Editor's Note: To preview training camp and the 2005-06 season, John Hollinger addresses three key questions concerning the Bulls.
1. Were they over their heads last year?
Chicago was one of the league's biggest surprises a year ago, roaring to a 47-win season despite a miserable 2-13 start.
How the Bulls did it is a bit of a mystery at first glance.
Chicago ranked 27th in field-goal percentage, just edging out the Bobcats, and only four players averaged in double figures.
But while Chicago's offense was feeble, its defense was tremendous. Despite an odd mixture of players that were thought to be either too young or too old, the Bulls led the NBA in field-goal percentage defense thanks to their unrelenting effort. With virtually every player either a rookie trying to establish himself or a free-agent-to-be playing for a contract (or both, in Chris Duhon's case), no team was hungrier than this one.
But that also presents a hurdle for the coming season -- now that a lot of these players have new contracts, will they continue to put out maximum effort on every possession? Or will they begin to tune out the message of disciplinarian Scott Skiles?
Historically, teams that improve sharply in one season tend to regress the next (a phenomenon baseball researcher Bill James dubbed the Plexiglass Principle), and the Bulls will be fighting that trend tooth and nail this season.