5 Reasons Chicago Bulls Are Struggling Without Derrick Rose
Without Rose, the Bulls have fallen from an Eastern Conference powerhouse to a middle-of-the-pack team, desperately trying to maintain its reputation.
At times, Chicago has looked about as good ever, playing tough defense and winning games. More often, however, we have seen a team that is struggling without its star and being left only to wait for his body to heal.
Let's take an in-depth look at what exactly the Bulls are struggling with during Derrick Rose's absence.
5. Lack of Excitement
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Even without Rose in the lineup, Chicago remains one of the NBA's most dedicated fanbases, and the Bulls lead the league in average home attendance (21,552 per game).
The fans continue to pack the United Center to cheer on their Bulls, but sadly, this team simply lacks in entertainment value without No. 1 on the court. While there's plenty of fan favorites remaining in the lineup (Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and Kirk Hinrich), the Bulls are simply not an exciting team.
With a defensive mindset, the team isn't about the flashy dunks or ridiculous crossovers as much as they are about playing sound defense and boxing out for rebounds. There's nothing wrong with this, but it's just tough to get the fans going without the excitement on offense that Rose brings.
No Rose means no excitement, and that means the packed home court becomes that much less intimidating for the opponents. If the crowd is in a constant lull, the visiting teams tend to have a better shot of focusing on the game, and Chicago's 5-5 home record may reflect that.
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Turnovers can often be the root of a lot of bad games for a team, especially when every possession counts for an offense without its top scorer.
The Bulls have unfortunately struggled somewhat to take care of the basketball, currently turning the ball over an average of 15.9 times per game. This is something that could be remedied by their notoriously strong defense, but even on that end they are only forcing 14.4 turnovers per contest.
A big contributor to this problem may be the fact that the Bulls have to move the ball around a lot more on offense without having Rose to either run the offense knowledgeably or create his own offense. Having to rely on a more team-oriented offense instead of having a great player like Rose to lean on has taken and will continue to take time to get used to for Chicago.
3. No Reliable Scoring Option
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One thing that made the Bulls so dominant with a healthy Derrick Rose was that he had several options around him to pass to if he was being double-teamed or harassed on offense.
With no Rose, however, opposing defenses can now spread out their forces and not have to worry about anyone in the Bulls lineup taking over the game like Rose could.
Possibly the best option that the Bulls have is Luol Deng, the ninth-year man from Sudan. Even with his 18 points per game, Deng has struggled with consistency in his three-point shooting (30 percent), and he doesn't have the offensive skill set and versatility to be a threat every time he has the ball.
Other guys like Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer and Richard Hamilton put up decent numbers in their own right, but they are still not anything opposing defenses will lose sleep over.
Overall, Rose remains the Bulls' only go-to guy and with him on the sideline, his team will simply have to make do with the pieces they have.
2. Defense Isn't Making Up for Offense
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Chicago has been a team good at establishing and maintaining its reputation as an elite defensive team—with or without Derrick Rose.
Bulls players play both great team and individual defense, often forcing opponents to take tough shots or make bad passes.
There's no doubt that the Bulls can play stifling defense for 48 minutes, but they still haven't found a lot of success in the old adage "the best offense is a good defense." Instead, Chicago has struggled to put up points, eclipsing 100 points in only three of their 16 games this season.
Holding their opponents to low scoring averages has been no problem for the Bulls (allowing only 91.3 points per contest; third in the NBA) but finding ways to score at a high, efficient rate has still eluded their offense, which ranks close to the bottom of the league in scoring (93.3 points per game, 24th in the NBA).
The good defense will surely continue for Chicago, but finding ways to put points on the board without Derrick Rose continues to be a work in progress this season.
1. Closing out Games
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It seems like just yesterday that Derrick Rose was hitting a floater to seal a win for the Bulls against the Los Angeles Lakers on Christmas Day. But alas, those are distant memories for a Chicago team that has struggled to come out on top of close games this season.
Without Rose to take over late in the fourth quarter or to take a game-tying or game-winning shot, the Bulls have been hard pressed to win the close contests (3-5 in games decided by six points or less). Considering all three of those wins came against subpar teams (Sacramento Kings, Orlando Magic and Phoenix Suns), the Bulls must be concerned moving forward if a game goes down to the wire.
With the game on the line, there isn't a very clear answer as to whose number they would call on offense. Would it be Deng? Noah? Hamilton? Hinrich?
Maybe Chicago simply turns to the hottest hand at the time?
A healthy Derrick Rose gives the Bulls comfort and security in times like these and eliminates all questions about who's going to be handling the ball with the game on the line. Without him, the Bulls continue to search for an identity and appear to be slipping more than they thought without their superstar.
Until Rose returns, the Bulls and their fans will have to hold their breath in tight contests and simply hope for the best.