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The 12 hottest questions (cont.)

Posted: Wednesday October 25, 2006 12:42PM; Updated: Wednesday October 25, 2006 2:20PM
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9. Will anyone score on the Bulls?

Ben Wallace
Ben Wallace
AP
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Yes -- but it won't be easy, especially after the league's top defense added the four-time Defensive Player of the Year, Ben Wallace.

"Pound for pound, game for game, play for play, possession for possession [the Bulls] are the hardest working team in the NBA," a scout says. "[Now] they have aligned a defensive-minded player with a defensive-minded coach on one of the most resilient teams in the league, which combines the No. 1 individual defender with the league's No. 1 field-goal percentage and two-point field-goal percentage allowed defense. It is like a pre-arranged marriage that should last a lifetime."

But is it the power couple GM John Paxson hopes it will become? Not without a little more firepower.

Chicago hasn't ranked higher than 22nd in field-goal shooting in three years. And consider this: "The Bulls were among the bottom five in the NBA for points in the paint, field-goal percentage inside five feet and percentage of total points from within five feet," adds the scout. "Chicago was a perimeter-based team that relied on outside shooting to make up for inside scoring. The Bulls also were 28th in percentage of points coming from the free throw line."

Now manning the middle will be Wallace, who has averaged fewer than seven points a game and shot 42 percent from the line over his career.

"Wallace might even be worse than [Tyson] Chandler," notes a front office insider. "They better hope Ben Gordon doesn't get hurt. He's a good player, but for a guy who's not a superstar, there's probably no team that relies on a player for more scoring than they do for him. It's probably even more critical this year. [Coach Scott] Skiles does have a creative playbook, but he doesn't have a lot to work with there."

With the league increasingly protecting offensive players by calling defensive play ever tighter, Chicago may regret not saving a little of the $60 million they spent to get Big Ben to add someone who can put the ball in the hoop, rather than keeping it out.

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