How the Chicago Bulls Must Adjust Their Game to Derrick Rose's Return
According to an ESPNChicago.com report, Chicago Bulls’ guard Derrick Rose probably will not return for postseason play. It is huge news that did not particularly stun Bulls’ fans. Although there were faint hopes of Rose playing before training camp begins next season, the mere thought of seeing him on the basketball court now would be a sight for sore eyes.
If Derrick Rose were to make his season debut in the playoffs, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau would have some adjustments to make. How would his return affect the rest of his team?
Thibodeau's words (via ESPNChicago.com) with reporters echoed a final gasp of optimism.
He's most likely out but you never know. The playoffs are stretched out, too, so you have to factor that in. So who knows another week from now where he is? You always want to leave that possibility open.
The notion that a few players would have to completely alter their games is far-fetched, yet a few changes must happen.
Looking at the Bulls roster from top-to-bottom, making a case for adjustments for certain players is nonsensical. There are a couple of players who did not enter games without Rose, yet his return could help them. For a couple of players, a Derrick Rose comeback means very little.
Players such as Vladimir Radmanovic and Marquis Teague fit both descriptions. Which players, along with the others who rarely see any playing time, would be affected?
The stretch-four has only appeared in 25 games, making little impact on the team. In many respects, it was a wasted signing. He perhaps would not be on the roster had Rose been healthy all season.
The sharpshooter has struggled with his shot since being a midseason pickup by the Bulls. With Rose healthy and playing, Cook would receive better looks on the perimeter, if Thibodeau would play him that is.
After signing two 10-day contracts, the Bulls decided to keep Thomas for the remainder of the season, and according to RealGM.com, it might turn into a two-year deal. With Rose, Thomas would have a veteran to learn from. Perhaps his athleticism would be unleashed.
As expected, the rookie point guard did not receive a ton of playing time during the season. That was done by design. Teague would not have any adjustments to make with Rose reinserted in the active roster, but he would benefit from watching how Rose handles himself during in-game situations. That’s a plus.
Nazr Mohammad was added to the team to fill a void at the backup center spot. He replaced Omer Asik, who signed with the Houston Rockets. What he brings to the Bulls is rebounding and tough interior defense.
Without Derrick Rose, Mohammad did not play very much, until injuries limited Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson.
In the 63 games he appeared in, Mohammad averaged 2.6 PPG and 3.1 RPG in 11 minutes.
It is hard to imagine that Mohammad would have to make any adjustments per a return by Derrick Rose.
My, my how the mighty have fallen. Richard Hamilton was supposed to be a short-term solution at the shooting guard position. Injuries have turned his signing into a disaster.
When he and Rose were healthy at the same time, the ball-movement was exceptional. The backcourt tandem played with great understanding of each other’s games. Rose knew where Hamilton wanted the ball and vice-versa.
Fans could expect the same thing if Rose returned, crisp passing and floor spacing.
Without Rose, Hamilton did not perform as he would normally. The Richard Hamilton that Bulls' fans came to expect ran off screens well. Instead, this season, they saw him handle the ball more, as the team looked for anyone to facilitate the offense.
Probably no player on the Bulls would have as many adjustments to make as Nate Robinson. He has become one of the pleasant surprises of the season for the team.
The shooting guard in a smallish point guard’s body is arguably the Bulls MVP in the second half of the year. His timely scoring and his energetic playing style led the Bulls to several wins. He has become a hit with the fans as a result.
Robinson’s minutes would take a ginormous decline if Rose were able to play. If he does not play, he could not possibly make much of an impact on the floor. There are two things that would work against him. His shot selection can at times be erratic, and his height leaves him as a defensive liability on the floor.
Those two deficiencies would surely force Coach Thibodeau to think twice if he has another option.
Simply put, a healthy Derrick Rose means that fans do not get to appreciate Nate Robinson the way that they have.
As much as Robinson stands to lose if Rose were healthy, a player like Marco Belinelli stands to gain.
The multifaceted guard enjoyed the best season of his career with the Bulls. Belinelli played well off the ball regardless who the point guard was. If it were Derrick Rose finding him for shots, Belinelli perhaps would have a higher scoring average than 9.6 this season.
Casual Bulls fans did not know who Belinelli was, but as they soon found out, he can shoot, dribble and pass, and when he is engaged, he can defend.
The presence of Rose would allow Belinelli space to take easier shots, as opponents must key in on the former MVP.
Guards Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson were unable to take full advantage of Taj Gibson’s ability to play above the rim.
Hinrich does not attack the basket often, and at 5’9”, Robinson’s court vision is hampered—hence one of the key reasons Gibson was not as effective near the basket as he has been in previous seasons.
Derrick Rose, on the other hand, is more of a pick-and-roll type of point guard, who forces opposing teams to double-team him.
This has freed Gibson up in the past when he was the screener, and it would work today.
The biggest adjustment that Gibson would have to make is where he catches the ball and when he takes the shot. His timing appeared to be off for much of the season. Rose throwing him the passes would change things.
If Rose came back, things would change for Kirk Hinrich. He would lose his starting job if that were to happen.
Hinrich has performed admirably well in 60 games, as the Bulls were 38-22 when he was healthy.
The adjustment for Hinrich would be him alternating between both guard positions. As a backup to Rose, Hinrich gives the Bulls a solid playmaker coming off the bench. Hinrich also would spend plenty of time at the backup 2-guard spot. He improves the Bulls in this capacity with his defense and decision-making.
Currently, the Bulls are getting a glimpse of Jimmy Butler as a possible candidate to become the starting 2-guard of the future.
On the defensive end, he is already a prime-time player. He locks down on his opponent and disrupts them.
Offensively, Butler still has to work on his jump shot, a clear adjustment that must be made to play with Rose.
Rose likes to have the ball in his hands while his teammates move around the basketball court. If a teammate is open, like most point guards of his caliber, he will find you. Butler’s adjustment must come with making the open basket.
Butler making shots and running the floor would be a sight to see. And with Rose running the show, Butler has to be ready, as his number will get called.
Carlos Boozer has stepped up with Derrick Rose out. Unfortunately, he will take a step back once Rose returns.
In a perfect world, the Bulls’ offense would be inside-out. Rose would pass Boozer the ball in the post, allowing him to draw the defense’s attention. Boozer would then pass the ball back out to Rose or to another perimeter player.
It will not work that way when Rose plays again.
Boozer will have to remain active in and out the paint while demanding the ball. This is something that he has not done in his three seasons with the Bulls. But if he wants to maintain his current level of play, this adjustment must be made.
Luol Deng has played with Derrick Rose for four seasons. He knows how to play with the Chicago native. If there are any adjustments that have to be made, it will be to ramp up his aggressiveness.
Deng has the tendency to stay in the corner, wait for the pass and take a long-range shot. This has worked in the past, but Rose will need help.
Defensively, it will be business as usual for Deng. He is a great defender with or without Rose. His offense is where the changes must happen.
Time has come for Deng to use his size advantage and join Boozer in the post. Doing so will make him a recipient of Rose’s passes more often.
Despite the injuries that plagued Joakim Noah in the last two months of the season, with Rose out, he developed into a solid player offensively. Aside from his field-goal shooting, Noah improved in every offensive statistic.
This included his assist totals, which went from 2.5 APG and spiked to 4.0 APG. The jump is an indicator that not only was Noah looking to pick up the slack in scoring, averaging a career high of 11.9 PPG, but he was setting his teammates up as well.
Things will slightly change when Rose plays once again, as Noah will not be needed to make plays as much as he has. He must become a complete player in terms of how he scores.
Noah’s jump shot has improved immensely, making him a clear option for the pick-and-pop plays that the Bulls run with Boozer. If Noah can continue to work on his ball-handling and court vision, he will make the adjustment in terms of being a triple-threat player on offense: passer, driver and shooter.