With the tragic knee injury suffered by last season’s MVP and Chicago Bulls superstar, Derrick Rose, it looks like their chances of winning a title are bleak at best. But don’t tell them that, as it is not in the Bulls to give up and you can count on every player stepping up their games and giving 100 percent until the final buzzer. A Rose-less Bulls team is still much better than the 76ers and they should beat them handily, but round 2 and beyond is a different story. Luckily for the Bulls, they have been in this situation for much of the season as Rose missed 28 games and they were a very respectable 18-9 without him. Simply, the Bulls know how to win without their star player and they will fight for every game, every minute and every trip down the court. The Bulls are not the kind of team to throw in the towel and because of the team’s character, coaching, rebounding, depth and defense, it is impossible to count them out. Their game plan will obviously need to be retooled, but with the right strategy and mindset there is no telling how far these Bulls can go in the playoffs.
With Rose gone, the Bulls have lost their first option on offense and their go to player in the clutch, so their secondary offensive options must to step up. Richard Hamilton, Luol Deng and Carlos Boozers may not be ideal first options for the Bulls, but if each player picks up a larger share of the offensive responsibilities, the Bulls can overcome the loss of Derrick Rose. Each player brings a completely different set of skills to the table, Boozer with his low post game and toughness, Deng with his complete offensive skill set and Hamilton with his mid range game. The problem is that not one of these players are adept at creating their own shot or creating for others, which means that their point guards, CJ Watson and John Lucas III, must become creators. Both players are incredibly gifted shooters and scorers and can create their own shot, but the team does not need big scoring numbers from them. The Bulls need them to distribute and create for others, as no other Bulls player can do this consistently. Rose was not only their top scoring option, but the player who set up the entire offense. Neither Lucas nor Watson are true pass-first lead guards, but for the Bulls to win they must distribute first and foremost. Luckily for the Bulls, center Joakim Noah is arguably the best passing big man in the NBA and the team can run the offense through him at times, but for prolonged success, the point guards must\distribute and do it consistently.
The Bulls may have lost their best offensive player, but luckily, they still have their defense behind them, which may be the best in the NBA. Rose is a solid defender, but his loss will not affect the Bulls’ defense. The team’s main reason for past Rose-less success was their smothering defense, as Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Omer Asik, Luol Deng and Ronnie Brewer are All-NBA-Defensive Team caliber players. It is safe to say that the defense is in very capable hands and if the team plays up to their defensive talent, then they have an excellent chance to advance deep into the playoffs.
The Bulls are the top rebounding team in the NBA, but also the top offensive rebounding team, which will assure extra possessions, which will be needed, as without Rose, the Bulls will need every second chance possible on offense. Along with rebounding and defense, the team will also need to keep up their energy level and must out hustle their adversaries at all times. Luckily this is not too difficult for them as they have an emotional leader in Joakim Noah on the court and fiery coach, Tom Thibodeau on the bench, who both push the team to higher levels. A Rose-less Bulls squad may not be the most talented team, but with their defense, rebounding and constant energy, they are able to beat any team on any day. If they continue playing to their strengths, there is no telling how far they can go.
The final key to playoff success for Chicago, will be their mindset/mentality. They have been dealt a vital blow and on the surface their championship hopes seem to have disappeared, but the players cannot give into self-pity and doubt and they must continue to play the way they have all year long. They have and can win without Rose and they must go into every game with that knowledge.