2012/13 NBA season previews: Chicago Bulls
It was all going so well for the Chicago Bulls last season. They once again clinched top spot in the Eastern Conference.
They had signed Rip Hamilton to take scoring pressure off league MVP Derrick Rose. And their league-leading defence was as stingy as ever. Everyone was looking forward to a return match-up with the Miami Heat in the Conference Finals.
Then, in one shocking turn of events at the end of their opening play-off game, their season fell apart.
Rose tore his anterior cruciate ligament in the closing seconds of a game that was practically already won, and the Bulls hopes of championship evaporated. Worse still, with such a serious injury, their hopes for this season may have been dashed as well.
Three biggest questions for the Bulls in 2012/13:
When will Derrick Rose be back?
A few weeks ago, the media was told that Rose was ahead of schedule with his recovery. However, considering no one actually knew what that schedule looked like, that vague description only served to tease Bulls fans into thinking that Rose might be making a miraculous early comeback.
Yet, it appears that simply won’t be happening.
The latest reports from just a few days ago, straight from Rose himself, suggest the former league MVP may miss the entire 2012/13 NBA season.
If that’s the case, it would be devastating news for Rose, the Bulls, their fans, and the entire NBA.
The best case scenario is Rose returning after the All-Star break, sometime in February. Yet, truth be told, even if he could make a return to the court this season, it would take him awhile to get back to the level of play he had reached before his injury.
Can the Bulls compete without Rose in the line-up?
I guess the answer depends on your definition of ‘compete’.
Kirk Hinrich is a handy replacement and has started in this league before. The Bulls still have plenty of talent, great team defence, a fantastic coach, and a loud and passionate fan-base. That will ensure the Bulls will remain competitive and win their fair share of games.
In fact, Rose missed a large chunk of the season last year, and the Bulls were still able to achieve an 18-9 record without their best player, so it’s not like they’re going to suddenly become the worst team in the league.
However, the goal for this club was not respectability, it was the title. And any hopes of winning the NBA championship without a less than 100% Rose are completely futile.
Is this therefore a lame duck season for Chicago?
Unfortunately for their fans, it essentially is.
The club needs to be realistic, and treat this entire season as chance to build for 2013/14.
That means the goals for this season are getting Rose healthy, giving younger players some on-court experience, and preparing the roster for Rose’s return.
Rose, when healthy, is one of the top five players in the league. That means his rehabilitation should be the primary focus for the team, not any irrelevant wins or token appearances from their superstar point guard.
Apart from giving younger players some experience, the Bulls also need to try to offload Carlos Boozer’s horrendous contract. It may prove hard finding a suitor for the power forward, but Boozer has worn out his welcome in the Windy City, and the club desperately needs the financial flexibility that ridding themselves of his large contract will provide.
Chicago Bulls Snapshot
- 50 wins, 16 losses
- Finished first in the Eastern Conference, and first in the Central Division
- Lost 4-1 to the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round
Statistical leaders in 2011/12:
Points: Derrick Rose (21.8 ppg)
Rebounds: Joakim Noah (9.8 rpg)
Assists: Derrick Rose (7.9 apg)
Kirk Hinrich, Vladimir Radmanovic, Marco Belinelli, Nate Robinson, Nazr Mohammed
Kyle Korver, Omer Asik, Ronnie Brewer, C.J. Watson
Career Record: 112 wins, 36 losses
Predicted finish in 2012/13:
- 6th in the Eastern Conference
- 2nd in the Central Division
- Lose in the first round of the playoffs
Images via nba.com/bulls
Ryan is an ex-representative basketballer who shot too much, and a (very) medium pace bowler. He's been with The Roar as an expert since February 2011, has written for the Seven Network and NBA Down Under, and been a regular on ABC radio. Ryan tweets from @RyanOak.
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