When Derrick Rose fell victim to a torn ACL, the basketball world suffered one of the most devastating blows in NBA history. The 2011 league MVP had flirted with a triple-double to that point, posting 23 points, nine assists and nine rebounds in Game 1 of the Chicago Bulls' postseason series with the Philadelphia 76ers.
From that point on, however, all Rose could do was sit and watch as his hometown franchise lost four of their next five games and found themselves on the receiving end of a first-round exit.
As the 2012-13 regular season rolls around, the Bulls continue to be without their superstar point guard. Per a report via ESPN Chicago, they could be without D-Rose until anywhere from December to April.
With this being known, it is imperative that the Bulls' complementary players remain healthy. At the heart of Chicago's battle for sufficiency in D-Rose's absence will be All-Star small forward Luol Deng, who is battling an injury of his own.
Deng tore a ligament in his wrist this past January and was projected by many to miss a significant amount of time (via ESPN Chicago). The former Duke Blue Devil ended up being absent from just 12 regular season games.
Deng would go on to play through the postseason and 2012 London Olympics, opting to go without surgery and fight through pain.
As he enters the eighth year of his memorable career, the pressure is now on for his best season to date. Rose will be gone for at least half of the team's regular season games and Deng is the most reliable scorer and perimeter defender on the roster.
The question is, will Deng's wrist hold up?
If Not Deng, Then Butler
With all due respect to Taj Gibson's extraordinary versatility, he would be out of position should he start at small forward. For that reason, the Bulls would be forced to turn to second-year player Jimmy Butler.
Although Butler is respectable at the position, the drop-off in NBA stardom would be severe. In turn, the Bulls' chances at sustaining a postseason pace would take a significant hit.
A year ago, the Bulls would be able to maintain a significant offensive pace by inserting Kyle Korver into the starting lineup. Korver could shoot the lights out from distance and drop in double-digit scoring for the Deng-less Bulls.
Jimmy Butler, meanwhile, has proven capable of playing quality minutes. He has not proven capable of producing at a high level, which suggests that the team would not be in postseason form.
If not Deng, it's uncertain.
Who Will Score?
Should Luol Deng find himself sidelined by injury, the team would be without their top two scorers. In turn, Carlos Boozer and Richard Hamilton would take on a burden that they may not be capable of handling.
The task of returning to their previous form. The form that they have not displayed in nearly half a decade.
In turn, it becomes of an extreme necessity that Deng is in the rotation. He is the most well-rounded scorer in the lineup, as each of his teammates are virtual one-trick ponies on offense.
Although the defensive tenacity will remain at a high level, there is no one but Deng who can lead this team on offense. Well, unless D-Rose recovers sooner than expected.
And that just isn't going to happen.