Best- and Worst-Case Scenarios for Derrick Rose's Return to Chicago Bulls
With Derrick Rose, the cornerstone of the Chicago Bulls franchise, recovering from injury, the team which, mere months ago, seemed to have such a positive outlook is now filled with uncertainty. It has fans wondering what are the best- and worst-case scenarios for the Bulls, both long-term and short-term.
Rose is easily the best player the Bulls have had since the days when Michael Jordan ran the court with Scottie Pippen. Will he return to form, or will he join another list of once-promising careers that were undone prematurely by injury?
Here are the best- and worst-case scenarios for the Bulls, both for this season and for the future.
Worst Case, Short-Term: Rose Returns, Bulls Lose in First Round of Playoffs
After Derrick Rose fell in the first round of the postseason, the Bulls had their proverbial souls ripped from them and came out shell-shocked for Game 2. Then, Joakim Noah was injured in the next game to add injury to injury.
The Bulls didn't even make it out of the first round after entering the postseason with real title aspirations.
The worst-case scenario for the Bulls next year would be the same result, a first-round exit, only with Derrick Rose.
There wouldn't really be anything positive to take from that. There wouldn't be any improvement in their postseason production, and they wouldn't be able to get a particularly helpful draft choice with that position either.
Beyond that, a first-round exit could very well mean that Rose is not yet hitting his rhythm and could result in a restless offseason for Bulls fans everywhere, as well as for Bulls management.
Best Case, Short-Term: Deep Playoff Run
It wasn't too long ago that the Bulls were in the Eastern Conference finals with the Miami Heat, and the only change to the starting rotation since then has been the upgrade form Keith Bogans to Richard Hamilton.
'They are 51-9 in the last two seasons when they've started their four returning starters (Rose, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng).
They are definitely still a team that, when healthy, can compete with anyone in the league, even if with the changes they've made to the "Bench Mob."
They still have coach Tom Thibodeau, the only coach in NBA history to win the most games in the league each of his first two seasons.
It's not preposterous to suggest they could still have a deep playoff run this year, even a title. It all depends on how healthy Rose is when he returns.
In fact, there's a chance that this could actually be more likely to happen if things go right with Rose. It's possible if he returns shortly before or after the All-Star game and uses the remainder of the season to find his rhythm.
Then, when the postseason hits, Rose starts hitting his stride. If he does, he'll be fresher than he's ever been in the postseason, and the Bulls could see an inverse of the previous years—this time with marginal regular-season success and big postseason success.
Worst Case, Long-Term: Rose Is Never the Same
After the glory years of Michael Jordan, there were a few years that were a tad less than glorious. At one point, the Bulls even set a record for futility, scoring a mere 49 points, the lowest since the advent of the shot clock. That happened on April 10,1999, but it seems it was nine days too late.
If Derrick Rose never comes back to at least something resembling his former self, the Bulls could be staring at another prolonged postseason vacation.
Obviously, the lack of Rose being "Rose" would be hugely traumatic to both the team and its fans, but not having him in all his "Rosian" glory is only part of the problem.
The other part of the problem is that he's about to start a new contract that is a max deal worth $95 million. He hasn't played a single day under that contract yet. The Bulls could be honestly staring at what would be the worst contract ever.
That's going to mean that much less that the Bulls have to put together a competitive roster.
If Rose comes back less than 80 percent, it's going to be a very long five years for the Chicago Bulls and their fans.
Best-Case Scenario, Long-Term: Using the Draft to Create a Dynasty
In 1997, a full 10 years after having won the NBA draft lottery and using that pick on David Robinson, the San Antonio Spurs won the lottery a second time, and this time chose Tim Duncan.
The pair would team up to win an NBA title in 1999 and another in 2003. They are the only pair of NBA teammates who were drafted No. 1 overall, both won the MVP and won a title together.
The best-case scenario for the Bulls, although this should be anything but a "goal," would be if they missed the playoffs entirely, won the lottery again and added a player like Shabazz Muhammad, the Bulls could be a ridiculous team to contend with for coming seasons.
If the Bulls were to win the lottery, the Bulls wouldn't have to worry about anyone else snatching him up, but with the reports coming from Yahoo!'s The Sports Xchange, Muhammad might fall in the draft. The lower the Bulls finish in the standings, the better the chances of them finding a second franchise player.
You don't have to have two franchise players to win a title, but teams that have won multiple titles tend to have them. Every once in a while, you have teams with balance, depth and defense that pull it off with only one star, but they don't tend to repeat.
Th best case for the Bulls might actually be the worst possible season. The Spurs won their second lottery because David Robinson was injured and the Spurs fell off the map, winning 39 fewer games in 1997 than 1996.
A similar descent into the abyss could actually be a bizarre sort of best-case scenario for the Bulls if they are able to secure the services of another franchise player to accompany Rose and Rose comes back to full strength.