Although Rose individually provides Chi-Town with enough hope, there are still some external factors that will also prove to be pivotal.
Let's take a look at what some of these other elements are.
Reigning Coach of the Year Tom Thibodeau has done an amazing job since taking over Chicago last season.
In his first year at the helm, Thibodeau tied the record for most wins by a rookie head coach with 62. And although he won’t be able to match that total this year, he has the Bulls in a position to do more than return to the Conference Finals (more on this later).
If his 21 years of NBA-coaching experience don’t say enough, his vocal personality certainly will.
This is critical to the team’s success as it alleviates pressure off Rose and allows the point guard to be a silent leader.
Despite the fact that Thibodeau qualifies as a leader in every sense, it is his defensive specialties that will continue to keep the franchise competitive.
During his NBA tenure, Coach Thibs has helped 15 teams to a top-10 ranked defense.
If someone mentions Thibodeau, then they have to mention defense as well.
If the saying “defense wins championships” wants any validation, look no further than this Bulls team.
Not only do they allow the second-fewest points in the league (88.9 per game), but also rebound at the highest clip as well (45.9).
Their domination in both of these areas has a direct correlation with their coach and his set of standards.
Although Chicago doesn't overwhelm anyone with size, they swarm and help each other with tremendous effort.
If the team continues to play with this nightly energy and passion, it will be extremely difficult to beat them in a best-of-seven series.
It will be of the utmost importance that the Bulls do whatever they can to help themselves during their playoff run.
Even with their top-notch defense, the Bulls only force an average of 13.57 turnovers per game (26th in the league); however, they counteract that by averaging the fourth fewest giveaways.
This proves that the Bulls are not only playing concerted defense, but also smart offense.
By valuing each possession like it’s their last, the Bulls are able to score 98.1 points per game (seventh), while dishing out 23.5 assists (second)—making them one of the NBA’s most efficient offensive units.
Although Rose is the engine that sets the Bulls’ offense in motion, Chicago does have many other components.
For a team that is unselfish with the ball, it is no surprise to hear that nine players average at least seven points per game.
It’s true that there are times where the offense seems stagnant without Rose, but no team is immune to dry spells.
Out of Chicago’s 35 victories, Rose has been the high scorer in a dozen contests, while power forward Carlos Boozer has been the scoring leader nine times.
This means that even if teams are able to contain the reigning MVP, he has teammates who are capable of shouldering the scoring load.
In a condensed 66-game NBA regular season, the value of your bench players cannot be overlooked.
Only four players—including one starter, have been able to play in all of Chicago’s 44 games.
So far, the Bulls have been able to battle adversity and injury with depth.
Shoulder and leg injuries to Richard Hamilton have limited him to only 16 games all season; however, this has allowed Thibodeau to extend extra minutes to Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver.
As a defensive specialist, Brewer offers the team a skill set that differs from Korver, who is a three-point shooting expert. This provides Chicago with a distinct advantage in late-game situations—allowing them to substitute offense for defense when necessary.
I’ve mentioned a few ways that the team will help Rose remain competitive in his quest for NBA championships, but this is something that falls on his own shoulders.
Since entering the league, Rose has possessed the league’s deadliest spin-move and still continuously utilizes it on drives to the basket.
In his first two seasons, Rose was essentially a non-scoring threat from beyond the free-throw line. He was a below-average jump shooter and attempted less than one three-pointer per game.
The arrival of Thibodeau coincided with Rose’s blossoming outside game.
In his last two years, Rose has made more than five times the number of three-point field goals than he did in his rookie and sophomore years.
The expansion of his offensive repertoire will aid him tremendously—as this will deter defenses from clogging the paint and force perimeter defenders to chase him over the top of screens, which would provide Rose an easier path to the basket.
I’m just going to assume that Rose and LeBron James share the common goal of winning “not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven.” NBA championships.
But in order for talk to become walk, the Bulls will have to continuously improve.
Gasol is an All-World talent and offers a unique skill set that not many other 7" players have.
Even if the Bulls are unable to attain Gasol before the trade deadline, Rose and other general managers should take notice of Chicago’s aggression.
It’s one thing for a player to seek improvement, but it means a whole lot more when management feels the same way.
Long-time contenders Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs and Boston Celtics are all franchises that have superstars in the twilight of their careers, while the up-and-comers such as the Los Angeles Clippers, New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers and Indiana Pacers all have some pressing issues of their own to face.
An inevitable drop off in proven competition combined with the unpredictability of younger franchises opens the door for the top three teams to make deep playoff runs that extend beyond the immediate future.
Even though the Bulls are led by a fourth-year point guard, they don’t lack in playoff experience or continuity.
This current team returns 11 players from a roster that made it all the way to last year’s Conference Finals.
With an extra year together, the Bulls are primed to overcome their previous shortcomings against a Heat team with four new rotational players.
If these nine reasons weren’t enough to convince you of the Bulls' chances, maybe this last one will drive the point home.
Chicago is home to one of the nation’s most undying fan bases.
Their supporters are loud, passionate and passionate about being loud.
With their league-best 35-9 record, the Bulls are on track to enjoy home-field advantage for every round of the playoffs for the second straight season. Last year’s five-game elimination will not only provide the team with experience, but also double as extra motivation for the Chi-Town crowd.
The United Center is a hostile environment and difficult place for opponents to win. At 17-3, the Bulls have one of the top home records and would possess the greatest advantage for any series that reached Game 7.