But when he returns, his positive impact on the club will make it an instant championship challenger.
According to ESPNChicago.com's Nick Friedell, Rose is "taking full contact" in practice now and could be back in the Bulls lineup at some point after this February's All-Star Game (Feb. 17). And although Chicago is playing excellent basketball right now without Rose, the Bulls' ball movement and offense in general are only going to improve upon his return.
Rose will have a significant impact on Chicago's offensive flow, assist numbers and scoring.
In addition to being a gifted scorer, Rose is an intelligent, unselfish floor general. He averaged roughly eight assists per game in 2011-12 when healthy, while also carrying a large portion of the scoring burden on his shoulders, averaging close to 22 points per game.
This season, Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer are each averaging an additional shot attempt per game in Rose's absence. Expect his return to take some scoring pressure off both Deng and Boozer.
Currently, the Bulls rank 10th in the league in assists, averaging nearly 23 per night (almost the same amount they averaged in 2011-12). With Rose's return, though, I look for Chicago to catapult into the top five in that category. Rose will be looking to avoid disrupting his team's flow in his first few games back, so expect him to be more of a facilitator with the ball rather than a shot-taking scorer.
Without question, Rose's biggest impact will be felt on the scoreboard.
Where does Chicago rank in the East with a healthy Derrick Rose?
His ability to get to the rim and score from a variety of spots on the floor makes him extremely valuable offensively. Without Rose this season, the Bulls rank just 26th in the NBA in scoring offense, averaging 93.5 points per game.
When he returns and gets settled in, however, fans can expect Chicago's average to rise considerably. Yes, Rose's shot attempts will take away from some other Bulls players, but that's good for Chicago, as Rose is undoubtedly the team's No. 1 offensive option.
Defensively, the Bulls will remain one of the NBA's elite stopping units. Even without Rose, Chicago is shutting down its opponents and allowing just 91 points per game, which ranks third in the league.
Overall, Rose's return will have a mighty impact on the Bulls, taking them from Eastern Conference contender to one of the few championship favorites.
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