Drew Hallowell/Getty Images
So, how are the Bulls going to look this year?
Certainly, it would be entirely unrealistic to expect them to win the most games in the regular season for the third consecutive year.
That doesn't mean they are out of the playoff hunt, though. There still exist many of the reasons they have been an elite team in the NBA over the last two years.
Yes, they had a great deal of success last year without Derrick Rose, but that was because of the crew we came to know as the "Bench Mob", right?
Partly, but be careful not to overstate things here. Two years ago, the group that the present mob is replacing weren't considered to be the deepest group in the league, either. In fact, most of the projections for the Bulls going into the 2010-2011 season weren't all that different than entering the 2012-2013 season.
Assuredly, there will be struggles. The Bulls will have a big problem getting to the free-throw line and they will have trouble with players generating their own shots.
They do have some players who are shooters though, including Carlos Boozer, whose field goal percentage was 10th-best in the NBA last year. If Boozer steps up and stays consistent, he could have a big year. That's a huge if, though.
Whatever else their failings are going to be, there are three things the Bulls will do well this year: play hard, play defense and rebound.
Tom Thibodeau is a brilliant player developer, and that's what made the former group special. He can work with this group, too. A big part of what he does is bring the most out of players by motivating them to perform at their best level. He might scream a lot, but he screams with love; his players know that and are genuinely fond of him.
Thibodeau also has a penchant for teaching defense that few in the history of the game have ever had. His teams have finished in the top six in Defensive Rating for nine of the last 10 years. They'll do so again this year.
Finally, a big part of the reason why the Bulls were successful the last couple of seasons had a lot more to do with Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer (egads!) than Derrick Rose, because they are a sensational rebounding team.
They had an offensive rebounding percentage of 32.6 percent. Their opponents had an offensive rebounding percentage of about 25.7 percent. Essentially, that means that the Bulls were able to get about 6.9 percent more possessions per game than their opponents, which in turn means about 6.9 percent more chances to score.
Leading the league in offensive rebound percentage was a key reason (other than Rose) that they finished in the top five in offensive rating.
That was not an issue that changed with Rose on or off the court, and it wasn't something that even Asik leaving should greatly impact (while Asik was the leading rebounder per minute, he only averaged 5.3 per game).
Noah was fourth in offensive rebound percentage and Boozer was 10th in defensive rebound percentage. When you put that together, you have a great rebounding team.
They will struggle on offense at times this year, especially without Rose, but their intensity, their defense and their rebounding will keep them in games.
Because of this, and the eventual return of Derrick Rose, expect the Bulls to still hit 50 wins this season, albeit barely. The Bulls will make the playoffs, and if Rose is able to get to 80 percent before the season ends, they'll be a threat once they get there.
Defensive Rating: 3rd
Offensive Rating: 18th
Total Rebound Percentage: 1st
Effective Field Goal Percentage: 17th
Scoring Leader Until Rose Returns: Carlos Boozer, 18.6 points per game.
Assist Leader Until Rose Returns: Kirk Hinrich, 6.2 assists per game.
Rebound Leader: Joakim Noah, 11.2 rebounds per game.
MVP Until Rose Returns: Luol Deng