From NBA city to NBA city, ask opposing coaches how these Bulls are better than last season's vintage, and they talk about players having another year in coach Tom Thibodeau's system, about Derrick Rose being more dangerous after extending his range beyond the three-point arc and the experience the team gained before being eliminated by the Miami Heat last season.

Mostly, however, they sum up the difference in two words: Rip Hamilton.

"Rip Hamilton's addition has been pretty good, and I actually liked [Keith] Bogans," Nets coach Avery Johnson said before Hamilton had 22 points in the Bulls' victory Monday night. "But Rip can give them a little bit more offensive production at the two-guard spot, especially running one or two of the same sets that they ran in Detroit that he's very familiar with with him running off screens. And experience. Another year of maturation and guys just growing up a little bit more, especially in terms of different situations on the court. But more than anything Rip Hamilton."