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NBA Chicago Bulls

Chicago Bulls: 5 Players Who Must Step Up For The 2013-14 Season

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5 Chicago Bulls Who Must Step Up For The 2013-14 Season

Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bulls were surprisingly a very solid team last season. Their former MVP point guard Derrick Rose sat out the entire season with a knee injury, and the team still reached the second round of the playoffs before running into the Miami Heat.

The Bulls were extremely impressive last season but simply lacked the firepower to compete with a team like Miami without Rose. Well, Rose is now back, looks strong and the Bulls seem to have the talent to compete with Miami in the East.

The only key contributors that do not return from last year are Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli. Mike Dunleavy was brought in by Chicago as a free agent and should help fill the void left by Belinelli. Robinson played huge for the Bulls down the stretch, but the return of Rose obviously makes up for the loss of Robinson.

Winning back-to-back NBA championships, Miami is obviously the team that everybody will be chasing in the Eastern Conference. The Indiana Pacers have established some impressive young talent and gave the Heat everything they could handle in the Eastern Conference Finals. Obviously, they are a team to watch out for as well, and do not forget about the Brooklyn Nets, who added a ton of talent this offseason and should be legitimate contenders. With the return of Rose to a good, experienced team, I think the Bulls have as good of a chance as anybody to knock off the Heat. To do so they obviously must bring their "A" game this season and get contributions throughout the roster. Here are 5 players who must step up their game for Chicago this season.

Daniel is a writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @D_Schmelzer, "Like" him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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5. Carlos Boozer

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Some would say that Carlos Boozer was a poor signing for the Bulls. Yes, he is overpaid and no he does not help you much on the defensive end of the court, but Boozer is a solid inside scorer, rebounds the ball very well and has a consistent mid-range jumper. Boozer is what he is at this stage in his career and that is a guy who can average 20 points and 10 rebounds. The Bulls need that kind of production to continue from Boozer this season if they wish to seriously compete.

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4. Jimmy Butler

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Jimmy Butler really came on strong last season. He is a good tough defender and is able to put the ball in the hoop. Butler has a nice ability to create his own shot and is a solid outside shooter. The Bulls have been looking for a two-guard to pair with Rose for sometime now, and it appears that Butler could be that guy. It will be very interesting to see how the two play together. If Butler continues to grow, he could help take this team to the next level.

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3. Luol Deng

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Luol Deng was huge for the Bulls during the regular season last year, making his first his first career All-Star game appearance and helping the Bulls fill the void of Rose. Unfortunately for Deng he missed some time down the stretch due to a wrist injury and even missed the last seven games of the playoffs due to a bad reaction to a spinal tap. Deng appears to be healthy, and the Bulls will surely need good production from him on both sides of the court to be competitive.

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2. Kirk Hinrich

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Nate Robinson received all the glory for filling in for Rose last season, and deservedly so. He was simply incredible for Chicago when they needed him the most in the playoffs. That being said, I do not think Kirk Hinrich received enough credit for his part in replacing the former MVP. Hinrich was the starting point guard for the Bulls most of last season, and he was a solid veteran presence for the team throughout the year. At his advanced age, Hinrich is not going to fill the stat sheet, but he is a guy that you can count on with the ball in his hands at any time. Also, Hinrich does a nice job on the defensive end of the court. If Rose struggles to come back strong or simply needs a break, Hinrich will have to step up once again.

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1. Derrick Rose

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

There is no doubt about it. Rose is the most important member of this Bulls team, and they will go as far as he will take them. He is simply one of the most athletic and explosive players in the NBA, and he makes everybody around him better. Rose has looked strong so far this preseason and even claims to have added five inches on his vertical leap. If Rose has another MVP caliber season, the sky is the limit for Chicago.