A lot of skepticism grew after the Bulls created their roster for the 2016-2017 season. The biggest points of criticism were centered around the fact that the recruitment made little sense, for several reasons. First of all, it seemed like the Bulls just focused on recruiting "names" more than pieces to a particular style of play. Indeed, Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo were the two main acquisitions of the summer for Chicago and their very signings made little sense when you looked at the Bulls roster after it was finalized. Both of these players lack a consistent three-point shot and the spacing in the Bulls offense was put to trial by experts saying that adding two pieces with this style of play to this roster was destined for failure in an era where the NBA is dominated by the three-point shot.

Rondo and Wade are also veterans, respectively 30 and 34 years old, and they seemed to be slowing down in the last years. But after the 24 first games of the season, we see that the dynamic of the Bulls is different from what we expected, and their success can be explained by a few things.

The importance of leadership and experience

All these "cons" of recruiting Rondo and Wade have their value, but one important fact was dismissed too fast when analyzing their arrival to Chicago: they are both incredible leaders. In today's NBA, so many point guards are very offensively talented (Westbrook, Curry, Lillard, Irving amongst others) and tend to concentrate on scoring more than on passing, that a player like Rondo has become a rarity in the league.

His game focuses, and has always focused, on being the true point guard of his team by creating for others, and leading the offense with timely passes and strict directions to run systems. Rondo was an all-star, an NBA champion and ranks 12th all time in triple doubles. He keeps his team involved and even tough some skills, like shooting, are lacking in his game, he brings other things to the court that make him very valuable.

The second and main signing of the summer was of course, three-time NBA champion, 2006 NBA Finals MVP, Olympic gold medalist, 12-time All-Star and future Hall of Famer, Dwyane Wade. Wade is definitely one of the best players of the last 20 years and his addition to the Bulls brought them leadership as well as a steady hand through pressure.

He indeed is not afraid to take the big shots and likes to have the ball in his hands when things get tough. Wade was always a player that was able and willing to become a "second option" as he has shown with LeBron James in Miami, and he now clearly decided to leave the keys to the house to the rising star Jimmy Butler.

The Bulls start to look like contenders

By being able to fit into the team hierarchy and helping to define it from the very beginning of the season, Wade and Rondo created comfort for their teammates and inspired trust by putting the team first. Wade is actually scoring nearly 1 point per game more than his last season in Miami (19.9 pts/game vs 19.0) while letting Butler be the team's best scorer (with 25.7 pts/game).

While Rondo's stats are down and some injuries keep occurring he still is a very versatile player. Moreover, even when he does not play, his voice is heard from the bench or in the locker room. The Bulls now stand at 13-11 and are ranked 4th in the Eastern Conference while most predictions before the season saw them not even making it to the Playoffs. With two "closers" on the team that are able to create their own shot and get points in a hurry in key moments with Wade and Butler, Chicago has assets that many other teams do not have and are often able to pull away in the "money time." Jimmy Butler keeps on rising and is having an incredible year (25.7pts, 6.8 rbds, 4.2 assists and 1.8 steals per game) and with two other real leaders by his side, he can keep the Bulls focused on their goal of reaching the Playoffs. And if these guys are still playing by the end of April, opponents better watch out.