Bulls center Joakim Noah, right, says he and his teammates are jelling. "We're having a great time together," he said.
Some teams look good on paper. The Bulls sound as though things are shaping up for a strong season.
Since training camp began, players have been emphasizing how well they've gotten along. No doubt, the locker room is louder and livelier than it's been in the past. Excessive laughter could be heard in the hallways even after a mundane Monday practice at the Berto Center.
"The practices are fun," Joakim Noah said. "We're having a great time together."
Maybe that's a good sign. The Detroit Pistons, which played for the conference championship six straight years from 2003-08, are probably the best recent example of a team that got along well and carried a strong chemistry onto the court.
Veteran guard Lindsey Hunter played on championship teams with the Pistons and Lakers. He's seen what works and gave the current Bulls a strong review.
"It's like family and that's how you want it," Hunter said. "It's hard to get that, too, by the way. It's really hard to get.
"It takes time to develop that and you have to put the right personalities in place where egos won't come into play and if anybody has one, you have enough guys to put him in line. I think we really have the makings of having that special type of chemistry."
In some ways, the Bulls might have an ideal cast of characters - respected regulars who can set the tone, wiser veterans to dispense advice and rookies who will push teammates for playing time.
Management seems to have made an effort to add more outgoing personalities to the mix, such as Hunter and Jannero Pargo.
At the same time, these Bulls haven't accomplished much on the court besides losing one of the most entertaining playoff series in NBA history. It's possible all the talk about positive chemistry could be false comfort.
"We've got a good group of guys and we get along pretty well," said guard Kirk Hinrich, who is beginning his seventh season with the Bulls. "Everybody's kind of trying to use that as a reason why we're going to have a much better year this year.
"But the bottom line is we have to take that onto the court. That's kind of what we've been working on, offensively and defensively, having the chemistry out there where we can be one of the better teams. We don't have an all-star or anything like that. We have to do it as a group and it takes a specific type of effort."
The Bulls will get a chance to work on their on-court chemistry with three preseason games in the next four nights. They'll host Milwaukee tonight for the preseason home opener, visit Minnesota on Wednesday and face the Timberwolves again Friday at the United Center.
"Right now, obviously I feel like we have a ways to go," Hinrich said. "Every day we come in here and we're trying to make another step or two toward being ready for the first game of the year."