The Chicago Bulls has somehow have managed to stay among the Eastern Conference’s top eight teams despite not having former MVP Derrick Rose available for the entire season, mainly with heart and great defense. But now that the season is in it’s final trimester, the Bulls deficiencies are beginning to show as they are struggling to consistently score the basketball without Rose.
Chicago lacks a clear-cut go to player with Rose out of the lineup. While the Bulls do have solid role players and a couple all-stars, none of those players are capable of carrying an offense for extended periods of time. Small forward Luol Deng leads the Bulls in scoring with 16.2 points per game, but he is shooting only .422 from the field, well below his career mark of .461.
Joakim Noah — who is the heart and soul of the Bulls team — and Carlos Boozer have also been inconsistent this season, with Boozer unable to elevate his play in Rose’s absence and Noah giving all his limited scoring ability can, which isn’t much. Back up point guard Nate Robinson has had a few big games here and there, but the Bulls can’t rely on his erratic shooting to pull them through the final month of the season.
Much of the Bulls decline can be attributed to the high rate of minutes head coach Tom Thibodeau has played their best players. Deng is playing over 39 minutes a game, with Noah not far behind at around 38 minutes. The Bulls have expended so much energy just to stick around playoff contention that they appear to be running out of steam.
The Bulls could benefit from a Derrick Rose return over the final month, but that would be a waste with their playoff fate all but decided. The Bulls don’t have the energy or offensive firepower to contend with the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers, so it may be best for them to coast through the rest of the season and gear up for Rose’s return for 2013-2014.