The Chicago Bulls have persevered through this season with Derrick Rose‘s absence all season. By beating the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, they proved that finishing 45-37 in the regular season was largely a product of the other injuries they have had to deal with this season. They have shown the ability to compete with the Miami Heat, and while they won’t likely win their second round series with the defending champs, they have a nice foundation for next season.
Last off-season the Bulls signed a lot of players to veteran’s minimum, one-year deals. This includes Nate Robinson, who has played so well that he should probably earn a hefty contract, as well as Nazr Mohammed and Marco Belinelli, who may both be re-signed. Belinelli will be a key reserve next season for his ability to create plays for others as well as himself. The Bulls also are fortunate enough to get Kirk Hinrich for at least one more season, whose value to this offense is shown when he is off the floor.
This past season has shown the Bulls’ deficiencies on offense without Derrick Rose on the court. Carlos Boozer‘s mid-range jump-shot took a hit in efficiency this season without Rose, as well as Joakim Noah‘s and Luol Deng‘s offensive games. This is why the Bulls’ quest for a title next season all starts with Rose returning. He will open up things for everyone on the roster.
With a starting five of Rose, Jimmy Butler, Deng, Boozer and Noah, as well as a solid bench of Hinrich, Belinelli, Taj Gibson, Marquis Teague, and either Mohammed or another veteran big man, this team can get back to the same level they were at before Rose’s ACL tear. Hinrich can spend time on the floor with or without Rose due to his versatility as a shooter and passer. Belinelli looks like a guy who can play with Rose as well and may be better suited for the role Kyle Korver played in his time here. Butler has really shown his ability to slash, drive and finish with everyone’s injuries, and this will also help fill the hole at the shooting guard spot that seemed to be there from these Rose-led teams of the 2010-2011 and 2011-12 seasons.
With the same core of players as well as an impressive playoff run from this year’s team, the Bulls seemed poised to get back to the upper-echelon of NBA teams next season.