The Chicago Bulls have been all over the map this past week, and that is also a fair assessment for their 2012-13 season thus far. This inconsistency isn’t going to dissipate until the team gets its former MVP on the court—Derrick Rose.
At 18-13, coach Tom Thibodeau has done an admirable job keeping this squad playing great basketball more often than not. However, his players are still prone to throwing up a dud every now and then, most recently evidenced by a 91-81 loss to the lowly Chicago Bobcats on New Year's Eve.
Chicago has also been able to beat some of the best in the league without D-Rose, which was apparent when it knocked off the Miami Heat this past Friday, 96-89.
That’s a good sign for when the superstar point guard returns, as he is the missing piece for a potential NBA Finals contender. If the Bulls play how they did against the Heat on a regular basis with Rose in the lineup, there is a good chance they will emerge as a true challenger to the Eastern Conference throne.
In that contest vs. Miami, Chicago absolutely dominated on the boards and played amazing defense. It’s the current strength of a solid team, but it could get to another level when Rose’s transcendent scoring enters the equation.
Through 31 games, the Bulls are No. 3 in the league in points allowed—giving up a scant 91.5 per contest. They are also No. 10 in rebounding, pulling down 43.2 a game.
How will the Bulls fare when D-Rose gets back?
The problem in the Windy City is scoring, as the Bulls just haven’t been able to find a replacement for Rose in that category and are averaging just 92.5 PPG. Even with volume shooters like Nate Robinson getting significant time, they can’t find a way to reliably put the ball through the bottom of the net.
If Rose is truly getting close to a return (and he reportedly is), we foresee the Bulls make a serious run in the second half of the season.
Everything is clicking for these guys in the rebounding and defensive categories, they just need Rose’s uncanny shot-making ability.