The Chicago Bulls finished off one of their more unusual seasons in 2012-13, which ended up in a Game 5 loss in the conference semifinals to the defending champions, the Miami Heat. Although they weren't really expected to contend for the championship last year, they have regrouped and revamped their roster this year to hopefully compete, as Derrick Rose makes his way back into the lineup.
The Bulls have been known to be cautious with their offseason moves, and this offseason was no exception. The only new player they signed in free agency was Mike Dunleavy Jr. They also grabbed athletic small forward Tony Snell with the 20th pick in the draft and power forward Erik Murphy with the 49th pick, but that's about it.
The team waived Richard Hamilton (via ESPN), saw Marco Belinelli sign with the San Antonio Spurs and have yet to re-sign Nate Robinson to another deal, which they probably won't, anyway. Belinelli and Robinson were major contributors in the Bulls' improbable playoff run last year, but Belinelli is already gone, and it's highly unlikely Robinson will get another offer.
Best Case Scenario
For next season, the best case scenario would have to start with everybody staying relatively healthy throughout the year and playing the best team basketball that they can.
The Bulls, who finished 24th in the league in offensive efficiency last season (per Hollinger's Team Statistics), will definitely see their offense become much more fluid and organized with their superstar point guard returning at the beginning of the season.
Rose will not suffer any major injuries throughout the entire season and regain his MVP form after an extended period of rehabilitation and practice. He will make an impact as soon as he steps on the floor at the beginning of next season, and he won't need to work his way back into shape.
The rest of the team's core consisting of Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah and Jimmy Butler will all play the best basketball of their respective careers. Butler, who was the starting shooting guard for the last 11 games of the regular season last season, will have a career season and help propel the Bulls to the next level.
Additionally, recent All-Stars Deng and Noah will maintain their All-Star-level performances next season, and the Bulls will have three players invited to the 2014 NBA All-Star Game.
The Bulls will finish the regular season with the best record in the Eastern Conference and dominate their way to the Eastern Conference Finals. After that, they will fight a hard, grueling series against the Miami Heat, and whichever team plays with more heart and passion will end up taking Game 7 and moving on to the finals.
At the end of their playoff run, the Bulls will once again be recognized as an elite powerhouse team, and Rose will regain his status as one of the best players in the league.
Worst Case Scenario
The worst case scenario would start with the core group of players unable to remain healthy throughout the regular season. Rose returns to the court and is nowhere near as explosive as he once was prior to the ACL injury, and Deng, Boozer and Noah suffer various injuries throughout the season and limp into the playoffs once again.
The "bench mob," which were always an integral part of the Bulls' success, isn't as scrappy and hard-working as the bench players in the previous few seasons. The loss of Belinelli and Robinson was too much for the team to overcome and the Bulls' bench ended up being one of the worst in the league.
Rose will get selected to participate in the All-Star game yet again, but Deng, Boozer and Noah all have a mediocre and inconsistent season due to the myriad of injuries that they will all suffer. Butler, who will secure the starting shooting guard role, will not improve as much as everyone thinks. He will still be hard-working and a defensive stalwart, but his jumper and overall offensive abilities do not develop further.
When the playoffs start, the Bulls will grab the fourth seed in the East behind the Heat, Indiana Pacers and Brooklyn Nets. After passing the first round, the Bulls stumble against the Heat in the second round once again and lose.
After a season that saw their franchise player—Rose—unable to play at the same intensity and aggressiveness that he displayed prior to his injury, the organization questions if they should really keep building the team around Rose.
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