This Bulls season was always wrapped around #TheReturn that never arrived. At various points in the season, it seemed both impossible and plenty possible that Derrick Rose would suit up, and the Bulls would make a legit run in the postseason. And then, suddenly, the Bulls put together one of the most entertaining runs we’ve seen in recent memory without their captain.
The narrative of this season was so focused on what happened in the trainers’ room and the practice court, it’s hard to remember that there were 94 games played on the hardwood. So before we get into what will be a long, probably fairly uneventful offseason (Will they or won’t they re-sign Ronnie Brewer?!?!), let’s take a look back at a bumpy year:
Greatest Moment of 2012-2013:
Game Four of the first round, when the Bulls triumphed in triple overtime, thanks to C.J. Watson missing a breakaway dunk, Nazr Mohammed coming alive, and Nate Robinson blacking out.
The Depth of the Valley Award:
On March 13, the Bulls lost to the Sacramento Kings by 42 points. 42. Luckily, that wasn’t the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything.
“This is a competition. It’s not a show. It’s a competition. You’ve got to compete. You’ve got to play with an edge. You’ve got to go after people.”
The Season’s Greatest Dunks:
Taj Gibson over Kris Humphries:
Jimmy Butler over Chris Bosh:
Nate Robinson splits the defense:
Taj Gibson’s follow-up (special points for Stacey’s call):
Sickest Line of the Year:
We were tempted to give it to Joakim Noah for his Game Seven against the Nets:
40 minutes, 24 points on 12 for 17 shooting, 14 rebounds (seven offensive), six blocks, two assists and a steal for good measure.
But his triple double on February 28th, going for 23 points, 21 rebounds and 11 blocks was career-defining:
Taj Gibson. The Bulls’ power forward signed a $38 million contract extension, and then played through an injury-plagued season, never really putting together a productive streak. Gibson still played more games than last season and averaged more minutes, but his per-game numbers mirror last year’s, and his efficiency ratings dipped.
First Known Field Recording of Tom Thibodeau Laughing:
Most Unexpected, Least Thrilling YouTube Mix:
It belongs to Kirk Hinrich:
Asked whether it would be better to say he isn’t coming back: “No,” he said. “Who knows? It’s still in the air where I’m still trying to be positive and still trying to take care of my body.”
Best Use of a Liability:
Nate Robinson, ducking between Sebastian Telfair’s legs:
Biggest Myth of the Season:
That Carlos Boozer actually had a better year this year than last. In fact, he was down in almost any per-game stat, and his shooting suffered greatly. Take a look at his NBA.com shot charts from last season (on the left) and this year. The green represents a shooting percentage higher than league average, yellow represents average, and red is below average. Click on the image to embiggen:
The non-signing of Omer Asik. Yes, Omer had a good year this year, and yes, the Bulls could have used some more help behind Joakim. But let’s not forget that his contract is for $25 milly over three years, and he ranked 20th in centers who played in at least 60 games this year. Asik is a great defender and solid rebounder, but Jeff Van Gundy needs to hit a Turkish bath and relax.
Of course it’s Belinelli’s backpedaling elephantitis:
But Nate’s belt dance comes in a fairly close second, mostly because it infuriated Steve Novak so:
The Iron Man Award:
Jimmy Butler ended up playing 160 minutes and 41 seconds straight, a mind-boggling feat that made our infographic before Game Two obsolete in a hurry.
Best Stacey King Solo:
Honorable Mention: “Beep beep! See ya!”
(ChicagoSide intern Jonathan Greig contributed to this story.)