Complete Chicago Bulls Player Power Rankings for Start of 2012-13 NBA Season
During the preseason, the new-look Bulls looked formidable during stretches (compiling a 5-2 record). They should remain formidable throughout the regular season chiefly because coach Tom Thibodeau always supplies championship-caliber defensive ball clubs.
But there are still some kinks to work out. On some occasions during the preseason, the Bulls looked like a team lacking in depth and familiarity with one another.
Here we examine the current player power rankings for Chicago, specifically critiquing which players must embrace pivotal roles while their superstar remains in street clothes.
If these players produce effectively, there's every reason to believe this team will successfully navigate its way to the playoffs.
*Rose is not included in this list because of his injury.
12. Vladimir Radmanovic
Bulls fans should hope to see a very limited amount of Vladimir Radmanovic this season. If they are seeing him frequently, that spells trouble. This would seem to indicate that Carlos Boozer or Taj Gibson has been injured.
"Vlad Rad" has never been a consistently potent threat in the NBA, and he is now 31 years old.
Plus, defense has never been his strong point, which is surely going to hurt him in Thibodeau's rigorous defensive system.
His chief value is seen in the fact that he's 6'10'' and can shoot the three-ball. But that strength will only be utilized on a limited basis, if at all.
During the preseason, Radmanovic saw limited action, likely signifying that his role will only be marginal, unless there's an injury.
And quite frankly, if there is an injury, the Bulls would be wise to shop for a more versatile power forward. At this stage in Radmanovic's career, he's not suited to play considerable minutes.
11. Marquis Teague
The first-round selection of Marquis Teague is baffling the minds of Bulls fans. He struggled mightily in the summer league and has continued to look inept during the preseason.
Quite frankly, he looks a like a guy who could've used a couple of more years in college to develop some maturity.
He's only 19 so he could turn the corner in a few years, but he's not anywhere close to being NBA-ready at this juncture. The Bulls were wise to sign both Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson to fill the void of Rose's absence because Teague is simply not prepared to be handed the reins.
He'll likely be near the bottom of the depth chart for most of the season, and he could even benefit from a stint in the NBA D-League.
No matter what, he doesn't figure to play a steady role for the Bulls this season, and Bulls fans can only hope that this mysterious pick finds ways to develop as he grows older.
10. Marco Belinelli
The hope for Marco Belinelli is that he can fill the role Kyle Korver played the past couple of seasons in Chicago.
In fact, there's reason to hope that he can be better than Korver because Belinelli is a better ball-handler.
Unfortunately, Belinelli has looked out of rhythm with the Bulls thus far. He struggled with his long-range shot during the preseason, and he is by no means a proven defender.
It will take him some time to gain his footing with the Bulls, but there's definitely potential there. He is a career 39.3 percent three-point shooter, so that value should be seen in due time. He can also create his own shot, something the Bulls desperately need with Rose out.
Overall, Belinelli should contribute just as effectively as Korver, but it may take him a few months to get there. But once he's there, his offensive potency could become a key ingredient to the Bulls' new-look "Bench Mob."
9. Jimmy Butler
Jimmy Butler is set to embrace a consistent role in his second season in the league. With defensive-minded Ronnie Brewer no longer in Chicago, Butler figures to provide some defensive stability to the Bulls' second unit.
Butler has great size (6'7'', 220 pounds) to defend elite wings, even LeBron James. His quickness coupled with his length make him a more than adequate defensive player.
The concern with Butler is his shaky offensive play. He didn't flash many signs of potential in his brief appearances last season, and he's continued to be inconsistent in the preseason.
Perhaps he will develop some confidence as he becomes a regular reserve, but Bulls fans shouldn't expect much from Butler offensively at this point. His decision-making and jump shot are both in need of some vast improvements.
With that said, he still figures to receive minutes each game because of his defensive prowess, but those minutes will likely remain small unless he can reveal some consistency with the ball in his hands.
8. Nazr Mohammed
Veteran Nazr Mohammed was definitely a bright spot for the Bulls during the preseason.
He notched a handful of impressive performances and showed that he's still capable of scoring in the low post and snagging his share of rebounds.
This already confirms that the Bulls made the correct decision in choosing to not re-sign Omer Asik.
Asik, who was a Bull the past two seasons, is a top-notch defensive center who garnered a hefty contract from the Houston Rockets. The Bulls could've matched the deal, but made the wise financial maneuver to sign Mohammed to the veteran's minimum instead. The Bulls saved plenty of cash in this decision, and Mohammed is looking as if he'll be a competent replacement.
Mohammed should be able to contribute solid spot minutes. He is actually a better offensive center than Asik, and on some nights, it wouldn't be shocking to see him tally a double-double.
Mohammed is aging (35 years old), and he isn't going to "posterize" anybody, but he's still capable of getting the job done and being a consummate teammate.
7. Nate Robinson
Nate Robinson had some eye-popping performances in the preseason, but he also had a couple duds.
This is the nature of "Kryptonate's" style of play. He can be an offensive spark plug on any given night, but his value is quickly erased when his jumper isn't falling.
No matter what, Robinson is going to be relied upon for much of this season. The Bulls are lacking in point guard depth (while Rose is out), and Robinson is capable of running the show, setting up teammates and also catching fire when he finds a rhythm.
Don't be surprised if he becomes a fan favorite in Chicago. He's animated and will surely bring hype to the United Center.
But also don't be surprised if Bulls fans boo him because of a 1-14 shooting night.
He figures to be a main offensive weapon off the bench, but consistency shouldn't be expected.
Honestly, he's a pretty similar player to John Lucas III, who the Bulls possessed last season. Both players thrive in the run and gun and can heat up in an instant.
But this style of play is downright frustrating when the shots aren't falling, and it's leading to quick and easy transition buckets for the opponent.
Get used to this emotional roller-coaster with Robinson, because his game has always been like this.
6. Kirk Hinrich
Kirk Hinrich was undoubtedly a keen addition to this roster. He stabilizes the offense and brings grit to the defensive end. He's sure to please Bulls fans this season.
The main concern with Hinrich is his health. It was an issue last year and is already an issue this season, as he's been nursing a groin injury.
The Bulls desperately need a healthy Hinrich. His veteran, savvy style of play and defensive activity are especially needed since Rose is sidelined.
Plus, while he's a newcomer this season, he spent the first seven seasons of his career (2003-10) with the Bulls, and he's no stranger to playing with Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson.
Hinrich is a key ingredient to the Bulls' success this season, and he will certainly make an immediate impact. In fact, during his preseason appearances, he already looked as if he was gelling nicely with Chicago's core.
But, once again, the big if is whether he can remain healthy. If he's banged up consistently, the Bulls will suffer mightily and could find themselves merely battling for a playoff berth.
5. Richard Hamilton
Richard Hamilton's first season in Chicago was a disappointing one. He battled injuries and could never establish a flow with his new teammates.
This season figures to be much different. After developing more familiarity with the Bulls, he's poised to have a quality season across the board.
Truthfully, Rip will likely lead the Bulls in scoring on many nights. While he is 34 years old, his game has never relied upon "above the rim" athleticism. He scores by running off screens, utilizing pump fakes and getting to the foul line. If his body treats him well, all these strengths should be evident this season.
What's more, Hamilton is also an underrated passer. After catching off screens, he has a crafty way of slipping passes to open big men for layups.
The bottom line is that Hamilton should be a featured part of the Bulls' offense while Rose is out. He's a veteran playmaker and good things happen when the ball is in his hands.
4. Taj Gibson
While he is still not a starter, Taj Gibson could be rated even higher on this list. He's one of the best post defenders in the league, and his offensive game has continued to improve.
Further, he's set to receive more minutes this coming season and will likely even play some with Carlos Boozer, something that wasn't seen much the past couple of seasons.
Gibson's too valuable to only play 20.4 minutes per game, his average last season. He's active on both ends of the floor and will be looked to as the leader of the "Bench Mob" this year.
Currently, he's amidst working out a contract extension with the Bulls, and it will be interesting to see how this deal shakes itself out. He's definitely deserving of a long-term deal, and the Bulls are wise to keep him in the center of their core for the future.
It could be a matter of time before Gibson finds himself in the starting lineup for the Bulls. This could potentially be Carlos Boozer's last season in Chicago (if they use the amnesty clause on him next summer), and Gibson could soon become the premier frontcourt weapon on the Bulls' roster.
3. Joakim Noah
Joakim Noah is going to produce when he's on the floor. It's that simple.
He's not going to offensively dominate games consistently, nor is he going to look pretty playing the game. But he's going to rebound, defend, score garbage buckets and even set up his teammates with his surprising passing ability.
If Noah can display all of these qualities consistently, he could become an All-Star. He's garnered respect around the league, and he's at the core of the constant energy the Bulls exhibit.
He's looked splendid during the preseason and should tally plenty of double-doubles throughout the season.
His numbers should see an increase due to the departure of Asik, who would often play excessive minutes at the center spot. It's unlikely that Nazr Mohammed will steal Noah's minutes as regularly as Asik did.
Therefore, this should be a big year for Noah, and the Bulls are going to need him especially while Rose is out, both for his aggressive play and his emotional leadership.
2. Carlos Boozer
Carlos Boozer is often criticized, but he still ranks No. 2 on the Bulls' power rankings because he's their main offensive weapon.
Boozer must exclaim his value this season while Rose is on the sidelines. The Bulls are in need of a prominent scorer, and no one else can supply this like the "Booze cruise."
Yes, he comes with frustrations. He too often settles for that high-arching mid-range jumper, and his defense is unquestionably subpar.
But he honestly did have an efficient season in 2011-12 (averaging 15.0 points per game on 53.2 percent shooting, as well as 8.5 rebounds per game).
These numbers should see an increase this season since he'll be the "main man" for a good chunk of the year. If the numbers don't increase, then Boozer deserves to fall down this list fast.
What's more, Boozer should be playing with extra motivation this year, because if he underperforms, he could receive the amnesty clause come next summer.
That motivation should prompt him to have a big year, and it wouldn't be shocking to see him notch numbers similar to those during his last year in Utah (19.5 PPG, 11.2 RPG).
1. Luol Deng
Luol Deng earned his first All-Star appearance last year, and he will need to show why he's an All-Star this season.
The running theme throughout this is the importance of players stepping up while Rose is out, and Boozer and Deng carry this burden more than anyone.
Deng must lead this team on both ends of the floor. Boozer is a more skilled offensive weapon, but Deng must create and find ways to score consistently as well. Quite frankly, his scoring numbers from last season (15.3 PPG on 41.2 percent from the field) must increase this year.
A higher percentage is definitely needed, and a scoring output around 18 PPG would be crucial. If Deng can produce this while also continuing to exhibit elite defensive play, then he'll likely find himself on the All-Star team for the second straight season.
What's more, Deng must embrace more of an emotional role during the 2012-13 season. He goes about his business rather quietly, which is fine to a degree. But without Rose, the Bulls are in need of someone to assert themselves as the leader, and Deng, as an All-Star, must fulfill this.
Deng has been a key ingredient to the Bulls' success the past couple of years. He must now be the main ingredient and reveal the multiple dimensions to his game that make him one of the league's most versatile threats.