Chicago Bulls = Betting Disaster
by Trevor Whenham - 01/18/2008
The Chicago Bulls are truly a disaster. There is really no way to be nicer about this mess of a team than that. It wasn't supposed to go this way. They had improved significantly each of the last two years, they have a young and impressive roster with solid veterans at the core, they had a solid draft and a coach who was fiery and controversial but talented, and a had a boatload of buzz coming into the season - they had the world on a string. It hasn't worked out quite like it was supposed to. Their record is in the tank, the roster is under-performing from top to bottom, the top draft pick is the lead actor in a ridiculous soap opera, the coach is long gone, and the team is a punch line.
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Despite what his teammates seem to think, Joakim Noah is not to blame for everything that has gone wrong. He is, however, a pretty clear symptom of the sickness that has embraced this team and made this season a disaster. The kid came into the NBA from Florida with two championship rings and an ego the size of the state. He decided very early on in the season that it was his place to tell the veterans what they were doing wrong and how they could be better. Vets wouldn't take that from a young LeBron James, so they sure aren't going to take it from a guy averaging 4.4 points per game in less than 13 minutes. The situation got so bad that after a recent outburst the team took the bizarre and likely unprecedented move of voting that he should be suspended for a game. He learned so much from that embarrassing situation that he got in a fight with Ben Wallace less than a week later. At this rate his dead body will be stuffed into the cargo hold of the team's jet before Valentine's Day.
Despite everything that is going wrong for the team (15-22, 13-24 ATS), there's always a chance that they could turn it all around. If they do then there will be some real profits for those NBA handicappers who back them. Before you start spending that money, though, you need to make sure that they are actually better than they have been so far. Here's a look at how they have got where they are and if it can improve going forward:
Consistency - The best winning 'streak' this team has managed all year is two games in a row. They have done that twice, but they have never managed three in a row. Even the Knicks have won three straight. They do, however, have losing streaks of eight, seven and five games on their record. The team can't win with any consistency, but they sure know how to lose. That's the kind of team that's better to bet against than for. They did cover three games in a row once, but those were the only games they covered in that 10-game stretch.
Stepping up against quality competition - For some bizarre reason the Bulls are like Kryptonite to the Pistons' Superman. The teams have met up twice this year, and the Bulls have won both times. Unfortunately, that's the only team with a winning record that the team has managed to beat all year besides an injury-riddled Washington team. The rest of the time they have squeaked out wins against teams as bad as they are or worse. Against the teams that have a pulse they haven't shown up. How you want to interpret that can go a couple of ways. You can either say that it is a positive sign that they can at least beat the bad teams, or you can be concerned that they are a doormat for the quality in the league.
Depth - Ben Gordon and Luol Deng are basically doing their jobs, though the scoring average is down for both players. Beyond that, the roster isn't living up to the hefty expectations they faced coming into the season. Andres Nocioni has regressed, Kirk Hinrich has taken a giant step back, Joe Smith is looking his age, Ben Wallace is looking like Joe Smith's grandfather, Tyrus Thomas is teetering dangerously close to the brink of draft bust status, and Joakim Noah has been a disaster. Other than that, things are going just fine. Before the season started it looked like Kobe Bryant might be added to the team. At that point it didn't happen at least in part because the price was too high. Now I'm sure management would give up the whole roster without complaint.
Alright, on second thought maybe this is a team that isn't going to right the ship any time soon. You might want to keep your money in your pocket for a while before you start betting on them. Come to think of it, betting on the other team regardless of who it is doesn't look too bad, does it? Next year, with a few new pieces, a subtraction or two, and a new attitude this team probably deserves a mulligan, but it's a long time until next year.