After watching the Chicago Bulls beat the Miami Heat for the third time this season yesterday, I started thinking about how this squad is built for playoff contention. What better way to make that assessment than to compare this 2011 version to the squads we grew up with? The only other Bulls teams to make a significant run into the playoffs came away with six NBA championships. And at first glance, there are some stunning similarities between the two units from the 90s and Rose's Bulls. Upon closer look, it's scary.
Here is a list of the comparisons:
Michael Jordan = Derrick Rose
Obviously, this is not a stats or even talent comparison, since Jordan is arguably the best to have ever played. And he has six championships to back that up. But in terms of the team, it was obvious who got the ball at the end of the game. And this season, it's obvious that Derrick Rose is the man. You need the go-to star, and DR is this squad's MJ.
Scottie Pippen = Luol Deng
Again, Pip was one of the greats. Deng is not. But Deng serves a purpose similar to Pippen's role. Deng creates a shot, plays defense against the opponents' stars and makes clutch shots when the game is on the line. He's also like Pippen in that he is always hurt. Pippen was a better ball handler than Deng, and Pippen also made plays with much more flair. Deng needs to work on the flair. Deng is a Sudanese refugee. Pippen is from Arkansas. Pippen was a better passer and picked pockets with more regularity than Deng. But, Deng is better looking.
Dennis Rodman = Joakim Noah
Noah plays with the same intensity and energy around the basket. He isn't the most skilled shooter and rarely makes plays in the set, but once the chaos of the loose ball is unleashed, Noah is there. He's also the freakiest. Didn't he get busted for pot going back to visit his college? No one gets busted for pot in college. That's as bad as wearing your wedding dress in public while riding your Harley down Michigan Ave. See where I'm going with this?
Horace Grant = Carlos Boozer
Grant is taller, Boozer is bigger. Boozer plays a better game than Horace Grant ever did. Grant waited for Jordan to either miss or dish. Boozer is much more active in the post. But Boozer is the third option on this squad and does benefit from Rose's ability to get in the paint. Boozer has the well-trimmed beard, But Grant had the goggles. Boozer has a history of free agent faux-pas, which would be similar to Horace's exit to Orlando.
Steve Kerr = Kyle Korver
If Korver hits a couple well-timed three pointers in the playoff, he too will have every 5th grade kid from Naperville looking up to him like he is Steve Kerr. Chicago fans really do like white guys. Ask Kirk Hinrich, arguably one of THE worst players in Chicago Bulls history. When he touched the ball, there were screams in the UC. Korver is much more of a Reggie Miller type player, moving without the ball - where Kerr was much more of a spot-up shooter. But do you remember Kerr ever missing? I don't.
Ron Harper = Keith Bogans
Bogans is a little younger than Harper was when he came to Chicago. But both play a similar role of tight defense and strategic scoring when needed. Neither chucks, neither are ball hogs. They know their role and they match up against the premiere shooting guards on the other side of the court. Harper has a stutter, but won more championships with the Lakers after the Bulls. So I'm guessing he can coat that stutter in gold if he wanted to.
Luc Longley = Omar Asik
Both pretty slow, both pretty foreign. Big difference? Longley was left-handed. Hopefully Derrick Rose will learn to play alongside Asik with the same disdain that Jordan had when he played alongside Longley.
Stacey King = Taj Gibson
Now, I probably think much more of Stacey King than I should due to his resurgence in the broadcast booth. Actually, I think I remember King's contribution through NBA Live 95 for Sega Genesis, not from the actual game. Taj is probably much more athletic than King and he probably has more of a Jason Caffey-type feel for the post-up. But King and Taj have one big thing in common - they can make mistakes. Hey Taj, be thankful I didn't compare you to Dickey Simpkins.
Buddha Edwards/Robert "Chief" Parrish = Kurt Thomas
Thomas is one of the oldest players in the league. One of the successful ingredients of both championship squads was the use of old centers who could play 5-10 minutes if called upon. Buddha and the Chief were both stars before they came to the Bulls. Thomas fits that role, although he was much more of a journeyman in his long career in basketball.
Scottie Burrell = Ronnie Brewer
I thank my colleague Nathan Biggs for remembering the other Scottie. Burrell was a great pickup who pushed the second team and was essentially the scorer when Jordan, Pippen, Bison Dele, Steve Kerr and Ron Harper were in foul trouble. Brewer plays a similar role. Ronnie has more defensive prowess but is definitely a shooter when the ball hits his hands. Brewer is probably a better looker than Burrell was. I remember Burrell to be kind of chubby?
Randy Brown = CJ Watson
Randy Brown had hustle. Not so much skill, but hustle. For everything Randy Brown was for the defensive side of the ball, Watson is for the offensive side of the ball. I distinctly remember Randy Brown taking waaaaay too many shots in mop-up duty when called upon. Watson takes too many shots with the second team. Brown had that spark plug like intensity and Watson's speed definitely mirrors that. Now if Watson could work on his "Foul? Foul on me? What, how could you call a foul on me? Pleeeeeeeaaasseeeee!" look? Then we have a match.
Jack Haley = Brian Scalabrine
Haley babysat Rodman. Scalabrine babysits Thibideau. Hey, every team needs one. A guy who can be the first to run out and slap a high five on the star.
Jo Jo English = Rajul Butler
When the time comes Rajul, you must punch Derek Harper (or equivalent thereof) in the face in a playoff game.