Chicago Bulls: Can Derrick Rose and Luol Deng Survive Heavy Workload

Michael Gibbons@DachicagofanCorrespondent IIJanuary 13, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 12:  Derrick Rose #1 and Luol Deng #9 of the Chicago Bulls against the Atlanta Hawks in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Phillips Arena on May 12, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Coach Tom Thibodeau is a very serious guy. He treats every practice and every game like a championship is on the line.

Sometimes, that's a great thing, but so far during this young season, it's starting to raise a red flag.

Derrick Rose and Luol Deng are playing way too many minutes night in and night out.

Deng is averaging over 39 minutes a game including his 43-minute performance Friday against the Celtics. In 13 games so far this season, he has failed to play 35 minutes three times but was close playing 32, 30 and 34. All three of those games were blowouts. Over the last three games, Deng is averaging over 43 minutes a night.

While Rose isn't playing as many minutes as Deng, he's pretty close. On the season, he's averaging over 36 minutes a night. However, since C.J. Watson has been hurt, Rose has played nearly 38 minutes a night. Rose has failed to top the 35-minute mark four times playing 32, 28, 26 and 33. That 32-minute night was against the Kings, which saw Rose in foul trouble that limited his minutes.

The biggest concern with both of these guys playing such heavy minutes in this condensed schedule is can they hold up?

Rose missed Wednesday's game with turf toe and has proved to be pretty durable so far in his career. It was only his seventh missed game in now four seasons of playing.

Deng on the other hand has serious red flags when it comes to health.

While it's impressive that he played all 82 games last season, while averaging 39 minutes a night, it was only the second time in his career he played in all 82 games.

It has been pretty rare seeing Butler on the court
It has been pretty rare seeing Butler on the courtJonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Over the course of his career, he has missed 89 games, which is about 11 per season. 

We saw how ugly this team plays without Rose, but can you imagine how bad it would be without Deng in the lineup as well?

This group has shown it can overcome injuries to Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah and now Rip Hamilton, but a serious injury to Rose or Deng might be too much.

Having an 11-2 record is great, but if Rose and Deng aren't rested and healthy come playoff time, it will mean nothing.

Now some of the minutes for both may decrease once Hamilton and Watson return but probably not.

Besides the game against Washington on Wednesday coach Thibodeau has only rested John Lucas for a few minutes a night, and with Hamilton out, it leaves only Kyle Korver as the primary backup at SG and SF. 

A nice solution would be to give rookie Jimmy Butler some time, but he seems regulated to garbage time along with Brian Scalabrine.

Once the Bulls complete the month of January, they will have played 23 games leaving 43 games over the next 86 days. So the rest of the schedule will be very much like a regular NBA season.

Over the next 10 games, they have three sets of back to backs, and they must find a way to give Rose and Deng a rest. While the schedule is still condensed, the opponents should help the Bulls out.

Besides the Heat and Pacers, the other eight teams on the schedule all have losing records.

So it's imperative that Thibodeau finds a way to rest his main two guys over this next stretch of games.

Or else, we might be seeing a few more games like the one against the Wizards, which I know, I sure don't want to see.