The Chicago Bulls knew that they would be without Derrick Rose for much of the 2012-13 season, but it seems that not all of Rose's teammates got them memo.
In Rose's absence, the remaining healthy members of the Chicago squad were expected to pick up the slack. Some of them have thrived, while some of them have wilted without the superstar.
Luol Deng is so far having a bounce-back year with 18.9 points per game and 7.4 rebounds; Joakim Noah's 15.3 point average is the highest in his career; Nate Robinson (11.4 points on 49.2 percent shooting) has provided a bench spark-plug the squad missed for many seasons.
The Bulls currently sit at 4-3 on the year, first in the Central Division, and that is thanks to a number of players who've excelled. Not all of the Bulls have fared so well, though.
Let's take a look at three Bulls who have been disappointing so far in this Rose-less season.
Richard Hamilton isn’t having a dreadful season. He’s averaging a third best 13.5 points per contest on 45.7 percent shooting, which are both respectable numbers for the team’s third/fourth option on offense.
Defense has been a bit of a different story. According to Synergy Sports, Hamilton is allowing .84 points per defensive possession, which is 107th in the league and the worst for the Bulls' starting lineup.
According to Synergy Sports, Rose was tied with Taj Gibson as the Bulls' best defender last season. Hamilton has always been considered a good defender, and he needs to regain that form in order to help Chicago cover up for the loss of Rose.
Hinrich was never expected to completely replace Rose. Rose is an All-NBA type scorer, and while Hinrich has been a solid scorer in the past (his career high was 16.6 points per game in 2006-07), he was brought in primarily to run the offense until Rose could return.
Hampered by a hip injury and inconsistent play, Hinrich has been a big disappointment so far.
Through six games (he missed the Bulls' 101-95 loss to Boston on Monday) he’s averaged 5.6 points and 5.0 assists while shooting 32.5 percent from the field.
As a team, the Bulls are still running a solid offensive game. They’re getting 94.6 points a contest, which while 20th in the league doesn’t tell the whole story. They’re shooting 44.6 percent from the field, 11th best in the association and as a team they dish out a sixth-best 24 assists per contest.
Coach Tom Thibodeau has done a masterful job at keeping the Bulls offense running without Rose, and as usual their defense has been spectacular (their 90.4 points per game is tied for fourth).
Still, if the offense is going to work long term, Hinrich is going to need to step it up and fix his offensive woes.
I predicted a bounce-back season for Carlos Boozer (check out an earlier article from two weeks ago) since Chicago would run their offense to him and his scoring would rise.
So far, Boozer has just continued to be what he’s been his whole Chicago career—a big disappointment.
He’s getting the second highest shot attempts of any Bulls (11.1 a game, tied with Richard Hamilton and trailing Luol Deng at 15) but he’s shooting just 41.0 percent from the field. His average of 11.3 points a contest is fifth best on the squad.
He’s nearly averaging as many shots as he is points, which is unforgivable for a player making a max contract. Luckily for him (and his Bulls teammates) Deng has stepped up big so far this season in Boozer’s absence. Can Deng keep it up if Boozer struggles?
Boozer needs to fix his efficiency issues. For the Bulls to stick in the playoff hunt, they cannot continue to get 11.1 points per contest from a player with a career average of 17.