Joakim Noah and the 4 Players Who Must Improve

Brian LendinoCorrespondent IIJanuary 23, 2012

Joakim Noah and the 4 Players Who Must Improve

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    The Chicago Bulls are off to an NBA-best 15-3 record and currently sit atop ESPN's Marc Stein's NBA Power Rankings. 

    However, there is always room for improvement. 

    That's what made Michael Jordan so great. He was the best player of his time and he knew that, but he was never satisfied. 

    The Bulls look good, and they're doing it with a myriad of injuries, but there are players that aren't playing to their potential through the first quarter of the season. 

    Here are four Bulls players that need to step their game up and help their team win an NBA title. 

Derrick Rose

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    I can just see it now. You're behind your computer, shaking your head vigorously, possibly whispering expletives about how I can possibly say the reigning MVP needs to improve.

    I'm the biggest Derrick Rose fan on the planet; it's documented, but he hasn't been the same this year.

    And yes, it's because of the injury.

    On the season, Rose is averaging 20.8 points per game, 8.7 assists per game and 3.5 rebounds per game.

    That stat line is great, and I'm certain most of Chicago is thrilled to see him transition to more of a facilitator and away from pure scorer.

    I'm not begging Derrick to improve on the court; he's fine in that regard. I'm simply on hands and knees begging his toe to heal up so we can get our MVP back on a nightly basis.

    Darn toe! 

Kyle Korver

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    Kyle Korver was brought into Chicago to be the No. 3 shooting guard and make big shots off the bench. 

    Last year, Korver didn't make such shots, and this season, he hasn't had any opportunity to do that, but he's currently averaging 6.6 points per game in about 20 minutes per play. 

    However, Korver has the second lowest Player Efficiency Rating of any player on the Bulls at 12.9, and every time you watch him play, he seems like a defensive liability. 

    Not to mention he's usually good for about three fouls per game, most of them coming in unnecessary scenarios. 

    Korver is needed for one reason and one reason only. It would be nice to see him thrive in those scenarios on a more consistent basis.

Joakim Noah

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    Joakim Noah has been miserable thus far in the 2012 season, and when I say miserable, I mean a consistent, throbbing headache. 

    Something has been off with Joakim this season. It seems like he's just lost his edge. 

    We're all used to the hustle-first, energy laden player who uses his effort to compensate for his lack of talent, but we really haven't seen that this season either. 

    Through 17 games this season, Noah's numbers are down significantly—his points are down from 11.7 to 7.2 per game, and even his rebounds are down from 10.4 to only 8.3 per game. 

    The most troubling part may be his lack of minutes in the fourth quarter and Tom Thibodeau's tendency to lean on Omer Asik in the closing minutes of games. 

    Joakim is a competitor, and he'll figure it out. I just hope he does so soon. 

Carlos Boozer

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    The Chicago Bulls spent a pretty penny on bringing in Carlos Boozer as a free agent in 2010, and I'm not so sure that Bulls fans have seen their investment fully bloom yet. 

    That said, Carlos is certainly capable of being a No. 3 scorer, but nothing more. 

    He's played in all 18 games this season, but it wasn't until a few games ago against Phoenix that Carlos starting finding his groove. 

    He's put up 31 and 23 points in two of his last three games, but he still has a long way to go.

    As Luol Deng gets more acclimated to being a bonafide No. 2 scorer in the Bulls offense and Boozer becomes more comfortable playing alongside the aforementioned Noah, Carlos will start to reach his full potential in the offense. 

    No one on the Bulls is more scrutinized than Carlos Boozer, but I think he's starting to accept it more and use the criticisms as motivation to become better.