The NBA was not sure what to expect out of the Chicago Bulls in 2013. Now, the consensus was that the Bulls would hover around mediocrity until superstar Derrick Rose returned to the fold. Well, at 19-13 the Bulls are currently first in the Eastern Conferences Central division and have rattled off three in a row. In my mind, this Bulls supporting cast is better than the beloved “bench mob” they featured in 2012. Crunching the numbers and watching the games, this team has retooled after losing some vital bench players and are going to be scarier than ever once Rose returns.
I’m so sick of the argument that the Bulls should hold off on bringing Rose back this season. So let me get this straight, a team that is exceeding expectations and has improved in every phase of the game without their star doesn’t deserve him back? If he is unhealthy that is one thing, but the notion that this team isn’t worth the risk of bringing him back at all is unwarranted. Those who have tuned into Bulls games this season would know off the improvements made on the floor.
Lets begin in the backcourt with Rose’s replacements for the time being. Thus far Nate Robinson and Kirk Hinrich have shouldered the load and have produced in ways that both C.J Watson and Ronnie Brewer were not able to last season. In essence, Watson’s numbers were similar to Robinson’s this season however the latter has recorded fewer turnovers per game along with shooting 42% from the field as opposed to Watson’s 36.8% last season.
In addition, Joakim Noah is having a career season. There is not an offensive statistic that Noah has not improved upon since 2012, not to mention a spike in minutes by 8.5. Nearly doubling his assists per game stat will also benefit once Rose returns to a Bulls uniform. Although he has garnered plenty of headlines, Carlos Boozer has the same production from a season prior even with the numbers Noah has been putting up.
A Chicago Bulls rundown is not complete without a defensive exploration. Jimmy Butler is turning into one of the premiere defenders in the NBA, as he has shown that he can shut down even the most prolific scorers. Butler’s minutes have also doubled and his adjustment to the game in just his second year will only help Rose as the defensive end will be that much tighter.
All in all, the Bulls are in fantastic shape as the return of Derrick Rose becomes closer each and every day. While the Bulls have been formidable without Rose, imagine how great they will be with an MVP in their backcourt once again.