The Chicago Bulls are expecting Derrick Rose to come back any day now but, until that happens, they'll have some widely unknown players contributing more than initially expected, which they have proved capable of doing.
Rose's return seem imminent at this point, although they're still waiting to figure out when he'll be back exactly.
In the meantime, the Bulls are going to have to continue to rely on the ends of their bench, as surprising as it seems in a Tom Thibodeau system.
Of course they're getting the bulk of their production from their top seven guys, the usual starting four, Nate Robinson and Kirk Hinrich (alternatively starting) and Taj Gibson. From there, we get down further on the food chain with guys who have actually been incredibly important to this Bulls team.
At the top of the heap sits Marco Belinelli, who joined the team as a bit of an afterthought in the offseason after bouncing around the league as a journeyman a bit.
Belinelli has been astounding this season, considering the low expectation for him. Sure, he's slightly inefficient at 41 percent shooting for the year, but he's been one of the few guys who can continually knock down three-pointers at .378 and he's great at throwing together strings of good games.
That's the first time in Belinelli's career he has scored 20 or more points in three straight games. #Bulls— K.C Johnson (@KCJHoop) March 9, 2013
When playing for a team that scores so inefficiently, Belinelli's 10 points per game become infinitely more important.
Even more amazing is the fact that Jimmy Butler has turned out to be a tremendous player for the Bulls after letting him ride the bench for the duration of last season.
Butler's got the defensive instincts and the hustle that the Bulls need from every player they put on the floor. More importantly, he's been an incredibly efficient scorer.
He doesn't shoot often but, when he gets the ball he's smart about it, he does whatever it takes to get to the bucket.
Beyond Belineilli and Butler, the Bulls are somehow getting production every once in a while out of the likes of Nazr Mohammed, Vladimir Radmanovic and even, most recently, Marquis Teague, who has logged 24-plus minutes in two of the team's last three contests.
Some of this has been from necessity, but Mohammed, Radmanovic and Teague know the roles they're expected to play and fill in nicely. Coming in for a few minutes at a time and playing a little defense, hitting some jumpers and giving the starters a break (when Tibodeau decides to give them their four minutes of rest) are all important facets for this team.
We're all aching to see Rose come back, but the fact that he's not on the floor doesn't mean we can't appreciate what the Bulls are doing with more-obsure players.