There's a prevailing sentiment out in Chicago, and it might already be stuck in your head.
"The Bulls need more stars to compete
This team needs stars for a title
It takes stars, stars, superstars..."
Enough already, that's too surface-level.
That line of thinking is a careless oversimplification of the matter, and it's time examine the matter a bit closer.
Look, it would be great to have Kevin Durant suit up alongside Derrick Rose.
But let's get our feet back on the ground, shall we?
It'd also be great to call The Great Gatsby this weekend. Maybe zip to the coast on a few turbo-charged hang gliders over tea...get back before lunch.
Another prevailing thought: "The Bulls are waiting for the bumper crop of 2014 free agents that could include LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony among others."
Why would Melo leave New York City?
Dude went all in with the Knicks when he tanked on the Denver Nuggets in 2011 so they'd trade him to NY.
LBJ isn't leaving Miami unless it's to kiss and make up with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Or maybe the alluring bright lights of Los Angeles and Lakers glory will tempt him.
Not The Windy City.
Now, do you still make the call in to these guys agents at 12:00.01 AM on July 1st?
Of course. You go through all the formalities too. The meet-and-greet, the hey-come-here pitch etc.
But then you move on to your real plans because these guys aren't playing in Chicago.
That doesn't mean it won't be nice to finally have some financial flexibility in the summer of 2014.
Many useful, more realistic players are slated to hit the market then too.
Full lst of expected 2013 and 2014 free agents
But it's time we scale expectations. This team doesn't need the sexy name. The God-sent "star." We've got one already in Derrick Rose, and one's quite enough, thanks. And what is the rest of the squad, steamed shrimp? The Bulls have, lest you forgot, a complete badass of a coach. The type you need if you're going to win without an embarrassment of talent.
The Bulls are a shooter and a reliable big off the bench away from beating Miami.
That's my opinion, but it's based in substance. The reasons?
1.) The Indiana Pacers-Miami Heat Eastern Conference Finals. You could argue that if it weren't for the bone-headed play of Lance Stephenson, Indy might have already licked, sealed, stamped and delivered this series in five games.
You're telling me the Bulls, a team designed in a similar blueprint--strong inside, great defense--couldn't submit a slightly better performance, given full health?
2.) A reportedly improved Derrick Rose. DERRICK ROSE.
[The hole in your heart where Derrick Rose should be]
It shows you can win without multiple superstars.
But don't take my word for it. The game's recent past tells the story much better.
A team with ZERO superstars--the 2004 Detroit Pistons--beat the LA Lakers, a team with two in-their-prime future Hall of Famers (Shaq and Kobe) and the aging-but-still-effective future Hall-of-Famers Karl Malone and Gary Payton.
If that isn't proof enough:
The San Antonio Spurs are notorious for winning as a team. They have three titles over the past ten years. In 2003, they won it with only one transcendent star, Tim Duncan. A fresh-faced Tony Parker was not close to stardom yet on a veteran-laden roster, filled out with names like Steve Kerr and Bruce Bowen. The great Manu Ginobli also burst on to the scene as a rookie that season, but his contribution was more surprise than stardom. It was a suffocating defensive system and timely scoring machine lead by General Gregg Popovich, not stars, which won the title.
Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks also turned the trick most recently in 2011. They beat these same Heat, with an in-his-prime Dwyane Wade. How'd they do it? Well, they were strong up the middle with Tyson Chandler. One transcendent star in Dirk. Had some hot shooters--Jason Terry and JJ Barea, the veteran leadership of Jason Kidd and a great coach in Rick Carlisle. Sound familiar?
That means at a bare minimum, 3 out of the last 10 NBA championships were won by teams with one or less superstars. 30%. I'll take those odd if I have to. And that's the minimum, there's a strong case to be made for one of the other two Spurs titles.
Now is it easier to win with stars? Yes, usually, as history also illustrates.
But this notion that it can't be done...Totally inaccurate.
The Bulls have one transcendent star (Rose) supplemented by three marginal "stars" in Joakim Noah (a top 5 NBA center) two-time All-Star Luol Deng and the fast-rising Jimmy Butler.
The rest of the team is filled out with nice complimentary pieces like Taj Gibson, Carlos Boozer and Kirk Hinirich (if he can stay healthy next season in a more limited role.)
What the Bulls are sorely missing isn't another superstar; it's a reliable outside shooter. They're missing a John Paxson. The guy that will help them spread the floor and give the team more space to stretch out. To hit the late-game dagger.
In a stroke of luck, Paxson himself just so happens to be the Bulls' VP of Basketball Operations.
[Read: Will Kyle Korver take less $ to return to Chicago?]
Adam Jun covers the Chicago Bulls for the Chicago Hoops Forum on sportsideo.com
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