Despite what the Adidas commercials might be telling you, Derrick Rose is not walking onto the court anytime soon.
The star point guard suffered a torn ACL in last season's playoffs and should be out for a significant portion of the season. Sports Illustrated reported that the rehab is "on schedule," but that includes a recovery time frame of eight to 12 months.
However, that does not mean the season is over for the Chicago Bulls.
There is still a lot of talent on this team that could help them contend for a spot in the postseason and maybe more. In order to do that though, it will need an increased contribution from these players.
The Harry Potter look-alike had a successful start to his career with the Bulls, but Kirk Hinrich has not had a successful season at point guard is almost five years.
Except for some small contributions by Nate Robinson and rookie Marquis Teague, Hinrich will be the guy running the point for the Bulls. While he is not Rose, he does not have to be a replica of the All-Star to be successful.
The biggest thing the veteran must do is keep his assist numbers high. There are a number of talented players on the floor, and he needs to make sure that he finds them consistently and avoids turnovers.
Hinrich's career-high average was 6.8 assists per game in his rookie season, but he was able to get seven assists against the Sacramento Kings in the first game of the year. If he can keep this number high, the Bulls can stay competitive.
With Rose out, the Bulls lose a lot of points. The former MVP led the team with 21.8 points per game in an injury-riddled year last year and finished with 25 points per game the year before.
Considering that Hinrich is not going to make up for that scoring, the points will need to come from somewhere.
Luol Deng will need to be the perimeter player that steps up his efforts in that category every night. He has averaged at least 14 points per game in each of the last seven years, but he will now need to bring that number up closer to 20 per game.
Joakim Noah and Richard Hamilton each had big first games, but that is unlikely to last. Noah is good for about 10-12 points per game on average through his career, while Rip is on the tail end of his career and will not have the legs to keep up this scoring.
Deng needs to be the guy that carries the team as a scorer. It was only one game, but 3-of-13 from the floor will not get it done this year. The veteran has to be the focal point of this weakened offense.
The fans in the city of Chicago need to believe in the Bulls as much as the players in the locker room. Noah is the man to make sure that happens.
Without Rose, the center needs to be the emotional leader to make sure the team stays competitive in every game, regardless of the opponent.
Whether that means making the final four free throws of the game like he did in Game 1 or simply yelling at his teammates during timeouts, the 27-year-old veteran must lead this team.
Noah has been a very energetic player throughout his career, even dating back to his days at Florida. While many outside the organization want to call this a lost season, he must prove that this is not the case.
Each player has a specific role with this team. No one is going to be the superstar that Derrick Rose was and should be again, but this is still one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference without him.
If these players play to the best of their abilities, good things will happen this year.
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