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5 Keys to Chicago Bulls' 2012-13 Season Not Involving Derrick Rose

Justin GoldmanCorrespondent IAugust 20, 2012

5 Keys to Chicago Bulls' 2012-13 Season Not Involving Derrick Rose

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    The Chicago Bulls had high expectations going into the 2011-2012 NBA season; however, the injury to 2010-2011 MVP Derrick Rose in the first round against the 76ers marked the end to the Bulls aspirations. The torn ACL of Derrick Rose figures to keep him out until at least the All-Star break this season and the Bulls are going to have to cope with not having D Rose for the 2012-2013 season.

    With an almost entirely new bench cast, the Bulls will have a lot of slack to pick up this season without their leader. The loss of Derrick Rose is huge, but the Bulls can still be a successful team.

    There are five keys to the Chicago Bulls success that will not involve Rose for the majority of the season. These five keys are going to be the difference between a team that will still compete for the playoffs or a team that will be far down the standings in the Eastern Conference.

Defense

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    Since the hiring of Tom Thibodeau as coach of the Chicago Bulls, they have been a team that prides themselves on defense. It's what they do best. And that is something that is going to have to continue this upcoming season.

    Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, Jimmy Butler, and Taj Gibson still figure to be reliable defenders for the Bulls. The new "Bench Mob" is going to have to prove that they can pick up where last year's unit left off. It will be necessary for the second-teamers to play lock-down defense when the starters need a breather. Last year's bench was considered among the deepest in the leagues, but with only Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson returning, many questions still remain. 

    The Bulls will need to answer these questions quickly if they are going to be a competitive team to start the year.

    The starting group of Kirk Hinrich, Rip Hamilton, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah figures to be a formidable defense for Thibodeau and the Bulls. Defense is the biggest key for Chicago this year if they want to compete without D Rose, and they have the players to do it. It's just a matter of performing.

Bench Players

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    The Chicago Bulls have an almost entirely new "Bench Mob" going into this season. Only Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler remain from a group that would have been competitive as a starting five.

    New additions this season included spot-up shooter Marco Belinelli, rookie guard Marquis Teague, veteran big-man Nazr Mohammed and the small-yet-quick Nate Robinson.

    Many of these players are going to have to make immediate contributions for the Bulls to still be a competitive team come March, when D Rose might return. Nazr and Taj will have to pick up the defensive workload that former Bull Omer Asik left when he was signed by the Houston Rockets.

    Belinelli will be taking the place of fan-favorite Kyle Korver as the Bulls three-point shooter. Belinelli is a more well-rounded player than Kyle Korver and does a decent job of creating his own shot, something Korver struggled with.

    The combination of Hinrich, Teague and Robinson will take the place of D Rose until his return, and it is only a matter of them holding down the fort.

    Jimmy Butler is now in the Ronnie Brewer role. He will be the Bulls defending wing coming off the Bench, and he figures to provide more offense than Brewer did.

    Also not mentioned thus far is big-man Vladimir Radmanovic. He has the ability to stretch the defense as a big, and if he plays with Boozer on the court, he figures to give him more room to operate in the paint.

    Overall, the new "Bench Mob" is going to have to perform even better than last year's in order for the Bulls to be truly competitive in the East.

Playing Time

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    The Bulls will be without their best player; that means they are going to have to find new ways to score. It seems that would mean more time on the floor for Chicago's starters. However, Tom Thibodeau can't fall in love with playing his starters.

    The Bulls and Thibodeau will have to be smart about the minutes they give not only to Luol Deng and Co., but also to the bench players. Their can't be too much of a reliance on either group when the Bulls' season begins, because they don't want their players worn out by the time Rose can return.

    Thibodeau received criticism from fans after many thought he was over playing the starters, and his decision to leave Rose in with a 12-point lead and one minute left is what cost him his season.

    But, that is all purely speculation. This season, the Bulls just have to be smart about the playing time both units get while being sure they don't put too much of a burden on the starters.

Young Guns

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    With the 29th overall pick in the draft, the Bulls were lucky enough to have Kentucky's starting point guard Marquis Teague, brother of Atlanta Hawk Jeff Teague, fall into their laps. Teague will need to prove to the league that he was deserving of being picked higher than number 29.

    The Bulls hope he can become the steal of the draft.

    There is also second-year wing Jimmy Butler. Butler displayed flashes of a solid offensive game last season and has very-good athleticism which should allow him to defend similarly to former-Bull Ronnie Brewer.

    Taj Gibson could also be thrown into this conversation as he enters his fourth year in the league. It also figures to be his best year in the league. Gibson has improved offensively every year thus far, and he needs that to continue so the Bulls second unit has a reliable scorer.

    Gibson's defense is well-known around the league as he continues to lock-down any big-man he faces.

Playing Smart

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    Last season, the Bulls were tied for fifth in the league for fewest turnovers-per-game at 14. This year they will need to stay in the upper-echelon of the league, especially without Derrick Rose.

    They were one of only 12 teams in the league to have a positive turnover ratio, as well. They were also fifth in the league for assists-per-game. Distribution and limiting turnovers are always keys to success, regardless of the team or even sport.

    The Bulls must be able to do both next season if they are to still compete without D Rose.

    Thibodeau's Bulls will have to remain stingy defensively and work to find the fast-break, as well. A team without a true No. 1 scoring option, the Bulls are going to have to get as many easy points as possible. That means getting out in transition and creating easy shots.

    If the Bulls can play smart and efficient basketball, there is no doubt they should still be competitive until Rose returns. Hopefully, when D Rose gets back, the Bulls will be in a position to push for a top-three seed, and the return of Rose may be enough to get them over that hump.

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