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Article Teaser: Finishing the 2006 season with more than 40 wins for the second year in a row, the Chicago Bulls knew they were still missing that certain something to shoot themselves through the ranks of NBA mediocrity. Something along the lines of the six foot nine, 240 pounds of grit, hustle, unshakable determination and power the likes of Ben Wallace to be exact.

Keep reading below...

Big Ben Guides Young Bulls

Copyright (c) 2007-2017

Finishing the 2006 season with more than 40 wins for the second year in a row, the Chicago Bulls knew they were still missing that certain something to shoot themselves through the ranks of NBA mediocrity. Something along the lines of the six foot nine, 240 pounds of grit, hustle, unshakable determination and power the likes of Ben Wallace to be exact.

It's not that they didn't believe they couldn't be successful with the plethora of young stars they have on their team such as Ben Gordon, Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich, they just felt they needed the icing on the cake to make the shift from young and promising to young and hungry.

Despite an awful 3-9 start to their season, through the first half of the 2007 season, Wallace has done just that and more, rebounding and blocking himself and his young team into playoff contention and giving an inexperienced locker room the confidence needed to succeed in the NBA. Not only is Wallace in the top ten in both rebounding and blocks this season, proving that at 32 years old, he's still one of the most dominant centers in the NBA, he has also brought over a winning attitude from Detroit and has had no problem transplanting it with his Chicago teammates.

It's gotten to the point where the Bulls organization can't stop raving about him and can't wait for the four-time defensive player of the year to really get comfortable in Chicago, so they get even more out of him.

"Ben is a unique player because he likes guarding people solo in the post," Bulls assistant coach Ron Adams told Sports Illustrated. "And he's very good against a lot of the standard post-up guys. ... Normally we're a fronting team. Ben plays behind and he's able to hold his own. Conversely, as he progresses in his career, we would like him to do more fronting, do more of the things we teach as a team only because it makes him more effective against a variety of different players."

The respect Wallace gets around the NBA from players and coaches alike have also given the younger Bulls a chance to thrive as well.

"For a guy his size, the number of blocked shots he gets is phenomenal," said Indiana Pacers Head Coach Rick Carlisle on the Bulls official website. "Pound for pound, he's the best defensive player I've ever seen in my life. You know he's going be there defensively and you know he's going be there on the boards. Some nights he comes up with a monster effort, and some nights his numbers are merely average. But as his career has gone on, his 'average' has become more and more dazzling."

Truth be told, while Wallace has easily been one of the best defensive players of the modern era, he hasn't been an amazing offensive player by any means. Despite that, Adams feels that he adds a very different dimension to the offense and is one of the reasons why players like Gordon and Deng are having All-Star caliber seasons.

"You're going to laugh, but [Ben]'s helped us offensively," Adams told Sports Illustrated. "We're a very good cutting team and a very good draw-and-kick team; his skills fit that. He's an excellent passer. And he's done a pretty good job of attacking the basket."

The reason why Wallace has been such a help on offense, as well as defense with the Bulls is that just the same way Larry Brown catered to Wallace occasionally on offense throughout the course of a game, Scott Skiles has managed to do the same, something that Pistons coach Flip Saunders never did.

"Larry figured out a way to keep Ben happy, and Flip did not do a good job of catering to him," an Eastern conference scout told Yahoo Sports. "Wallace is a proud guy, and once you lost him, you were never getting him back. But once Flip had lost him, him leaving became addition by subtraction. It couldn't go on like it was in Detroit."

Now with a fresh coaching staff and young, energized teammates showing their support, Big Ben is proving he's still one of the best defensive players in league and as a result, his young teammates are a force to be reckoned with.


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Patrick Hickey Jr. writes as a freelancer for BBall Central - NBA Message Boards - an NBA community http://www.BBallCentral.com

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