7 Reasons the Chicago Bulls Will Make the 2013 Playoffs Without Derrick Rose
Nobody will argue against Rose being the best guy on the roster, but it takes more than one player to succeed—just ask Kevin Love and the Timberwolves or LeBron James when he played for Cleveland. It took more than Rose to get as far as they did last year, and the Bulls have key components to make it past the regular season again.
The Bench Is Revised but Not Ruined
One of the main reasons the Bulls were known as such a strong team was because of their bench depth. Several of those core reserves are no longer in Chicago, so people are writing off the squad without Rose.
However, the Bulls have brought in some strong, and less expensive, talent to replace the guys who were lost.
Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson have replaced C.J. Wants and John Lucas III while freeing up some salary space. Robinson will certainly be an asset to the roster, and an added plus is that he has past experience with Tom Thibodeau.
The Bulls were unable to match Houston's offer sheet for center Omer Asik and instead brought in Nazr Mohommed. This will probably be one area where Chicago will struggle, but Mohammed provides a veteran presence that wasn't there with Asik.
While admittedly tough to lose Kyle Korver, the talented shooter will be replaced by a combination of Marco Belinelli's incredible accuracy and Vladmir Radmonovic's three-point shot.
It will be hard to predict how this newly formed bench squad will perform, but Chicago has definitely done its job to bring in solid replacements that will hopefully get it done.
Taj Gibson's Defensive Prowess
Taj Gibson staying with Chicago is a huge plus, as the 27-year-old is by far the best defender on the roster.
Gibson adds energy to the floor, and his presence helps to stabilize the revised bench a bit. He's quick against opponents, and he averages four defensive rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game.
Aside from being a strong defender, Gibson isn't exactly terrible on the other end, either. Last season he averaged 7.7 points per game. With Gibson in the lineup, Chicago can feel prepared going up against tough defenders like Boston or Miami.
Luol Deng Is Foregoing Wrist Surgery
Luol Deng recently announced that he will not have surgery on his wrist, and his staying in the game will greatly increase Chicago's chances of making it to the playoffs.
Last season the small forward averaged 15.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. He puts up solid numbers, and he's a reliable component to the lineup.
Although Deng will not replace Rose, he is a major role player for Chicago. He's a strong defender along with Gibson, especially as an on-ball wing defender.
Finally, Deng is an invaluable leader to his younger teammates. His presence on the hardwood provides energy and consistency in every game. Not only does he lead his teammates, but Deng is a fan favorite. In a league where fan bases are crucial, having a guy like Deng on the floor every game will go a long way.
Tom Thibodeau Is a Great Coach
Which is more important, a coach or a player? I guarantee you this is a question that Orlando has asked itself several times.
Coaches may not necessarily win games, but strong leadership at the helm is crucial to a team's stability and success, and Tom Thibodeau is one of the top coaches in the league.
Let's let the credentials speak for themselves, shall we?
As a defensive coach, he helped the Houston Rockets rank among the top five in the league in scoring defense and field goal percentage defense from 2004 to 2007, and has helped his team finish in the league's top 10 in team defense 15 times.
He coached in '87 playoff games and was part of the 1999 NBA Finals as an assistant coach with the New York Knicks prior to joining the Boston Celtics, with whom he won the 2008 NBA Championship while serving as an assistant coach.
In 2011 he was named the NBA Coach of the Year after leading the Bulls to a 62-win season. In 2012 he became the fastest coach in NBA history to earn 100 victories and finished as the runner-up for Coach of the Year.
Thibodeau is a proven winner, and he will hold this team together while Rose continues on the road to recovery.
Joakim Noah Should Be Healthy
Chicago fans didn't enjoy seeing Joakim Noah sidelined with a walking cast. Noah is one of the top players on the Bulls' squad, and it will be a major step in the right direction to have him back healthy in the absence of Rose.
Last season Noah averaged 10.2 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. He's a constant force beneath the basket, and his return will make the loss of Asik a lot less traumatic.
Granted, the toughest series last season came against Philadelphia in the postseason, in which the Bulls were missing Noah and Rose. With its starting center hopefully returning 100 percent after sitting out the Olympics, Chicago can rest a little easier.
Chicago Can Use Underdog Status to Its Advantage
In a July 26 interview with SportsCenter, Noah said the following:
"Right now, people are sleeping on us, and we're all right with that. We know at the end of the day, come playoff time, we'll be ready to go [...] We've gone through a little bit of adversity, but I think we're a team full of fighters. That's what I love about Chicago, about the Bulls."
Sure, it pays to sound positive about one's own team, but in all seriousness, Noah brings up a good point. Not many people are expecting the Bulls to win without their star player, and this is the time for Chicago to prove its critics wrong.
Expect the Bulls to start the season off strong, surprising their unsuspecting opponents who aren't prepared for the squad to score without Rose.
Rose Will Be Back
Rose isn't expected to return until March, which is definitely a blow to Chicago. However, the fact remains that he will make his comeback during the regular season.
If the Bulls can keep their win totals up until he's recovered, which I believe they will, the All-Star point guard will be back on the hardwood just in time to lead his team storming into the postseason.