This post stems from a debate I had with a fellow NBA fan about whether or not the Bulls were a legit contender. I’ve said all year that I believed they were. They’ve been my dark horse team since the pre-season and since then have only confirmed my belief. However, this fellow made a comment that I think resonates with a lot of people when discussing the Bulls. He said that they were the Utah Jazz of the East. I want to specifically use this post to debunk this notion
On the surface, this seems like a valid point. After all, they have three players on this Bulls team who have recently played for the Jazz. Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver, and Ronnie Brewer. Their best player is a point guard. When one simply looks at the roster and the leader of that roster, it would seem that Jazz of the East is a fitting description.
However, that is where the similarities end. Let us discuss what, in my eyes, make up the big differences between this Bulls team and the recent Utah Jazz teams.
First, the Bulls have that one thing that the Jazz have been looking for and desperately needing over the last 4-5 years. That is, they have a legit center that not only is a great rebounder but is an elite defender. Had the Utah Jazz had Joakim Noah to play alongside Boozer over the last few years, they would have been a serious threat to beat the Lakers. They didn’t, and because of that they had no one to challenge the size of the Laker’s front court. Also, not only can defend and rebound, but he has become a reliable double-digit scorer who is going to get you 12-14 a game just off of put-backs and easy dunks. Basically, Noah is the player the Jazz have always needed, and the Bulls have him.
This leads directly to my next point, defense. Over the last 5 years the best defensive efficiency that the Jazz have posted was a number of 102.9, which was good enough to rank them 11th in the league in 09-10. The Bulls current defensive eff. rating? 96.4. That ranks first in the league. The 07-08 Boston Celtics, which is widely considered one of the best defensive teams in the last decade, posted a rating of 96.2. All of this simply means that this current Bulls team is more than a cut above the Jazz recent Jazz teams when it comes to defense. This reason alone is enough to say that the Bulls are going to be a different animal in the playoffs than the Jazz have been. They play elite defense. The Jazz haven’t.
But finally, let’s look at a very simple statistic, the W/L statistic. The Bulls are on pace fo 58 wins. The last time the Jazz posted that number? 97-98, the last time they went to the finals. Stockton and Malone. The closest the Jazz were to that number in the Williams/Boozer era? 54 in 07-08.
The differences are massive. This Bulls team has a very good center, plays elite defense, and is on pace to win more games than the recent Jazz teams did. This version of the Chicago Bulls is a completely different force than the recent Utah Jazz teams.