We have all heard the old expression “there is no I in team.” A saying that reiterates that basketball is a team sport that takes a team effort to win. However, this saying has somewhat lost its place in Chicago this offseason as several fans and members of the local media have been fixated on the return of Derrick Rose. Derrick Rose is dominating the news in Chicago as the Bulls are ecstatic to have their star point guard back after missing the entire 2012-13 NBA season. However, in the saga of the Rose return, it seems as though many have forgotten that he is not the only Bulls player to have recovered from an injury this offseason.
Although they did not miss nearly as much time as Rose, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Kirk Hinrich and Taj Gibson each nursed an injury of their own this offseason. Despite the fact that several other key players will be reporting to training camp healthy for the Bulls, the overwhelming story is still the health of Derrick Rose. I understand that Rose is the clear-cut superstar of this Bulls team, but there is much more to this them than just Derrick Rose.
Without Rose, the Bulls still managed to secure the fifth best record in the Eastern Conference last season, thanks in large part to their defense. Chicago allowed the third fewest points per game last season. Their success on the defensive side of the ball was largely in part due to the play of Noah, Deng, Hinrich and Gibson. As I mentioned before, each of these players are returning to the Bulls this season 100 percent healthy after battling with injuries last season. In fact, Deng and Hinrich both missed the entire second round series of the playoffs last season when Chicago lost to the Miami Heat in five games.
Noah also had a monster season last year, which has been over shadowed by Rose’s return. During his breakout season last year in Rose’s absence, he averaged career highs in points, rebounds, blocks, steals, and minutes per game. Noah was also a front-runner to win Defensive Player of the Year last season before he was slowed down by plantar fasciitis. Noah was forced to 12 of Chicago’s last 15 games last season because of the pain in his foot. However, it has been reported that he is back to 100 percent and ready for another all-star caliber season. Not only was Noah the team’s defensive anchor last season, but Chicago ran their entire offense through him as well. However, with the return of Rose, Noah’s recovery has received little attention.
Although Bulls fans should be overwhelmed with joy that Derrick Rose is finally back this season, they should not forget about all the important contributors from last season who are also returning from injury. Although the Bulls had their backs against the wall last season while Rose was sidelined, they remained strong and focused and ended up advancing all the way to the second round of the playoffs. Yes, Rose is the best player on the Bulls, and yes his return means that Chicago is a legitimate championship contender this year, but it is important to remember that there will be several other contributors to this Bulls team other than Rose.