The Chicago Bulls begin preseason play on Saturday, Oct. 5 on the road against the Indiana Pacers. The matchup will have much more fanfare surrounding it than a traditional exhibition contest, as it is set to feature the much-anticipated return of Derrick Rose.
Chicago’s superstar point guard has been out of the lineup for 18 months and is finally set to lace up his sneakers, don his No. 1 jersey and get back on the hardwood for a somewhat meaningful hoops contest.
Rose, the 2011 NBA MVP, has the weight of an entire city’s expectations, hopes and dreams foisted squarely upon his shoulders heading into the upcoming campaign.
He’s going to need to be great from the get-go, meaning he’ll need to shake any rust off in a hurry. Even a mediocre preseason will have the pundits doubting whether or not he’ll ever be the same after the infamous ACL tear at the end of Chicago’s first playoff game in 2012.
However, Rose can’t do it all alone. There are 14 other players under contract and each one will have to play an important role if the Bulls are to have a realistic chance of overthrowing the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference.
Key contributors like Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer all must elevate their games. Role players such as Kirk Hinrich, Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler have to be great. Even potential end-of-the-bench guys like Mike James and Dexter Pittman are preparing to be heavily scrutinized over the next month.
For those fringe talents, each performance could be the difference between making the roster or being out of a job during the 2013-14 season.
Let’s take a look at every upcoming contest on the slate. As the month drags on, make sure you check back for results and analysis from each game, breaking news concerning the organization and much more.