When will Chicago Bulls’ fans witness Derrick Rose’s return to the basketball court? The answer to that question remains unknown. While it is hard to predict a date for Rose’s comeback, predicting what will happen with his team is a piece of cake.
In the article “Post All-Star Break Predictions for Bulls”, I stated five bold predictions regarding the Bulls and the final 30 games remaining on their schedule. One of those declarations was the riposte of Derrick Rose and the ramifications as a result, some good and some bad. The entire paradox shifts once he suits up again.
How will he gel with his teammates?
How close will he resemble his play prior to this knee injury?
Those are questions that will be answered in due time.
Everyone wants to see Rose back into the lineup; this includes his Bulls teammates. Seldom has the question," how well will they play off each other" get asked.
Rose had great chemistry with several core players on the team, but what about Marco Belinelli and Nate Robinson? Rose has never played in an actual NBA game with either of them. Can they handle one of his passes? Getting comfortable in the new offense is going to take Rose some time.
He will also have to adjust to the elevation of Carlos Boozer’s game; not to mention he will have to blend in with Luol Deng and Joakim Noah.
There will be an adaptation process for Rose and the Bulls. Although it will be short-lived, it will get ugly before it turns up roses.
If Rose plays more than 10 games, he will win at least one of them, offering a glimpse of the player he was when he won the Most Valuable Player award two seasons ago. The scenario I envision is a rested Rose taking and making a game-winning shot, or hitting free throws that will ice the game.
Imagine the lift the team would receive if this happens. It would be monumental. One small shot from Rose equates to a huge leap by the Bulls.
Another declaration from the aforementioned article “Post All-Star Break Predictions for Bulls,” was that Carlos Boozer would be dealt before the NBA trade deadline. Currently, there is a minimal buzz regarding a Boozer trade, so all signs point to him remaining a Bull.
Boozer will have his old point guard (Rose) back at some point. Rose, with nearly an entire season of watching how to best utilize Boozer, will have a reliable low post scorer. They will flourish together.
All year long Boozer has received passes from non-traditional point guards Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson. The have fed him the ball where he wants them to—in his hands, while he is in a good position to shoot.
Rose has had time to watch plenty of film and has learned that Boozer is ready and willing to take the reins as the go-to player when the Bulls need point in a half-court offense.
If Boozer can score nearly 16 (15.7) points a game with Hinrich and Robinson getting him the ball, imagine what he can do with Rose passing it to him.
When Rose plays again, someone will have to take a backseat and lose playing time. That someone will not be Nate Robinson.
Robinson will naturally lose some playing time, as will the other guards: Hinrich, Richard Hamilton and Marco Belinelli. I firmly believe that the decrease in Robinson’s minutes will not be drastic. Robinson plays 23.6 MPG while averaging 11.9 PPG. He is third on the team in scoring and the Bulls need all the scoring they can get.
There will come a time when both Robinson and Rose will be on the floor together, thus giving the Bulls two ball-handlers and shot-creators. They would make a diminutive backcourt, but they beget several mismatches for opposing teams.
The coaching staffs on the opposite end of the floor would have to defend the Bulls differently. It would be similar to when Ben Gordon played for the Bulls in Rose’s first two NBA seasons.
While it is a foregone conclusion that the Miami Heat are the favorites to win the East, they are not invincible. A healthy Derrick Rose, plus a favorable playoff seeding equals a threat to the Heat’s title run.
If the season ended today, the Bulls and the Brooklyn Nets are one of the first-round matchups. It is not a sexy pairing, but a winnable one for the Bulls. Both teams are tied 1-1 in the season series with two games remaining. The teams next face each other on March 2 in what could be a game where Rose returns.
The Nets are one of four likely playoff foes for the Bulls.
The other teams are the Indiana Pacers, Atlanta Hawks and Boston Celtics. Among them, the Pacers and Celtics pose a serious problem for the Bulls. The Pacers are loaded with size, while the Celtics have an abundance of playoff experience.
Just as the Bulls would have problems, it is not inconceivable that they could handily defeat either team in a best-of-seven playoff series. Having Derrick Rose improves their postseason chances dramatically.
Rose will complete a roster that has had a void when he originally tore his ACL on April 28. The Bulls already have size, two All-Stars in Luol Deng and Joakim Noah and they have more clutch performers now than at anytime in Rose’s career.
It is a great time to be a Bulls fan. The rose of Chicago will be burgeoning soon.