Chicago Bulls To Ride That 'D' In 2009

Part of the reason the Chicago Bulls brought in Vinny Del Negro to coach this team was to instill the kind of offensive firepower he oversaw during his time as a front office member of the Phoenix Suns.

So, why all the talk about defense?

It could be because the team sincerely wants to get back to its championship roots. 

Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen carried much of the offensive load during the golden era of Bulls basketball, but it was their defense that was overlooked because of it.  Jordan is known as the greatest player ever because he could defend like a damn doberman after soaring to the hoop.  Like His Airness, Pippen's could guard four different positions on the court if you asked him to.  His build and athletic ability, not to mention his instincts carried him to anchoring the Bulls' defense.

Or it could be because the team sorely lacks the offensive weapons to outscore teams.

When the Bulls have their scoring droughts, losing Ben Gordon's offensive output will likely be the main reason.  Sure, Luol Deng returns ... but the Bulls need to find out which one will show up to the court.  And fast.  Will it be the player that averaged 18.8 points per game in 2006 or the oft-injured star who had to see more doctors than pregnant Maury Show guest in 2008?

John Salmons averaged 18.3 points per game after joining the Bulls at the trade deadline, but did most of his damage when Deng was out of the line-up.  Salmons will be a small forward lining up at the shooting guard position, which will be good on the defensive side of the ball.  However, it has yet to be seen how a pair of wing forwards will play on the offensive side of the ball when they're on the court at the same time.

Kirk Hinirch is the team's sixth man ... and a damn good (but expensive) one at that.

Here's hoping Joakim Noah spent as much time refining his offensive game as he did refining his game spitting.  I expect nothing more offensively from Tyrus Thomas than a few tip-dunks, fast-break slams and an 18-footer once in every 10 attempts.

Then there's Derrick Rose.  No Bulls player will be met with higher expectations than the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year.  If he takes the kind of leaps Deron Williams and Chris Paul took after their respective rookie seasons, then the Bulls will be fine.  If he doesn't, then the Bulls might be sending extra scouts to see Ed Davis, Derrick Favors or Cole Aldrich.

Don't get it twisted, Bulls fans.  The 2009-10 Bulls will go only as far as Derrick Rose will take them.