The NBA odds have been shifting a lot during the off-season due to trades, sales, and other important news. In this report, Matt Jordan explains how the Chicago Bulls future odds should be played.
The big story line from Team USA's basketball camp in Las Vegas as the Americans prepare for the upcoming FIBA World Cup is how good Derrick Rose has looked. If he's back to MVP form, the Bulls should be East favorites on NBA odds.
Bloom Was Off The Rose
It's almost hard to remember how good Rose was in his 2010-11 MVP season when he averaged 25.0 points, 7.7 assists and 4.1 rebounds in leading the Bulls to a 62-20 record that was the best in the NBA. Rose became the NBA's youngest MVP at age 22 and Chicago reached the conference finals, losing in five to LeBron James' first Heat team. The world was Rose's oyster.
He played just 39 of a possible 66 regular-season games in the 2011-12 lockout campaign because of a variety of injuries. Still, the Bulls thought they were equipped to beat Miami in the playoffs. Then disaster struck on April 28, 2012, at the United Center as Rose tore his ACL late in a playoff win over the Philadelphia 76ers (that should tell you how long ago it was that Philadelphia was a playoff team after how bad the Sixers were last season). To no surprise, the devastated Bulls were upset by Philly in six games.
The 2012-13 season was frankly an annoyance for Bulls fans because there were near-daily updates on when/if Rose would return. He'll be back at Christmas. He'll return right after the All-Star Break, etc. Rose didn't play a minute, hurting his reputation a bit in the Windy City. It seemed as if his advisers, brother Reggie and agent B.J. Armstrong, were controlling his decisions. The Bulls were still a pretty good team and reached the conference semifinals, losing in five to Miami again.
Last season, Rose was ready from Game 1, but he looked very rusty, shooting just 35.4 percent from the field (by far a career low) and averaging only 15.9 points. In Rose's 10th game, in Portland on Nov. 22, 2013, he went down with another knee injury. This time it was a torn meniscus in his right knee, which actually was somewhat good news because that's not as serious as an ACL tear. Again without their star, the Bulls largely overachieved but were knocked off rather easily in the first round of the playoffs by underdog Washington.
That brings us to the Team USA camp. Rose is one of 19 players hoping to make the 12-man team that will go to Spain and is a huge 2/7 favorite on basketball odds to repeat as the World Cup gold-medal winner (used to be called World Championships). Rose has looked explosive in the video that has been released to the public. Several guys on hand have said Rose looks like a better player than he did on that 2010 team that won gold. Team USA assistant Jim Boeheim of Syracuse has said Rose has been the "most impressive guy" here. Head coach Mike Krzyzewski of Duke has said Rose has been "phenomenal" and is "going after everybody." Rose himself says he's better than ever and will play "smarter" in terms of the abuse his body can take. He says he will be "smart with my speed instead of just running wild out there."
It's no sure thing Rose makes the 12-man team because Team USA is stacked with point guards. It will help his cause that Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, an assistant on the staff, will no doubt be pleading Rose's case to Coach K and Co. While most NBA teams really don't want their guys competing (Minnesota told Kevin Love he probably shouldn't go -- and he didn't), the Bulls are probably happy that Rose can work the rust off now instead of during the early portions of the regular season.
Right now the Cleveland Cavaliers are the +115 favorites at sportsbooks to win the East with Chicago at +360. Cleveland's odds will get shorter once the Love trade is completed. The Bulls also made a strong offer but all reports are the Timberwolves want the Cavs' Andrew Wiggins.
The Cavs will have some offensive punch with LeBron, Love and Kyrie Irving, but they aren't going to be very good defensively. LeBron is still a great defender, but Irving and Love are below average. Chicago will again be one of the NBA's best on defense because that's Thibodeau's expertise and they have top defenders Joakim Noah (the Defensive Player of the Year), Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler. The offense should go from the worst in 2013-14 to at least Top 15 with Rose's return, the addition of rookies Doug McDermott (who lit up the Las Vegas Summer League) and Nikola Mirotic, and the free-agent signing of Pau Gasol, a big upgrade over the amnestied Carlos Boozer. The Bulls have some decent guard depth behind Rose after re-signing Kirk Hinrich and adding Aaron Brooks. Don't get me wrong, this won't be the L.A. Clippers offensively, but it will be a much better team on that end.
NBA Free Picks
Take Chicago at +360 on NBA odds to win the East as one of your NBA picks. It's going to take the Cavaliers a season to adjust to one another. Even LeBron said he didn't think his team was ready to win a title in 2014-15. Chicago is +1200 to win the NBA title, and I said recently that I expect a Bulls-Clippers Finals. I still lean Clippers there, but if Rose continues to progress that might change. McDermott's Rookie of the Year odds have gotten shorter after his Vegas performance, now at +1000. Alas, Thibodeau is stingy with minutes for rookies. So while Dougie McBuckets will play more than most Bulls rookies under Thibs, he won't get enough time on the court to win ROY.