It’s been since 2011 when Derrick Rose was crowned America’s Basketball Sweetheart. Of course, that isn’t an official title, but that’s how it felt. Folks in Chicago had been waiting forever for their new savior, since Jordan – their messiah – departed from the game. After that 2010-2011 season where Rose one MVP of the league and the Bulls lost to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, the story became the same for two years with the Bulls. The story in 2012 was “If Rose didn’t get hurt in the playoffs, the Bulls could’ve gotten out of the East.” Then in 2013, the story was “If Rose didn’t get hurt, the Bulls could’ve gotten out of the East.”
Nobody is knocking Rose for his injuries; an ACL tear and a torn meniscus to be fair – but at full health and with seemingly a better supporting cast around him then he’s had in the past, there should be no more “should’ve” “could’ve” “would’ve” – things need to happen.
The addition of Pau Gasol to the Bulls has seemingly come just in time as Joakim Noah, after years of banging low, seems to not be as explosive as in years passed. Gasol is leading the team in field goal percentage, blocks and rebounds per game, while Jimmy Butler has stepped up and become the team’s star player. Yes, Jimmy Butler – not Derrick Rose. Butler leads the Bulls in points per game (20.3) and steals per game (1.8). Rose is the teams second leading scorer, but he still takes the most shots per game than any other player on the roster (17 to Butler’s 14.5) and is explosive to the hoop, at times.
In his last three games, Rose has shot 8 of 34. In two of those three games he scored only 8 points and in those two games half or more than half of those points came from the free throw line.
Even without Derrick Rose, coach Tom Thibodeau has gotten this Bulls team to the playoffs. Mostly on defense and ball movement. He relied on Nate Robinson when Derrick Rose wasn’t around. Nate Robinson isn’t even on an NBA roster this year (for some odd reason). During NBA free agency tours, where the power shifts become evident – Derrick Rose stays pretty reclusive about it. He isn’t one of the those guys to get all giddy about a new star coming into town, he wants to be all the star this team needs. Maybe he doesn’t think that’s selfish, he maybe thinks he’s being admirable, but in more obvious ways, that hurts the Chicago Bulls.
Maybe if he truly was the new savior of Chicago, it would be a different story.
The Eastern Conference is still a lot easier to come out of then the Western Conference, but what are the Bulls chances, realistically?
If we are all being honest with ourselves, the belief is that the Cavaliers will end up as the 2 or 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. It would take one hell of a losing streak for Atlanta to not be number 1 – which leaves the Bulls to fight for a number 4 or 5 spot with the likes of Toronto, Washington and (eh) Milwaukee. Toronto is legit in many people’s eyes and will fight to the end of the season for that two spot. It isn’t far fetched to see the Bulls come out of the first round, but it’s that second round that gets tricky.
The Bulls calling card is their defense and their star Derrick Rose, plays close to non-existent defense. Derrick Rose’s offense is explosive and exciting – but is rarely consistent. Tom Thibodeau doesn’t need anything flashy on offense to win, but he does need consistency.
If/when the Bulls make a second round exit this season, with a perfectly healthy Derrick Rose – what’s the excuse then? Maybe the way Derrick Rose helps bring the championship back to Chicago is via him getting traded. Derrick Rose can be Derrick Rose somewhere else, while the Bulls get more consistent play that can bring them closer to the championship their fans think is so close to attaining.
Editor’s Note: This article was posted a few hours before Derrick Rose suffered a torn meniscus. In doing so, Rose is out for the remainder of the season and according to what I just wrote – one could say one of three things: A) It’s a blessing in disguise (although that’s mean); B) I kind-of called it and C) It’s time to get Nate Robinson on the phone.