Have Chicago Bulls Fans Given Up on 2012-2013 Before the Season Starts?
When Derrick Rose went down with an ACL tear in the first game of this year's postseason, Chicago fans felt their team's hopes of contending for a title disappear, not just this season, but the coming one as well. It seems many Bulls fans have already given up on any sort of success in 2012-13.
Have no doubt, Rose is a spectacular player. He was the MVP in 2011, and before he started getting beset with injuries in 2012, he was looking even better. In fact, when he missed his first game due to injury, Rose was second in Player Efficiency Rating, trailing only LeBron James.
He was also second in the league in APER (similar to PER except it includes shots created) and led the league in win shares per minute when he was healthy. Make no mistake about it, Rose was stepping up his game before he started getting clobbered by the injury bug.
Then, a slew of injuries and lack of rhythm due to missed playing time started to catch up with Rose, and his numbers started to fall.
It was a toe. It was a hamstring. It was the torn ACL that finally that did him in for good. After the first five weeks of the season, Rose just couldn't seem to last without getting hurt.
Some claim his style of play was responsible and point to how he hurls himself like a tailback for the Chicago Bears into the other team, attacking the rim with a fervor that is almost religious.
However none of the injuries he sustained were really contact injuries. They were just a string of random, flukey sprains and tears that seemed to be piling up on the MVP.
Still, the "Bench Mob," as they came to be known, kept the Bulls winning while he was hurt. C.J. Watson, Ronnie Brewer and Omer Asik were three of the key players who repeatedly stepped things up and carried extra weight. The Bulls went 18-9 without Rose.
But that "Bench Mob" is largely gone and replaced by a new set of players; some say a less talented set.
So as a result, many have given up on the Bulls season before it began. Should they, though?
Let me predicate this argument in no uncertain terms. In no way should the Bulls be bringing back Rose a single day before he is 100 percent ready. At the same time, they shouldn't put him off simply for the sake of putting him off, though.
There is a time frame more than a timetable for his return, which was given immediately after his surgery, eight to 12 months.
That means he could be out the entire year. It also means he could be back before the All-Star break.
Last year, in terms of a plus/minus per 48 minutes, the Bulls' quintet of Rose, Ronnie Brewer, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah was the best five-man unit in basketball with at least 250 minutes played. They outscored their opponents on average by 16.7 points per 48 minutes.
That was the Bulls' most frequently played lineup. When you swap out Rose for his replacement starter, C.J. Watson, they actually go from a 16.7 to a -1.4.
One way of looking at that is that Rose has an enormous impact on the Bulls' success.
Another way of looking at it is that Watson wasn't really doing that well, and Kirk Hinrich could more than adequately take his place until (and if) Rose returns. Going 18-9 isn't impossible. Certainly going .500 isn't unlikely.
Also, bear in mind Hinrich doesn't have to have his team winning two-thirds of their games the way that Watson did, nor will he have the pressure on him to do so.
But more importantly, it seems that people have a tendency to overlook the talents of Luol Deng and Joakim Noah. Deng was an All-Star. Noah finished eighth in the NBA in Win Shares. Carlos Boozer, for all the flak he takes, was 10th in field-goal percentage.
Isn't it reasonable that the Bulls could tread water? Couldn't they win around 50-60 percent of their games?
Let's say, just for the sake of argument, that the reports that Rose may be ahead of schedule are true. I mean, after all, it's only the man who is going to shell out about $100 million to him that said so. So I'm going to speculate on the possibility he knows more than most about what Rose's condition is.
Let's say that the reports are true and that Rose comes back closer to the nigh side of those predictions, perhaps as soon as the first game after the All-Star break. That's a full month after the soonest reports are.
That gives Rose about 30-35 games to get his legs under him, both literally and figuratively. Sure, he's going to need to take some time to shake the rust off, but there is time to do it.
Does it matter where the Bulls record is if they are 100 percent come time for the playoffs next year? Even if they don't have home court in the first round they'll be able to play with anyone, even the Heat, if Rose is healthy.
If Rose can get up to speed before the playoffs, can the Bulls contend for a title?
Granted, there is a lot that needs to happen between now and then. Tom Thibodeau needs to coach this new bench squad like he did the last to become as good defensively. Taj Gibson needs to continue to grow. Rip Hamilton needs to play in four or five consecutive games without getting hurt. Deng needs to have his wrist heal.
None of those things are a stretch, though. In fact, all are pretty likely.
So the message here is this: Would you rather have another team that wins the regular season title and then struggles with injuries for the postseason, or would you like to see a team that manages the regular season and peaks during the postseason?
That's the silver lining behind the cloud of Rose's injury. He could be hitting all-cylinders come postseason, and fresher than any star in the league. And once they get to the postseason, he could have a number of players who are capable of creating a shot to aid him more than in the past.
So don't give up yet, Bulls fans. There's still plenty to pull for this season.
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