Chicago Bulls’ point guard and reigning MVP Derrick Rose has missed 15 games so far this season. During that stretch the Bulls have gone 11-4. The Bulls are one of the best team’s in the NBA and have amassed a league best 39-10 record. Despite Rose being injured the Bulls have been finding ways to win and in this lockout season their success has been quite impressive. Furthermore, if there is any silver lining with Rose’s injury it is that the Bulls are learning how to win without Rose. Here are some reasons why the Bulls have been able to win without Derrick Rose:
1. Bench Mob: Probably the main reason why the Bulls have had so much success this season is because of the production they have been getting from their bench. To put it simply: other guys are stepping up! I think it is safe to say that the Bulls have the best bench in the NBA. What other team can have their third string point guard (John Lucas III by the way) come in and score 24 points against the Miami Heat and secure the victory? Only the Bulls have that kind of depth. Furthermore, the “bench mob“, as they have come to be known, are only gaining confidence each game they win without Rose. Every player on the Bulls bench can start if needed and they always deliver no matter how many minutes they play. It is such a luxury for the Bulls to have guys like Taj Gibson and C.J. Watson who bring leadership off the bench, or Ronnie Brewer and Jimmy Butler who can come in and give great play especially on the defensive end. I haven’t forgotten about Kyle Korver and how he is able to knock down 2 or more 3-pointers on any given night. What makes the Bulls’ bench so great is that everyone knows their role and they are like intricate puzzle pieces that fit perfectly together.
2. Luol Deng and Joakim Noah: Luol Deng and Joakim Noah are the Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman to Rose’s Michael Jordan. I think you know what I am trying to say here, besides Rose these two guys are the most important players to the Bulls. Deng has a calm style of play and can always come in and get the job done. If Deng needs to score he will score, if he needs to play defense he will guard the opposing team’s best player. Deng is one of the leaders of this Bulls team and as he goes so do the Bulls, especially when Rose has been out with injury. Furthermore, it is Deng’s all-around skill set and versatility that makes him so valuable to the Bulls and with Deng on the court Rose can rest easy knowing that the Bulls can win without him.
Joakim Noah gives this Bulls team high energy every time he steps on the floor and I’m not sure if there is any center in the league that plays with his level of intensity. Noah is another player who will do whatever he has to do to help his team win. Noah is a great rebounder and shot blocker and is the anchor to the Bulls’ great defense. Furthermore, Noah is fearless and has proven he can be quite the playmaker as he is one of the best passing big men in the league. Noah just brings it every night and really compliments Rose and Deng. He is another leader for this Bulls’ team and his energy and hustle is contagious; with Rose out Noah has contributed immensely to the success the Bulls have been having. Deng and Noah are very much like Pippen and Rodman and just like Jordan could not win without those guys Rose cannot win without Deng and Noah.
3. Tom Thibodeau: The reigning coach of the year is one of the best coaches in the NBA. Thibodeau is a workaholic and is constantly watching film to prepare for the next opponent. Thibodeau is the Bulls’ fearless leader who has this “I don’t care who we are playing, if we rebound and play defense we always have a chance” philosophy about him and the Bulls players really respond to that. What makes Thibodeau such a great coach is that he believes in every one of his players; to him it doesn’t matter if Rose is not playing he knows the next guy will step up. Thibodeau instills confidence in his players and that is exactly what a coach should do. Furthermore, Thibodeau commands the respect of not only his team but other teams in the NBA, yet he is very humble and the only thing he cares about is winning. Thibodeau is all about defense and he has helped shape the Bulls’ identity. You know what you are going to get from a Thibodeau coached team and opposing teams are usually in for a long night when they play against the Bulls. Thibodeau is the greatest Bulls’ coach since Phil Jackson and if he can get the Bulls a few more championships he could go down as the best Bulls coach ever.
4. Defense: The Bulls arguably have the best defense in the NBA and they bring it every night on the defensive end. This season the Bulls are allowing teams to score an average of 88.49 points a game good enough for second best in the NBA. In addition to holding teams to under 90 points a night the Bulls also own the highest point differential in the NBA with +9.06; proving that their defense is what ignites their offense. Championship teams are built on the foundation of defense and if the Bulls keep playing such great defense they could have a shot at winning a title. With Rose being out the Bulls are losing about 22 points a night but other guys are stepping up and more importantly they are able to win without him. For this team it all starts with defense, the true trademark of their team and it should take them very far.
5. Team Chemistry: Having great team chemistry is crucial for a team that is trying to win a championship. I know people say that team chemistry does not matter all that much but if you look at the most recent champions the teams all had great team chemistry. Teams win championships, not individuals. Rose knows that he cannot do it all by himself and he is more than willing to be a team player; he is a true superstar. The Bulls have great team chemistry because they do the little things like make the extra pass or even cheering for their teammates on the sidelines, those things matter a lot. Furthermore, each and every player on the team believes in one another and they trust each other so much. Also, Thibodeau and his coaching staff believe in their players and what their team can accomplish. When a team has great team chemistry like the Bulls do it is very special and it is a true staple of a championship team.