NBA Playoffs: Predicted Runs for Bulls and Teams Currently Without Their Star
Four teams in the NBA are currently without their big-name stars with the playoffs approaching. Thinking about how those teams would do with and without their respective superstars is an interesting thought.
Although the Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks are all expected to have their star players back in the lineup before the playoffs begin next week, the Orlando Magic might gave to play in the postseason without their superstar.
Here are the playoff runs I think each of the four teams could make with and without their currently injured superstars in the playoffs.
Amar'e Stoudemire, New York Knicks
The New York Knicks' Amar'e Stoudemire has been nursing an injured back since March 26, missing a total of 12 games thus far.
Stoudemire was averaging 17.6 points and eight rebounds per game before his injury, but the Knicks have found a way to make up for his numbers.
Carmelo Anthony has stepped up his game and averaged 30.4 points and 7.8 rebounds per contest since Stoudemire went down, up from his 22.4 point and 6.3 rebound average this season.
Scheduled to return as early as this Friday against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Stoudemire would have four games or less to get back into playing shape before the playoffs start, making his chemistry with the team a major issue.
At this point in the season, Stoudemire looks to have the least amount of impact on his team heading into the playoffs.
Knicks' likely playoff scenario without Stoudemire: Round 2 exit
Knicks' likely playoff scenario with Stoudemire: Round 2 exit
Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
Kobe Bryant has missed the last seven games with an inflamed shin, but has played pretty decently without the NBA superstar.
The Lakers have gone 5-2 in Bryant's absence, including splitting a pair of games with the Western Conference-leading San Antonio Spurs.
Kobe has put up great numbers this season, averaging 28.1 points, 4.6 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game this season. The obvious need the Lakers need to fill is the scoring void left when Bryant is out.
Three Lakers have stepped their scoring up as Bryant has been on the sidelines. They are Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and the biggest jump in scoring is Metta World Peace.
Bynum has upped his average from 18.7 PPG to 23.1, Gasol has seen his PPG average go from 17.4 to 21.1 and World Peace has seen a huge jump from a dismal 7.4 PPG to 16.2 PPG.
Of those three, World Peace is the least reliable as far as being able to count on the continued numbers boost during postseason play.
Kobe has said he wants to return before the playoffs start, which would be a good thing for the Lakers, as getting the team running fluidly with Bryant back in will be crucial to LA's playoff run.
Lakers' likely playoff scenario without Kobe: A first-round loss
Lakers' likely playoff scenario with Kobe: Loss in Western Conference Final
Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
After a year filled with controversy for the 26-year-old Dwight Howard, his season took another bad hit when he injured his back, which may cause the superstar center to miss the entire playoffs.
Howard has missed seven of the last 10 games including six in a row, and the Magic have struggled more than any of the three other superstar missing teams on this list going 3-5 in the last eight games Howard has missed.
Being one of the two true center stars in the league, Howard is tough to replace, and the Magic will find it almost impossible to fill the big man's void.
Howard has averaged 20.6 points, 14.5 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game this season, and Glen Davis is the Magic's only hope to pick up the slack for any time Howard might miss in the postseason.
Davis has upped his season average of 8.9 points and 5.4 rebounds to 15.6 points and 7.6 rebounds per contest in Howard's absence, but hasn't been close to the presence Howard is all around.
Magic's likely playoff scenario without Howard: First-round sweep
Magic's likely playoff scenario with Howard: Second-round loss
Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls
The Chicago Bulls would have the most to lose if their superstar player, Derrick Rose, was not able to make it back for the playoffs.
Although the Bulls have faired well this season without Rose in the lineup, the playoff's are a whole different game, and Chicago would not have the success they had in the regular season without Rose in postseason play.
Rose has missed 14 of the last 17 games, but the Bulls have managed to pull off a record of 11-6 in those games.
Rose is averaging 22.5 points, 7.9 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game, and the Bulls have had a few players step up in Rose's absence to win them games.
C.J. Watson and John Lucas have had their moments in Rose's absence, but they have not had much change on their season averages as their moments are not consistent enough.
Rose will be needed to get the Bulls to where they want to go in the playoffs this year, which is NBA Finals or bust.
Bulls' likely playoff scenario without Rose: Loss in second round
Bulls' likely playoff scenario with Rose: NBA Finals