The Bulls sit at 8-7, enough to remain a fringe playoff team, but not even close to being the championship contender they've proven to be the past couple years with Rose on the floor.
Consider the following. With Rose in the lineup for 81 out of 82 games in 2010-11, Chicago steamrolled its way to a 62-20 record. They notched the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs, Rose earned his MVP award and they reached the Eastern Conference Finals.
They were then ousted by the star-studded Miami Heat, but it wasn't because Rose was lacking. It was clearly because the Heat were comprised of three elite weapons and the Bulls just one.
Last season, the Bulls once again netted the league's best regular season record. While Rose missed plenty of games due to injuries, they compiled an exceptional 32-7 record when Rose was in the lineup.
Further, look at how Chicago unraveled in the playoffs last year after Rose tore his ACL. Granted, Joakim Noah also got hurt, but the Bulls became completely inept once they lost their superstar point guard.
This track record reveals Rose's value, which continues to be magnified in his absence this season. He is honestly validating his 2011 MVP, and he is not even playing. The fact that they drop from a team who wins more games than anyone to a mere .500 type of squad is telling. The bottom line is that Rose is not just a valuable player, but he is the most valuable player to his team in the league.
Some have questioned Rose's winning the MVP in 2011, arguing that the chief reason the Bulls won a hefty amount of games that year was because of defense and coach Tom Thibodeau. It is true that they've enjoyed their success largely because of their defensive tenacity and Thibodeau's crafty schemes.
However, it's clear that without Rose, their defensive vigor will only get them so far. Thibodeau has been influential, but Rose is foundational to this team. This understanding is being exclaimed this year while he remains in street clothes.
Quite frankly, there's reason to believe the Bulls would be sitting at a 13-2 record right now if Rose were healthy. Let's analyze some of their losses.
They've dropped a couple inexplicable games to weak opponents, including the New Orleans Hornets and Portland Trail Blazers. The presence of Rose would have drastically tilted the outcome of these games in the Bulls favor.
Further, the majority of their losses to respectable opponents have been tight ball games. If Rose was on the floor in their losses to the Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets and Milwaukee Bucks, it's more than logical to believe the Bulls would've eked out victories.
Based on their success with Rose in uniform the past couple seasons, a 13-2 record is very reasonable. They have enough to remain competitive without him, but his superstar capabilities are what carry them to consistent wins.
If Rose wouldn't have gotten hurt, perhaps fans and analysts would continually question if Rose truly deserved the 2011 MVP, or if he's simply one of the league's pinnacle players.
But his absence thus far this season is validating his MVP award as well as his status as one of the NBA's marquee studs. He's the definition of a franchise player, and his presence dramatically alters Chicago's level of play.
Bulls fans have already started dreaming of Rose's return and what this team can do with him in the lineup. Based on what's outlined in this article, it's safe for Bulls fans to assume that upon his return (assuming he returns to his usual form), the Bulls are a threat in the Eastern Conference.
While they may still lack a potent offensive scoring weapon to pair next to Rose, it's vividly clear that his MVP talents can help the Bulls reach newfound heights. Their defensive grit coupled with Rose's game-changing presence give them hope for a bright future, whether his return occurs this season or next season.
Truthfully, it's not outside the realm of reason for Bulls fans to dream big for this season. If he returns in February or March and slowly regains his form as the playoffs near, perhaps the Bulls will hit their stride as the playoffs begin. While they almost surely will not possess a top seed like the past two years, they could be soaring in confidence due to the return of their cornerstone point guard.
By not even playing a game this season, Rose's significance to the Bulls is being highlighted. He means everything to their squad, and this reality is only validating his MVP. It also promises to elevate the Bulls into contender status as soon as "The Windy City Assassin" returns to the hardwood.