The Bulls best players of the 2000’s, have some talent, but at least so far there is no heir apparent to the great Michael Jordan. The days of Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Horance Grant are long lost. The past decade for the Chicago Bulls was a rough time for all of their fans. This is franchise that is used to being not only in the talk for the NBA Championship, but the favorite for it. That is what Michael Jordan did to this team and the city; they expect to win now. To say the least, the decade didn’t start out too well for the Chicago Bulls as they failed to make the playoffs from 2001-2004. In the 2005 season, the Bulls got some of their young talent to gel and they made three straight playoff appearances. They were still unable to get over the hump to become a championship contender and instead remained just a lower seed playoff team. They missed the playoffs in 2008 and then went on to draft Derrick Rose with their lottery picks. After only two seasons, Rose looks like he is on his way to becoming one of the true young superstars in the NBA and has Chicago talking about possibilities of NBA Champions again in the future. I’m pretty confident he will top the list of best Chicago Bulls for the next decade, but for the meantime, the two seasons he has played plus the enormous amount of hope he has given the Bulls has helped him make an appearance on this list also. Here are the best five Chicago Bulls from 2001-2010. (Only accomplishments and stats while playing for the Chicago Bulls from 2000-2010 were considered.)
1. Ben Gordon
Gordon was with the Bulls for five seasons. With his tenure starting in the 2004-05 season, Gordon was sure to bring it. What exactly did Gordon bring? Points, and during a couple games quite a few of them. During the 2006-07 campaign, Gordon had two games of 40 or more points in a two week stretch, in which the 48 he dropped on the Knicks is his career high. In an odd occurrence, Gordon was name NBA Sixth Man of the Year for 2004-05, but failed to win the NBA Rookie of the Year Award, which went to Emeka Okafor.
2. Luol Deng
During his six seasons with the Bulls, Deng has consistently performed for well for them. Over that span he has averaged 15.8 points and 6.5 boards per contest. He has shown some signs over the past few seasons of making a leap from good solid starter to all-star, but has yet to cement himself there.
3. Kirk Hinrich
Kirk played seven seasons with the Chicago Bulls, improving season by season into he excelled in 2006-07, his fourth NBA season. In 2006-07, Hinrich managed to get 16.6 points and 6.3 assists per game. After lighting up teams in the playoffs the past two seasons for a tune of over 20 points, you would think that he stepped up even bigger there in the 2006-07 season. However, Hinrich struggled to find his game, and could only muster 12.1 points per contest. Unfortunately for Chicago fans, it was a sign of what Hinrich would become, a 10-12 point guy with 4-5 assists a game.
4. Derrick Rose – I made a rule with myself that a guy had to have put in at least three seasons to be considered to be in the top five players team for the 2000’s. Well, about that… Rules were made to be broken, right? What better player to break them with then Derrick Rose. Rose has only been with the Chicago Bulls for two seasons, but in that short time, he has been the leader of a team that no other team wants to match-up against in the playoffs. He won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award in 2009 and went on to become an All-Star in 2010. As long as Derrick Rose is with the Bulls, their future is bright.
5. Andres Nocioni
I’m not even sure how many casual NBA fans outside of Chicago have even heard of Andres Nocioni. Well, heard it and remember it at any rate. Nevertheless we must admit, these weren’t the Chicago Bulls of the Michael Jordan Era and pickings are slim for guys that made good contributions to the team in the 2000’s for longer than just a year or two. I was a tiny bit tempted to give Joakim Noah credit for future play, but the fact that he really only had one good season in the 2000’s made me pass on the idea. Nocioni wasn’t a bad player by any means; it’s just that he wasn’t ever great either. He couldn’t be depended upon to carry a team even for a couple game stretch, but he was solid. He played five seasons with the Bulls and went on to average 13 or more points a game in three of those seasons and helped supply an added three point threat to their offense.