6 Worst Case Scenarios for the Chicago Bulls' Season

Bob Bajek@bobbajekAnalyst IIIJanuary 27, 2012

6 Worst Case Scenarios for the Chicago Bulls' Season

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    The Chicago Bulls are rolling right now, hopefully to an NBA championship season.

    They have the NBA's second best record and are currently the Eastern Conference's top seed.

    With so much riding on the Bulls to succeed, what would be some of the worst case scenarios that would hurt their season?

    Read on to find out.

Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah Regress

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    Chicago Bulls' power forward Carlos Boozer and center Joakim Noah have been playing better of late since mid-January.

    The two frontcourt starters seem to have finally gotten in sync and are a big reason the Bulls were 4-1 when superstar Derrick Rose was sidelined with turf toe.

    However, all of last year and the beginning of this season, Boozer and Noah did not play well together. 

    Part of the problem was both Noah and Boozer are effective playing in the low post, but Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has Noah mostly on the perimeter. That got Noah out of sync.

    For this year, Boozer was not being aggressive around the rim and is not scoring. Noah couldn't grab any rebounds and was frequently in foul trouble.

    Noah and Boozer playing effectively is needed if the Bulls are to be successful in the postseason. A return to their previous ineffective play will result in disastrous prospects.

Chicago Bulls Don't Get Reliable 5th Big Man

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    The Chicago Bulls have a great frontcourt with Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Omer Asik.

    However, if either of the Bulls' big men get injured or in foul trouble, glorified benchwarmer Brian Scalabrine is ready for the call.

    Excuse my cringing.

    If Wednesday's 95-90 loss to the Indiana Pacers doesn't prove to the Bulls they need another big man, I don't know what would.

    Gibson was hobbled with an ankle injury and Scalabrine tried to answer the call. For some reason Scalabrine was on the floor with the game on the line and missed a crucial three-point shot.

    Not only that, but the "White Mamba" comically tried getting back on defense after the play, fell down and allowed Pacers shooting guard Paul George to easily feed center Roy Hibbert with a game-clinching dunk.

    Scalabrine does not have the talent to play in game-deciding situations. He really shouldn't be on an NBA roster. However, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has significant faith in Scalabrine and even elects playing him over rookie swingman Jimmy Butler.

    Failing to get a reliable backup big could spell doom to the Bulls' championship aspirations.

Luol Deng's Injury Gets Reaggravated

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    The Chicago Bulls are without starting small forward Luol Deng as he has a torn ligament in his left wrist following the 95-89 win over the Charlotte Bobcats.

    Deng has been rumored to be back within a week, but what if it takes the South Sudanese baller longer to heal?

    A torn ligament causes significant pain affecting his ball handling and driving abilities. While Deng and Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau have stated this is a pain tolerance issue, a less than 100 percent Deng would greatly reduce the Bulls' chances of winning an NBA championship.

    If Deng misses significant time to heal properly, the Bulls might lose the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, but would be good for the playoffs.

    If Deng comes back too soon and reaggravates his injury, the Duke product would probably require surgery and miss the playoffs.

    One can see the Miami Heat salivating at the thought of the facing the Bulls sans Deng in the conference finals.

Rookie Jimmy Butler Doesn't Get Significant Playing Time

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    The Chicago Bulls have a solid rookie in swingman Jimmy Butler, but the Marquette product has barely seen the floor so far this year.

    Butler had a great college career on both sides of the ball. Whenever Butler plays in garbage minutes, he has produced by making shots and providing stellar defense.

    The unfortunate aspect is Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau for some reason doesn't feel comfortable with Butler on the hardwood and elects to play perpetual scrub Brian Scalabrine and average defender Kyle Korver over him even when Luol Deng is injured.

    Butler can be an asset for this team, but if Thibodeau doesn't get him game time experience, he will not be well prepared for the playoffs.

Superstar Derrick Rose Loses His Explosiveness

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    The Chicago Bulls will only go as far as NBA MVP Derrick Rose will take them.

    The superstar point guard can score, defend and pass while providing dynamic leadership and energy to the Bulls.

    Right now, Rose is suffering with turf toe on his left big toe and has missed five games this month trying to rest up. 

    Rose said that he hasn't moved his left big toe in three years and he has to play with it.

    A huge part of Rose's special game is his fearless and effective driving. Having a healthy toe is essential in anchoring his foot to properly jump and get the lift he's used to.

    Without a stable toe, Rose might struggle with pushing off and his hoops might lose altitude. Also, he might not be able to burn passed defenders with his crossover.

    Rose lacking explosiveness will cut out a huge portion of his game as his driving opens up the passing games and gets his teammates open.

    A less than healthy Rose would result in another failed playoff exit.

Chicago Bulls Lose in First 2 Rounds

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    The Chicago Bulls are the NBA's top team. Period.

    Their roster has more depth than the Miami Heat's while also having more experience than the young Oklahoma City Thunder.

    With the Eastern Conference really weak and the Heat struggling with Dwyane Wade's injury, it looks as if the Bulls will walk through the playoffs until the NBA Finals.

    But what if the Bulls lose either in the first or second round of the playoffs?

    That would make this season an utter failure.

    The Bulls would face Milwaukee Bucks in the first round  and either the Philadelphia 76ers or Atlanta Hawks if the playoffs started today.

    These are teams the Bulls should beat, though, if Chicago doesn't bring their A game, these hungry teams could steal a series away.

    As the Bulls are a title contender, an early playoff exit would raise questions of whether the team's players and coaches are equipped to win a title.


    Bob Bajek is a featured columnist for the Chicago Bulls. He is also a freelance reporter and can be followed on Patch.com and Twitter.