Defense is the backbone of the Bulls, and even without Rose, their defensive grit should remain.
In fact, Kirk Hinrich, Rose's replacement in the starting lineup, is a more pesky defender than Rose.
Therefore, the Bulls must continue their defensive philosophies that they've established the past couple seasons. They also must teach their newcomers these foundations.
Here are the four strategies to help the Bulls reach their defensive pinnacle this year.
1. Create scoring opportunities through suffocating defense.
A team's best offense is its defense. If the Bulls can suffocate opponents and create turnovers and missed shots, then they will have plenty of opportunities to score in transition (Perhaps this strategy should go on the offensive slide, but the key here is that such scoring opportunities stem from the defense).
This must be a focus and there's every reason to believe the Bulls can flourish in this regard.
The addition of Hinrich is pivotal to this. Offensively, he's adequate. Defensively, he's outstanding. He can help force highly contested shots and his quick hands generate steals and fast-break scenarios.
Add Hinrich to an already active defensive bunch and this spells trouble for opponents. Joakim Noah and Luol Deng are both stellar defenders and rebounders, and the overall prowess of the Bulls will help generate stops and, in turn, easy buckets.
One of the best ways for the Bulls to address Rose's absence is to exalt the defense to an even higher level. The Bulls will struggle to win games if they are forced to play consistently in the half court, but if their swarming defense wreaks havoc, then transition buckets will give them the upper hand on just about any opponent.
2. Play Taj Gibson more minutes.
If the Bulls are going to be the league's best defense, Taj Gibson will be a chief factor. He's an elite defender who rebounds and blocks shots exceptionally well.
Therefore, he needs to be on the floor more than 20.4 minutes per game, which was his average last season.
Now, we've already emphasized how Boozer needs to be a focal point of the offense, and Gibson usually spells Boozer.
However, the Bulls would be wise to play Gibson and Boozer together, allowing Gibson to play the center position. This gives Gibson and Boozer both the opportunity to play more minutes.
This makes all the more sense after the Bulls lost Omer Asik to free agency. Newcomer Nazr Mohammed has shown some promise in the preseason, but his minutes should be limited.
Gibson is too good to just play around 20 minutes a game. He should be around 30 minutes an outing. If this is the case, expect the Bulls defense to be largely effective in regards to rebounding and blocked shots. Gibson's emerging as a premier frontcourt player, and the Bulls need to showcase him as this.
3. Establish a "win ugly" mentality.
Without Rose, the Bulls aren't going to be consistently seen on SportsCenter's Top 10 plays. They don't possess players with "flash."
But that doesn't mean they can't be efficient. They can "win ugly" and earn victories with scores such as 78-73.
A 78-73 victory is not going to be heavily publicized on SportsCenter, but it gets the job done.
This is the mentality the Bulls must develop this season, and it all starts by embodying a defensive tenacity that is second to none. They must enter the season with this goal: being the league's No. 1 overall defense.
If this happens, they will garner plenty of W's. It just won't always be pretty. Their leading scorer may only have 16 points on 7-of-19 shooting from the field, but if they hold the opponent to a 35 percent field-goal percentage, then who cares?
This is how the Bulls must play this season. It's the style of play that will enable them to reach their ceiling while Rose remains sidelined.
Then, imagine if Rose returns later in the season and this defensive mentality is already in place. Adding their superstar guard to an already rewarding strategy could then be the final piece to the championship puzzle.
4. Utilize Kirk Hinrich in numerous ways.
Hinrich enters the season as the starting point guard, so he will often be checking opposing floor generals such as Rajon Rondo, Brandon Jennings and Deron Williams.
He's an ideal player to contain such point guards.
The Bulls would be wise to extend his role further. In certain matchups, Hinrich is so versatile that he should check an opponent's 2-guard.
For instance, the Miami Heat's starting point guard, Mario Chalmers, isn't very active (besides shooting) in an offense that features LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Therefore, Hinrich's superb defensive instincts would be better utilized against Wade (at least for some of the game).
This tactic should be used against teams that have a rather average point guard, but a potent scoring 2-guard. Hinrich is too proven of a defender to not use in numerous ways, and the Bulls should maximize his potential by aligning him, in certain instances, against wing players.