Imagine how Derrick Rose's presence would change things for Chicago.
Rose's brother, Reggie, recently made some comments to the Chicago Tribune about a potential playoff return for his brother. It is clearly something that hasn't been entirely ruled out.
Can you imagine how the presence of Rose would alter the Eastern Conference outlook? Suddenly, a potential second-round matchup between Chicago and the Miami Heat would be full of intrigue.
A Rose return would certainly be unique, namely because he couldn't instantly play starter's minutes and expect to be his old self. He would at least have to ramp up for four or five games before logging heavy minutes.
Because of this, Rose would initially be a weapon on Chicago's bench, providing the second unit with a lot of scoring potency.
Yes, Nate Robinson is an offensive spark plug that has displayed some remarkable playoff heroics.
However, anybody who has watched Robinson on a consistent basis knows that "Bad Nate" appears as frequently as "Good Nate."
Rose isn't this type of volatile player, even if he's not fully himself. He would stabilize their "Bench Mob" through his basketball intellect and knack for finding penetration lanes.
He would also demand extra attention on the floor and enable more open shooters.
Robinson, in particular, could be one of those open shooters. The Bulls have recently played Kirk Hinrich and Robinson together, and it's certainly plausible that they'd put Rose and Robinson in the backcourt as well.
Rose could take the point guard reins while Nate Rob roams the wing, ready for a kick out on a Rose drive.
Another distinct positive to the addition of Rose is that the likelihood of an offensive drought dramatically diminishes.
The Rose-less Bulls have remained a stellar defensive team, but it's no secret that they often encounter offensive woes. Don't let the 142 points they notched in their thrilling Game 4, triple-overtime win fool you. They only averaged 93.2 points per game during the regular season, which was the second-to-worst tally in the league.
Their bench crew struggles regularly if Robinson isn't cashing jumpers. If he's having an off night, it could be a very rough stretch for Chicago offensively.
Rose would eliminate this problem.
His versatility gives them a difference-maker who can score at the snap of a finger, and he at least provides them with a guy who can bail them out on a bad possession and get to the free-throw line.
He would also create scoring opportunities for Taj Gibson and Nazr Mohammed, feeding them the ball when facing double-teams on his slashes to the rim.
Gibson and Mohammed would likely gather more offensive rebounds off of Rose's misses in the lane. His drives usually command an extra defender who will challenge his shot, which in turn leaves a big man without anybody blocking him out. Chicago's bigs are thus in prime position for an offensive board and putback.
Imagine if Rose played 20 minutes a game, running primarily with the bench while also contributing spot minutes with the top unit. This could help the Bulls go from a mere respectable team to a clear-cut contender.
Plus, Rose would slowly increase his playing time.
As he gains confidence and rhythm, he'd become more and more of a factor with not only the bench, but also the starters. It wouldn't be long before he would net minutes with Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng in the latter stages of games.
The bottom line is that Rose's return solidifies the Bulls' playing style in numerous manners. It would surely give their bench a potent playmaker, and more importantly, it would provide them with the superstar they need to compete against the league's best.
Any logic concluding that the Bulls are better without Rose, or that he would mess with their chemistry, is naive.
Yes, they're still a quality team without him and will likely even win their first-round series, but they can't compete against a team like the Miami Heat without any star power.
Rose gives them the star power they need to make dynamic plays in crucial situations. They still likely wouldn't be able to oust Miami, but their chances will surely be much better.
Whether starting or serving as a reserve, Rose's insertion into Chicago's rotation changes the feel of the Eastern Conference playoffs. He'd most definitely bolster their bench as soon as he puts on a uniform, and he'd sooner or later find himself generating game-changing production down the stretch of games.
And you could expect that type of production to come sooner rather than later.