol Deng: 1. Dallas; 2. L.A. Lakers; 3. Phoenix; 4. Washington; 5. Cleveland.
After making the trade, the Cavaliers probably will give Deng his best free-agent offer this summer.
here are plenty of teams with cap room, and based on the early returns Deng will be looking at Cleveland and beyond. Dallas could be a nice fit, stepping in for Shawn Marion. The next three teams on the list also figure to have interest.
•Bulls' first-round playoff opponent: 1. Toronto; 2. Atlanta; 3. Brooklyn; 4. none.
A 4 vs. 5 matchup against the Raptors would be interesting, and the Bulls' first playoff matchup outside the United States.
Missing out on the playoffs doesn't seem all that likely right now, with Charlotte, Detroit, New York and Cleveland as the teams that would have to make up a lot of ground to push the Bulls out of the top eight.
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