The Chicago Bulls go into the season with a starting lineup that is relatively unchanged. The only difference in the starting lineup this season is that Kirk Hinrich will start at point guard while Derrick Rose recovers from his ACL injury.
Despite only one move being made, the dynamic of the starting lineup will be completely different heading into the season. Without a guy who can consistently get you 25 points and eight assists every night, the rest of the lineup will have to step up and balance the effort. Here is how I project they will share the production.
Stats: 12.7 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 7.3 APG, 42.2% FG, 37.2% 3P, 84.5% FT, 1.1 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Kirk Hinrich makes his return to Chicago this season after two seasons spent with Washington and Atlanta. Hinrich is a player who has steadily been on the decline for the past few seasons now, but is also a player who I believe can have a resurgence with a return to Chicago this season.
Hinrich has not been a great scorer since the 2007 season, scoring under 12 points per game in every season since then. This season, he will have more opportunities to score when filling the role of Derrick Rose. I also believe he will be a valuable playmaker with Rose out.
Stats: 14.4 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 3.5 APG, 43.7% FG, 37.1% 3P, 84.7% FT, 1.0 SPG, 0.3 BPG
Rip Hamilton came to Chicago last season and ended up disappointing Bulls fans. He missed over half of the season due to injury and was not especially efficient from the field. Overall, fans felt that the Hamilton experiment just didn't work out.
This season, I think that Hamilton will get many more shot attempts, but will not be especially efficient. He will be required to score in bunches with Derrick Rose out. Again, I don't think he will be efficient, but he will score.
Stats: 18.9 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 3.1 APG, 44.4% FG, 35.8% 3P, 83.5% FT, 0.9 SPG, 0.7 BPG
There is a great deal of pressure on this team to succeed this season, and perhaps no player faces more of that pressure than Luol Deng. Deng was named to his first All-Star Game last season as a reserve, becoming only the second Bull to be named to an All-Star team since Jordan retired.
This season, Deng will have to prove once and for all that he deserves the spot he received. He will be relied on to score and create offense while also being counted on for his usual solid defense and rebounding. It will be interesting to see if he's able to hold down the fort until Rose returns.
Stats: 18.1 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 3.3 APG, 47.5% FG, 0.0% 3P, 76.3% FT, 0.8 SPG, 0.5 BPG
Carlos Boozer has been a disappointment ever since his arrival in Chicago. Boozer has not been the offensive player that we hoped for and he has been as bad as advertised defensively. However, he was able to play every game of last season without getting injured, a first for Booze.
With Derrick Rose out, Boozer will really need to step up and prove that he is worth the contract he was given. Boozer is arguably the best offensive player on the team right now, and will be relied on to create offense. The numbers I project would suggest that he will be able to handle the load, at least to some extent.
Stats: 10.4 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 3.6 APG, 48.8% FG, 0.0% 3P, 73.8% FT, 0.8 SPG, 1.9 BPG
Joakim Noah is becoming one of the top centers in the NBA right before our eyes. Two years ago, Jo was named to the All-Defensive Team. He has also helped lead arguably the stingiest defense in the NBA for two seasons straight.
Jo's numbers, as shown above, clearly do not express his effectiveness as a player. He just does so much on the court that cannot be expressed numerically, in addition to the impressive stats he does put up. I expect Joakim's increased role on the floor to lead to his first All-Star appearance.
Stats: 20.4 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 6.8 APG, 41.6% FG, 28.9% 3P, 86.3% FT, 0.8 SPG, 0.4 BPG
Derrick Rose will not be ready to start this season and will likely not be back on the court until February. Based off examination of similar injuries, as well as feedback that we have heard from Derrick Rose and the Bulls, I would imagine that the team will bring Rose back after the All-Star break, which would give him 30 regular-season games.
I imagine that Derrick will put up a lot of shots when he comes back, just to try and get back into the mindset of being a scorer. However, there is little question that Derrick will not trust his ACL at game speed for at least a few weeks, which will likely make him take lower-percentage shots and an elevated number of three-pointers.
If Rose isn't efficient and shoots a bad percentage early on, it's not a bad thing. As long as he starts to get confidence in his knee, then be can return to his former glory.