A look into the Chicago Bulls offseason moves, and how their season may unfold.
I remember watching the younger version of this current Bulls team going toe to toe with the original Boston Big Three in 2009 – there was rookie Derrick Rose flat out destroying them.
He blew past double teams, kicked it out when they clogged the lane, and finished with authority when he got to the hoop – there was nothing all world defender Rajon Rondo or Doc Rivers could do.
And now he’s out, likely for a very long time. With Rose relying on his speed and athleticism so much, it will be a tough ask to expect him to come back at all this season.
Knee injuries have cost star players seasons as well as careers – Kevin Johnson, Penny Hardaway, Amare Stoudemire, Greg Oden, Blake Griffin – the list goes on.
Let’s hope he bounces back and resumes what has already been a stellar career, capped off by his MVP season two years ago.
So much the Bulls do revolves around Rose and his creativity; replacing him would be impossible in all likelihood, so the Bulls have gone for a patchwork job and created a platoon at point guard.
Former defensive whiz and cult favourite Captain Kirk Hinrich returns to steady the ship, joined by the now well travelled Nate Robinson, who has more uniforms to his name than he does feet to his height.
Six teams in seven years, not exactly the best endorsement for a free agent, but what he does do is score in bunches and bring a spark off the bench.
Robinson's speed and athleticism wrapped up in a neat 5'9" package means he often gets overlooked (pun slightly intended) by opposing defences, but in the 11 games he played at least 30mins in last year, he put up 18.3 pts, 2.9 reb, 6.4 ast and 2.0 steals per contest - very good numbers for a 6th man.
Shooting guard always seems to be a hole for the Bulls, whether they plug it with a journeyman (ie Keith Bogans, Ronnie Brewer), or a veteran like current starter Rip Hamilton, there's a seemingly always revolving door that never gets filled or is just overlooked by the front office.
There were plenty of free agent shooting guards on the market or players available through trade, but for whatever reason the Bulls stuck with what they had, even letting Ronnie Brewer walk to the Knicks.
Hamilton will be asked to shoulder some of the scoring load, as well as create some shots while Rose is out - not ideal for an aging player known more for his skill for running off screens and cutting to the hoop.
Carlos Boozer will be relied upon to score and rebound, but unfortunately his points, rebound, assist and free throw percentages have all dropped three consecutive seasons.
He will be asked to handle more of the load both in terms of scoring and creating, as will Luol Deng who increased his outside game but to the detriment of his overall numbers as he shot just 41.2% from the floor, a career low.
The product of Duke via Wow (can’t make this up) in Sudan, suited up for Great Britain and found himself at the center of their offensive schemes, something he better get used to.
If there’s anything you can take from Tom Thibodeau’s Bulls teams it’s that will play hard and they defend like their paycheck rides on it, after all he is a disciple of Jeff Van Gundy.
Thibodeau will need to adjust to life without Rose, as well as backup big man Omer Asik who was gift wrapped a $25m deal over three years by the Houston Rockets, which all points toward classic blue chipper Taj Gibson having to handle a higher workload.
Along with Asik and Joakim Noah, Gibson provided one of the best PF/C defensive combos in the league, yet he still finds himself behind Boozer in the depth charts.
Noah is another player who contributes more than his numbers suggest, as a classic defensive post player. Unfortunately for viewers of Bulls game footage, his ugly hair is only surpassed by his horrendous jumpshot form, which rivals Shawn Marion, Chuck Hayes and Josh Childress as the worst going round.
I predict the Bulls will try and keep a patchwork team running until Rose is ready to rumble, whether that plays out to what they’re expecting is anyone’s guess.
Is the team going to hover around .500 ball for the first few months, then Rose comes back and gets them to a four or five seed?Or are they going to be below the playoff line just long enough for the Bulls to tell Rose to stay at home and rest up til next season?
I’m more inclined to believe in Rose’s ability to play through pain, not to mention their core remains intact - the same core that went 18-9 without Rose last season.
The pride Rose has as a local Bulls icon in the making cannot be measured, so put me down for them making the playoffs this season – just.
Projected record: 44-38, 2nd Central Division
Photo Credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images