7. Chicago Bulls
In 2012-13 the Bulls had a 103.2 defensive rating (6th) and allowed 92.9 points per game (4th). Even though they had to play without their star point guard, Chicago’s defense kept them in games they had no reason to compete in.
In the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, the Bulls frustrated and stifled the Miami Heat offense for long stretches with physicality and unapologetic defense. And they did all this without Luol Deng, a former NBA All-Defensive Second Team member.
Joakim Noah, an All-Defensive Team member in 2012-13 played inspiring defense night-in and night-out. The physicality of his play wore on him throughout the season as he became noticeably slower due to either injury or fatigue.
Tom Thibodeau ingrained in his players the mindset of physical, all-out defense that is rarely seen anymore in the NBA. The Bulls are a team fueled by effort and have no excuses for poor-play.
With the return of Derrick Rose, the Bulls will instantly become contenders in the East. Rose’s ability to facilitate the offense will lighten the burden off of his teammates, allowing them to increase their contributions in other areas – like defense.
Chicago had a tough year but they should not be underestimated. They are as tough and physical as they come and will be a strong contender for best defensive team in 2013-14.