Derrick Rose's Return Wouldn't Make Chicago Bulls NBA Title Contenders

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 3, 2013

CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 28:  Derrick Rose #1 of the Chicago Bulls shoots while working out before the Bulls take on the Phildelphia 76ers at the United Center on February 28, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Derrick Rose can't lead the Chicago Bulls to an NBA title in 2013.

Without their star point guard for the 2012-13 season, the Bulls have managed pretty well. They sit fifth in the Eastern Conference with a 34-25 record.

It's hard to gauge when Rose could make his return from the torn anterior cruciate ligament he suffered against the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of last year's playoffs. Both the Bulls and Rose have been very mum regarding the date that Rose might possibly come back.

Should he get on the court this season and return to something close to 100 percent, would he even make a huge difference for Chicago?

In the previous two seasons, the Bulls finished first in the East during the regular season, only to then crash out in the postseason. Rose's injury hastened their exit in 2012, but they were thoroughly outclassed in 2011 by the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Rose would be an upgrade over Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson, without a doubt. Robinson in particular has been a surprise this season.

Regardless of Rose's possible return, the team would still lack the kind of secondary scorer to complement him. Luol Deng is a very good player and works extremely hard on the court. He's not the kind of player who can handle a share of the scoring load, though, as demonstrated in the Bulls' playoff exit.

It's also extremely far from a guarantee that Rose could return and immediately retain the explosiveness that's made him so good. If he doesn't yet have that slashing and ability to pull off circus layups, then the Bulls' offense is in major trouble.

Chicago's only averaging 92.7 points a game, 28th in the league. Under Tom Thibodeau, the Bulls are unlikely rank anywhere outside the middle of the pack in offense. Still, they need an offensive injection to succeed in the postseason, and there's no guarantee Rose can bring that.

In addition, the Bulls have not done much in the past couple of seasons to change up the team. They aren't like the Oklahoma City Thunder in that they have a talented, young core that needs time to mature. Chicago has reached its peak in the playoffs with the team as it's currently constructed.

The Andrea Bargnani for Carlos Boozer trade rumor was a bit odd, but it was at least something different. Chicago chose to hold on to Luol Deng and Joakim Noah, who are both key cogs. Either of the two could have provided a nice return in any move.

Guys like Deng, Noah and Boozer are extremely solid players. Their limitations are very clear, though. Their flaws are exposed when more talented teams have multiple chances at the Bulls.

Nobody could argue the Bulls are a bad basketball team. Their success over the past few years shows there's talent in this basketball team. What also looks clear, however, is that the Bulls have a ceiling with this unit. They don't have the weapons to be able to beat somebody like the Thunder, Miami Heat or San Antonio Spurs over seven games.

Even with Rose, Chicago is a team that would fall short come the playoffs.