This summer for the Chicago Bulls has been all about the gloom and doom.
To a certain extent, that’s understandable. Derrick Rose won’t likely see the court until at least January, while there are some that have ruled his entire season out. While I don’t think anyone should expect to wait until 2013-14 to see Rose, it’s important to be patient with his injury.
Whether or not Rose will see the court before, during, or after January remains to be seen. What can be expected, however, is that this Bulls squad will be much better than many are expecting.
Along with the injury to Rose, the Bulls saw more than one member of their “bench mob” walk this summer. Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer are gone, along with C.J. Watson. The Bulls also (wisely) let Omer Asik walk via free agency. While they were important pieces of the Bulls’ ability to grab the no. 1 seed in consecutive years, they’re still bench players. Which means that they are replaceable.
Brewer, in particular, is a guy who won’t be missed before long. He was a nice piece of this roster, but Jimmy Butler showed flashes of being a solid player last season, and should be better in the long term. Marco Belinelli could be an improvement over Korver, given his ability to create his own shot.
The new mix at point guard will be fun to watch. Kirk Hinrich may not be at the same level that Watson was able to bring to the table for much of 2011-12, but is still a serviceable veteran presence there. He’ll be joined by rookie Marques Teague and Nate Robinson in the back court.
While it’s easy to speculate on the new additions, you have to look at what the Bulls still have in place. Luol Deng and Joakim Noah are back, and at least one of them has declared himself completely healthy. Taj Gibson will continue to push Carlos Boozer for minutes, which should only help the performance of both of them.
All in all, this is still a very solid ballclub. They played a lot without Rose last year and still managed to grab the no. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. While we shouldn’t expect them to do the same without Rose for the first few months, they can still be very successful, for two main reasons.
The first is that they play in the East. It’s not exactly the strong side of the league. That will allow them to hang in with the elite teams in the standings. Though another top seed isn’t to be expected.
The other is Tom Thibodeau. Thibs is a defensive minded coach and has his players bringing everything to the court every night. He’s coming off of his new four-year extension, meaning that potential distraction is gone. He’s one of the premier coaches in the league and we’ll see why next season.
If the bench comes together as it looks like it could, it should be better than last the bench mob of the past few seasons. If Deng is healthy and Boozer comes to play, this is still a team to be reckoned with.
The Bulls may not contend for a title this season. Even when Rose returns, who knows how long it could take before he’s back to full strength. But it’s not time to throw in the towel on this team just yet. They’re going to be an intriguing, and potentially fun, group to watch in 2012-2013.