Ranking Tom Thibodeau's 6 Biggest Challenges for Chicago Bulls Next Season
Superstar point guard Derrick Rose will miss most of the year sidelined by an ACL injury and a handful of key players from last year's squad will be playing elsewhere.
Thibodeau has been nothing short of sensational during his stay in Chicago, guiding the Bulls to the top seed in the Eastern Conference two years in a row.
However, things will get tough—really tough— next season for the NBA's 2011 Coach of the Year.
With D-Rose on the shelf, can Thibodeau’s Bulls stay relevant or sadly transform into a lottery team?
And will the newcomers buy into Thibodeau’s system?
Here are six challenges for Thibodeau’s Bulls in 2012-13.
6. Getting Carlos Boozer to Step Up His Game
In Utah, Boozer was a two-time All-Star and one of the league's better power forwards. Unfortunately as a Bull, the former Duke star's game has slipped quite a bit.
With Derrick Rose injured, Thibodeau needs Boozer to step up and be the nearly 20-point, 10-rebound-type of performer whom he was as a member of the Jazz.
5. Getting the Point Guard Combo to Hold Down the Fort Until Rose Returns
Chicago will likely start Kirk Hinrich at the point guard spot with rookie Marquis Teague backing him up.
Hinrich—who's in his second stint with the Bulls—is known for his solid defense and should do a commendable job next season.
Drafted by the team 29th overall in this year's draft, the quick and highly athletic Teague could turn out to have a huge impact in his first year as a pro.
Can the point guard duo hold down the fort until D-Rose returns to the lineup?
4. Having an Injury-Free Team
As everybody knows, Derrick Rose will miss a lot of games during the 2012-13 campaign due to injury.
Hopefully, he's the only valuable member of the Bulls who will miss a significant amount of time.
Rip Hamilton missed 38 games last season, and Joakim Noah sprained his ankle in the playoffs against Philadelphia.
Thibodeau needs to have his players healthy in order to have a great season.
3. Getting Production from a New Bench
The Bulls bench—known as the "Bench Mob"—was one of the main reasons for the team's success over the past two seasons.
This offseason, the second unit was dismantled as Omer Asik, Kyle Korver, C.J. Watson and Ronnie Brewer were let go.
Now, the bench consists of returnees Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler—who will have a bigger role—as well as new guys Marco Belinelli, Marquis Teague and Nazr Mohammad.
Chicago fans hope this group can play at a high level.
2. Keeping the Bulls an Elite Defensive Team
Saying the Bulls have been a stellar defensive ballclub the past two years is truly an understatement.
The team owned the league's top defensive rating in 2010-11 and ranked second last season.
Chicago has a few newcomers, but they should manage to remain an elite defensive team, especially with Thibodeau running the show.
1. Getting the Team Back to the Postseason
Guiding the Bulls to the playoffs next season has to be the biggest challenge for Thibodeau.
With Rose out and role players like Omer Asik, C.J. Watson and Ronnie Brewer gone, Thibodeau is going to have is work cut out for him.
If Luol Deng can continue to play like an All-Star and guys like Rip Hamilton and Joakim Noah can stay healthy, Chicago should reach the postseason for the fifth straight year.
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