3 Chicago Bulls Role Players Who Must Step It Up by NBA Playoffs Time

Ernest Shepard@@ernestshepardAnalyst IIIMarch 9, 2013

Mar 8, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls point guard Nate Robinson (2) goes to the basket against Utah Jazz point guard Randy Foye (8) during the first quarter at the United Center.  Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

NBA superstars are usually who lead their teams to the promise-land. For the Chicago Bulls to have future success, a few of their role players must step into the spotlight.

Their All-Stars Luol Deng and Joakim Noah have had stellar seasons thus far, providing toughness and timely offense. They have shared the stage with Carlos Boozer.

With their top three players leading the team to 35 wins and counting, keep in mind that they have not done the heavy lifting by themselves. They have had help.

As much as the term “role player” can be used in a derogatory way, it is also a term of endearment.

When describing the Bulls’ supporting cast, the words gritty, gutsy and overachieving come to mind. How else can you characterize the Nate Robinsons of the world? Robinson, all 5’9” of NBA baller, is the Bulls’ fourth leading scorer.


Is This the Real Nate Robinson?  

He signed as a backup to the returning Kirk Hinrich.

Did anyone ever expect Robinson to average 11.6 points this season?

Did anybody see this coming, anywhere?

What Robinson has done is something short of amazing. He has forced our hands as we continue to pencil him in with double-digit scoring totals night in and night out. Despite his penchant for showboating, you know what he brings to the team, good or bad.

While the lights are never too bright for Robinson, the Bulls have to hope that another frugal free agent signee do not wilt under pressure.


Marco Belinelli must bring it!

When the Bulls signed the Italian sharpshooter, Belinelli declared himself as an upgrade over Kyle Korver. Korver, traded shortly prior to the addition of Belinelli, was beloved by Bulls’ fans. At the time of Belinelli’s chat with the local media people were saying, “how dare he say that he was a better overall player than Korver?”

Korver had two productive years with the Bulls. Unfortunately, he is a standstill jump shooter who rarely puts the ball on the floor. The fact that he needs space to shoot only added to his limitations.

No one who has not recognized the difference between Belinelli and Korver has watched a Bulls game in the last two weeks. With Hinrich and Richard Hamilton saddled with injuries, Belinelli easily has filled the void.

He has averaged 21 points in the last three games. He hit his third game-winning shot while playing for the Bulls, this time against the Utah Jazz. In Hinrich’s absence, Belinelli is also spending time running the offense.

The latter is further evidence of his versatility as he is earning Bulls’ head coach Tom Thibodeau’s trust.

Once the healthy players return, Thibodeau must show faith in Belinelli by keeping him in the starting lineup. Belinelli must return the favor by playing at a continuous high level. Thus far, he is showing signs of being the capable 2-guard that the Bulls have needed for years. Sam Smith of Bulls.com seems to think so.

In a recently published article, Smith wrote about how the answer to the Bulls’ shooting guard problem may already be on the roster.

Belinelli seems to love it in Chicago as well. Here is what he told reporters after a Bulls’ practice earlier in the week.

The NBA is not easy. You have to be lucky to find an organization, to find something to really trust and a guy to give confidence to you. Right now I am so happy to be here. I love everybody, the fans, organization, coaching staff, my teammates. I want to play the best I can. I would really love to be here. We will see this summer.


Derrick Rose Finding His Place

The trade deadline has passed and the Bulls are still waiting for their big acquisition. The “Derrick Rose Watch” began after the All-Star break and no one knows when exactly he will return and how good he can be. With such uncertainty surrounding Rose, is it an inconceivable thought that he will be nothing more than a role player when he plays again?

Before you get into a fit of rage about the mere mention of this, consider a couple of things.

A returning Derrick Rose would only play about 15-20 minutes a game, not the 36.8 minutes he has averaged throughout his career.

Star players do not play 15-20 minutes; they play 32-40 minutes.

Rose will regain his MVP form at some point, but it will not happen until he rounds into game shape. This may in fact take some time and he should not be rushed into the lineup. It is possible that Rose does not resemble the player we are used to watching until late October when the 2013-14 campaign begins.

The other thing to consider is how unfair it is to expect Rose to be the savior of the team.

This season, the Bulls are Luol Deng’s and Joakim Noah’s team. Their roles will not change. Rose must cater his game around their talents if the Bulls want to have a sustained run in the playoffs.

This should be easy as Rose is a point guard who is a great facilitator that knows how to get his teammates involved. Any time that he plays from now until the start of next season must be spent primarily running the offense.

Instead of Derrick Rose the lead actor, think Derrick Rose cast in a supporting role. It is a temporary distinction for the face of the franchise but it is a necessary role of the greatest importance.    


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