The Miami Heat wiped some sweat from their collective brow on the morning of April 29.
The previous night Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose tore his ACL in the opening game of the playoffs against the 76ers. Now, no player or team likes to see an opponent get hurt, but the Bulls were suddenly a lot less scary without Rose.
If Derrick Rose hadn’t gotten injured against the Sixers in Game 1, it is probable that it would be Chicago representing the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals and not Miami. Yes, that is purely speculation, but Rose is that kind of difference maker. He won the league MVP last season, and despite missing 27 of his team’s 66 games, Rose looked to be in full form before he went down with the knee injury.
The Bulls clearly were not the same team without Rose on the court. A starting five of Luol Deng, Richard Hamilton, Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer and C.J. Watson is decent, but it’s certainly not championship caliber.
When Rose comes back next season, the Bulls will dominate. They will return to their rightful place as a top team in the East and will most certainly not lose in the first round of the playoffs.
Without Derrick Rose the Bulls went from the team with the best overall record in the league to a team that lost to the 76ers, a team that’s not even sure who its best player is, in six games.
Rose is a difference maker. Despite playing in only 39 games this season, he averaged 21.8 points and 7.9 rebounds per game.
Clearly, Rose was even playing at his highest level all season. He was good enough to know that he needed to rest his injuries and save his juice for the playoffs. In Game 1 against Philly, before he got hurt, Rose had 23 points, nine rebounds and nine assists.
When healthy, Rose is a top three point guard in the league and a guy that takes the Bulls from the Olive Garden to the Garden of Eden in terms of ability as a team.
Keep in mind, however, that it is highly unlikely that Rose will begin the season ready to play. And when I say highly unlikely, I mean that there is literally no chance. There is a better chance that Kim Kardashian will be awarded an honorary doctorate from Harvard next year.
Rose is expected to miss eight to 12 months and could even miss the whole season. According to K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune, Bulls GM Gar Forman said Rose is making “tremendous progress” is rehabbing his knee. This is great news for Bulls fans. Rose is young and healthy and could potentially come back hardly missing a step.
Still, knees aren’t something to play around with if you are an NBA player. Despite the instant gratification of wanting to compete for the title next season, Bulls fans should be cautious in their enthusiasm for rushing Rose’s return.
The worst case scenario for the Bulls is that Derrick Rose misses all of next season and Luol Deng misses the first two to three months due to wrist surgery. That gives way too much playing time to Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver. It's not that those two are bad, but the Bulls won’t dominate with them playing 30+ minutes per night.
What happens during the offseason will determine the next season for the Chicago Bulls.
Rose’s rehab is the key to winning for them. If Rose has to miss most or all of next season, the Bulls might not even sniff the playoffs. In fact, they might be better off tanking and getting a high draft pick.
But, if Rose is healthy, the Eastern Conference better be ready because the Bulls will show why they won the most games in the league two seasons ago and tied the Spurs for the most regular season wins this season.