Updated: Oct. 27, 2006, 11:56 AM ET

SPECIAL PREVIEW EDITION
Big Ben, big expectations

Bulls

Team Page | Schedule | Roster | Hollinger Stats

Where will the Chicago Bulls finish in the Central Division and the Eastern Conference? Get 10 different takes from ESPN's NBA experts.

ANALYST COMMENT
Greg
Anthony

ESPN.com
With Ben Wallace, the interior D and rebounding will be better, but ability to finish around the rim is a weakness, and Ben can't help there. Without that No. 1 option on O, it's hard to compete for a championship.
DIVISION RANK: 3 | CONFERENCE RANK: 5
Chris
Broussard

ESPN Mag
Only my fifth seed, but remember, they're in the toughest division in the East. They'll improve as they go, and Ben will be Ben, anchoring the best defensive unit in the league, but lack of inside punch on the other end will be their downfall.
DIVISION RANK: 3 | CONFERENCE RANK: 5
Ric
Bucher

ESPN Mag
No one made more offseason noise, but did they really improve? They already were the league's staunchest defense, and that couldn't get them above .500 or beyond the first round. Unless they deal for KG or Jermaine O'Neal, I don't see more than marginal improvement.
DIVISION RANK: 3 | CONFERENCE RANK: 5
Chad
Ford

ESPN.com
Adding Big Ben will make the league's best defense even tougher. But the failure to address their biggest weakness, low-post scoring, means the Bulls won't take as big a jump as some are predicting.
DIVISION RANK: 3 | CONFERENCE RANK: 5
John
Hollinger

ESPN.com
The addition of Big Ben is a big reason to like this team, but not the only one. The Bulls are deep nearly everywhere and should be the league's top defensive team, but the lack of offense remains an issue, especially up front.
DIVISION RANK: 2 | CONFERENCE RANK: 3
Scoop
Jackson

ESPN.com
In the Bulls' first legit chance to escape the six-ring shadow, they'll have the signing of BW3, Kirk Hinrich and Andres Nocioni breaking out, and Ben Gordon balling like it's his contract extension year. Which it is.
DIVISION RANK: 3 | CONFERENCE RANK: 5
Tim
Legler

ESPN.com
Wallace is not enough to push them to the top. They still lack a low-post threat and they live by the jumper. But Chicago does have a nice group of young guards and a promising athlete in rookie Tyrus Thomas.
DIVISION RANK: 3 | CONFERENCE RANK: 5
Jim
O'Brien

ESPN.com
With Ben Wallace and the league's best defense, they will battle Miami and Detroit for Eastern supremacy. But they still do not have the dominating player that gets teams to the championship level.
DIVISION RANK: 2 | CONFERENCE RANK: 3
Chris
Sheridan

ESPN.com
We're not sold on Gordon being a nightly 20-point scorer and Luol Deng being a better choice to start than Nocioni, but we like the addition of P.J. Brown as much as, if not more than, the Wallace signing.
DIVISION RANK: 2 | CONFERENCE RANK: 2
Marc
Stein
ESPN.com
Skeptics are quick to note that Wallace does nothing for Chicago offensively, but I keep going back to what a rival GM told me: "Imagine what kind of job Scott Skiles will do now that he actually has a couple bigs."
DIVISION RANK: 2 | CONFERENCE RANK: 3
 
Average ranks

DIVISION: 2.6 | Standings
CONFERENCE: 4.1 | Standings


Don't Fly For Me, Argentina
Nocioni
Jeff Roberson/AP Photo
Andres Nocioni's second year in the NBA showed him making adjustments to the 3-point line. The Argentinean's trademark hustle also helped him thrive in Chicago.


Lineup Breakdown

STARTERS ANALYSIS
Kirk Hinrich
Point Guard
6-3 | 190
An improving Gordon and a healthy Deng add up to more than 6.3 apg.
Ben Gordon
Shooting Guard
6-3 | 200
Gunner or All-Star? Check back with us in February.
Luol Deng
Small Forward
6-9 | 220
When he shakes nagging injuries, it's breakout time.
P.J. Brown
Power Forward
6-11 | 239
If you know a steadier post man older than 35, call us.
Ben Wallace
Center
6-9 | 240
Topflight D adds four-time DPOY -- what's not to like?
Bench: Andres Nocioni and Chris Duhon have started playoff games. Still, rooks Tyrus Thomas and Thabo Sefolosha will push them for PT. That's depth.

ESPN The Magazine's NBA Preview hits newsstands October 25.



Hollinger's Player Spotlight
Viktor Khryapa
Player efficiency rating
projection: 11.37
vs. NBA avg.: -3.63
Bulls profiles

Scouting report: Khryapa's best attribute was his effort, which stood out on a Portland team where several players were openly mailing it in. However, he has zero ability to create his own shot and is a very poor ballhandler for a small forward. He's reasonably athletic and can get some easy baskets running the floor, but he isn't terribly coordinated and his outside shot is iffy.

Defensively, Khryapa is strong in help situations and knows how to use his body, which made him especially effective against small forwards who like to post up. He also takes charges, and his rebound rate ranked 11th among small forwards. However, he was vulnerable to penetration when guarding the perimeter and was an absolute foul magnet who averaged nearly one personal for every seven minutes.

2006-07 outlook: Khryapa has zero chance of starting 53 games again this year, especially since he was traded to the Bulls as a throw-in in the Blazers' draft day trade for LaMarcus Aldridge. He faces an uphill climb to get into Chicago's regular rotation, as the Bulls' roster is already overrun with forwards.

However, Khryapa's tough-minded play could quickly endear him to coach Scott Skiles, allowing him to work his way into the mix as a role player. Besides, few coaches use the end of their bench as liberally as Skiles does. Unfortunately for Khryapa, he won't see more than sporadic use unless he can add a few more baskets in between his dives into the crowd for loose balls.


Now And Ben
Wallace
Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images
Ben Wallace brings his defensive prowess to the Chicago paint, and a feeling that the Bulls' time is now.


SportsNation Speaks
Big Ben isn't the only new face in town. SportsNation sizes up the rest of the newcomers to Chicago.

Which newcomer other than Ben Wallace will have the biggest impact?
50.5% Tyrus Thomas
30.6% P.J. Brown
8.7% Thabo Sefolosha
5.7% Adrian Griffin
4.5% Viktor Khryapa

Vote: Bulls in 2006-07



Ask A Blogger
Bulls

What would it take for you to get a tattoo of the Bulls' logo on your chest?

Over the past two seasons, John Paxson and Scott Skiles have crafted a young, hardworking and exciting team.

The stakes have been raised with the signing of Ben Wallace to anchor what should be the best defense in the league, while emulating Ben's former team in using a team-oriented attack.

The signal has been sent to the league that the Bulls are no longer content with being first-round playoff fodder; instead, they're aiming for a seventh championship rally in Grant Park next summer. Such a celebration may even get me over my lifelong fear of needles.

Matt Bernhardt | BlogABull.com



Coach's Corner

SCOTT SKILES COACHING FILE
Experience: 6 years
Record: 223-204
Playoffs: 9-16
NBA titles: 0
Coach's profile

On paper, adding Ben Wallace to the roster suggests immediate improvement. But that doesn't mean Scott Skiles' job is easy.

Skiles must find a way to ensure Wallace does not detract from his team's already mediocre offense -- the Bulls finished 22nd in the league in field-goal percentage.

Yes, they were the best team in the NBA in defensive field-goal percentage, but it's hard to improve when you are already the best.

Playing as a favorite most nights is a wholly new challenge for the Bulls' young players, too.

David Thorpe, ESPN.com NBA analyst



Hollinger's Team Strength
Defense. If the Bulls were tough to score against last season, what's it going to be like this season with a four-time Defensive Player of the Year manning the middle? The addition of Wallace makes the Bulls much more formidable, but he's not the only reason to have a new fear of the Bulls in the paint.

Thomas is a spectacular shot-blocker whose athleticism should help make up for his inexperience.

Brown, though long in the tooth, remains a quality defender at power forward and an adequate one even at center.

Sefolosha and Griffin make up for the Bulls' biggest weakness a season ago, size in the backcourt, while Khryapa is a hustling, aggressive defender at either forward spot.

That armada of defensive talent joins a group that already was very solid. Hinrich is one of the best defensive guards in the game and may get All-Defense consideration this season, while Duhon also is outstanding provided his back holds up.

Nocioni's toughness and physical play make him a pest at either forward spot, while Deng's length and athleticism could make him stopper material in the near future.

More Hollinger Bulls analysis Insider



Fantasy Fix
Deng
Deng

Sleeper: Luol Deng should continue to improve in his third season. He shoots a reasonable percentage and enjoyed a strong second half in '05-06.

Because the Bulls are so balanced, his numbers won't always blow you away, but having Ben Wallace as a teammate should benefit him.

Bust: P.J. Brown was a nice addition for a Bulls team looking to go deep in the playoffs. He's a great guy to have in the locker room, but since team chemistry isn't a huge priority in fantasy, he'll do your team no good. He's not good enough in any one category to be considered.

Keith Lipscomb | Fantasy Hoops Index

SPONSORED HEADLINES

 

Search Arrow