As a fan, does the Bulls' postseason performance satisfy you?
When the season is finalized, we all want our team hoisting a championship. Knowing that the teams we root for are flawed, it is okay to assess what improvements can be made.
One of the few playoff teams that NBA observers believe has a slight chance to unseat the Heat are the Bulls.
The Bulls are an incomplete team that is missing their best player, Derrick Rose.
Even with Rose, the Bulls have issues that must be solved in the offseason. One of those problems includes establishing a respectable backup to the former MVP.
Who Will Back up Derrick Rose?
Barring a change of heart or a second serious injury, Derrick Rose will suit up to play when the 2013-14 NBA season begins. When he does, who will be his understudy?
As you know, an understudy is a vital role in every walk of life. The Bulls will need a capable reserve just in case Rose gets injured once more. He must be a player that can alleviate the pressure on a team which relies on its star.
During the previous offseason, the Bulls signed Kirk Hinrich and drafted 19-year-old Marquis Teague out of Kentucky. Neither player was expected to replace Rose’s output. The expectations were that they would play reasonable basketball. Even as a collective, they failed to come close to what Rose can do on the floor.
Hinrich was steady while Teague saw minimal playing time. Next season, the Bulls will either need more production from both players or they'll take a look like elsewhere for a potential backup point guard who can spell Rose in some spot minutes.
The ideal backup to Rose should be Hinrich, but the Bulls may want him to play more off the ball next season. If that happens, the team must look for an inexpensive free agent to take on the role as the primary backup point guard—that is, until Teague can prove that he is ready for an expanded role.
The Need for More Size in the Frontcourt
Backup point guard is not the only position that must be addressed; the Bulls also need a backup center.
Nazr Mohammed has played good basketball during the latter stages of the season. It is a far cry from how he started the year. The 64 points that he scored in April is more than he scored in the months of December, January and February combined (48 points scored).
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau placed Mohammed into action after a plantar fasciitis injury sidelined starter Joakim Noah. Once he received a steady dose of minutes, Mohammed provided the Bulls with interior toughness.
Despite the solid play of Mohammed, additional size is needed if the Bulls want to be considered a contender for a championship next season.
The Bulls need younger players who can back up Noah and starting power forward Carlos Boozer. As good as Mohammed has played, he will be 36 years old on September 5, and the Bulls must look for a younger option.
They can find a backup center in the upcoming NBA draft as there will be a few frontcourt players that the Bulls can choose from, provided they decide on addressing that need.
Another possibility would be the organization asking power forward Taj Gibson to add 10 to 15 pounds to his frame in order to play more minutes at center. If he adds more weight and second-year forward Malcolm Thomas can develop under Thibodeau’s tutelage, this issue will be solved.
It should not stop the Bulls from adding to their frontcourt at some point in the draft.
Identifying a No. 2 Option on Offense
Fans keep saying that the Bulls need a second star. Have you watched the Bulls lately?
Do they struggle to score? Absolutely they do. The addition of a second star is not what the Bulls need. They already have a second star in Joakim Noah.
In fact, if Rose were healthy this season, the Bulls would have possibly had three players selected to the NBA All-Star team. Rose, Noah and Luol Deng are a nice nucleus. Add to the mix Carlos Boozer and Jimmy Butler, and you have a strong starting five.
In the NBA, teams need at least two stars to compete for championships, and the Bulls meet that number with the emergence of Noah, who is one of the top five centers in the NBA.
Having the stars isn’t the problem for the Bulls; it is identifying who is the second scoring option.
During the year, Deng led the team in scoring as he averaged 16.5 points per game. He is not an ideal option for the second scorer. Boozer, on the other hand, is.
Boozer led the Eastern Conference with 44 double-doubles in the regular season. In the process, he proved that he is still one of the NBA’s premier low-post scorers. He finally found his niche in the Bulls offense.
In the short-term, the Bulls will be able to rely on a one-two punch of Rose and Boozer, while searching for a long-term solution.
That solution will not come in the draft, nor will it come in free agency; it must come via trade. The Bulls management will have to do something that they have been reluctant to do for years—trade away one of their core players in hopes of acquiring a second option.
If that cannot happen, the Bulls should look into ways to retain Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli. Re-signing one or both players will allow the team to go with a second-option-by-committee approach. Doing so will buy the franchise a little bit of time while they continue to seek out a reliable scoring option. It’s their most visible issue.