The Chicago Bulls may be the deepest team in the league. Obviously, the Bulls aren’t without their weak spots—they just have extra people to pick up the slack when needed.
It’s almost scary how quickly people have started to talk about how the Bulls need to disband in order to preserve it in Derrick Rose’s absence. It’s a ridiculous idea of course, especially since the teams depth was the reason that the Bulls were the top seed going into the playoffs this year.
Yes, I like the sound of acquiring Howard, or trading up in the draft to gain a lottery pick—I just don’t want to see who the Bulls would lose in order to do that.
There are players that wouldn’t devastate the franchise if they left. Ronnie Brewer is an offensive liability. He’s a great player for the Bulls, and he plays Tom Thibodeau’s system to perfection; unfortunately, he doesn’t offer much other than hustle and defense.
Another guy that wouldn’t upset the Bulls fan base much by his departure is Carlos Boozer. Boozer is a great power forward in the regular season, but he needs to deliver in the playoffs, and he didn’t.
So with all of this said, I’ll now list the players that the Bulls can’t afford to lose.
This should come as no surprise. Derrick Rose is the foundation of the Bulls. He possesses both athleticism and leadership.
The Bulls are going to have to win without Rose. It’s definitely possible, but I don’t think anybody is betting on the Bulls to go far in the playoffs without Rose.
It goes without saying, Chi-Town will need its star to win the championship. Losing him isn’t going to happen anytime in the near future.
I get that Luol Deng is the Chicago Bulls most valuable bargaining chip. There’s a reason for that. Luol Deng is an extremely valuable player.
Over the course of the 2011-12 season Deng played most of the way with a torn ligament in his wrist. While it was impressive how well he played while injured, what stuck in my mind was how badly the Bulls played without him, even with Derrick Rose on the court.
After tearing the ligament in his wrist, Deng missed seven consecutive games. In that stretch, the Bulls won just four games and they couldn’t even win two games in a row.
I’m not going to say that Luol Deng is better than Derrick Rose, but the team does tremendously better with Deng on the court.
There are plenty of reasons for that, the most important being that Luol Deng is essentially the prototypical Bull.
For one, he’s an absolute monster on defense and is one of the few players in the NBA that can slow LeBron down. He also grabs plenty of rebounds. In the 2012 playoffs he averaged 8.3 boards per game.
Without Luol Deng, the team looks sloppy. That’s the effect of losing the team veteran and leader.
Taj Gibson is one of the most talented bench players in the NBA, especially since he’s a big man.
When Joakim Noah went down with an ankle injury in the playoffs and Carlos Boozer proved once again how useless he is in the playoffs, Taj Gibson stepped up and almost willed the team to come back and win.
The Chicago Bulls have possibly the best bench in the league, and it’s largely due to Gibson. He’s the bench leader, and if he were to be placed as a starter, he wouldn’t disappoint there either.
Unfortunately, other teams in the NBA see the talent that Gibson is capable of. He’s one of the best trading pieces that the Bulls own. Losing Gibson would be idiotic on the part of the Bulls since he could easily start on most NBA teams.
There’s no telling how good Taj Gibson really is because he really hasn’t had his chance to come into his own. He’s not a polished player on offense (yet), but he’s a much more consistent player than Carlos Boozer.
He showed this year in the playoffs that he can show up big when needed.
With all of the talk of the Bulls acquiring a new big man, Joakim Noah remains one of the most underrated players in the NBA today.
Seriously, this guy hustles his butt off. It can’t be easy for him, having to listen to all of the rumors and pressure for the Bulls to upgrade the center position. And in my opinion, the Bulls really couldn’t do much better than him.
Similar to Luol Deng, Noah is a “prototypical Bull.”
In truth, I see the point that “anti-Noah" supporters bring to the table. He lacks on offense—at least in the scoring department.
Other than defense and rebounds, what makes him so valuable to the Bulls is his hustle and passing abilities.
Out of all the centers in the NBA, Joakim Noah ranks sixth in assists. That doesn’t include all of his “hockey assists,” or even just his spot-on passes. The 9.8 rebounds per game that he averages doesn’t reflect how many big men he boxes out, or how much he hustles to make sure that his team ends up with the ball.
Oh, and his gunslinger impression is awesome.
The Chicago Bulls don’t need to blow up the roster, or even shake up the free-agent market this offseason. The team is solid enough to hold their own until Rose returns, and when Rose does return, the team will be ready.