The Chicago Bulls have a ton of feel good stories over the course of the season — the emergence of Jimmy Butler, the spectacular play of D.J. Augustin and the MVP-like season out of Joakim Noah to name a few. However, the Bulls aren’t going to win a championship this season and probably weren’t going to win even if Derrick Rose was healthy this season.
After Rose tore his ACL in the 2012 NBA playoffs and missed the entire season the following year, many believed that the 2013-14 Bulls could return to the top of the standings with a healthy roster. But just ten games into the season, Rose was sidelined for the rest of the year once again after tearing his meniscus in his right knee.
What ensued after Rose’s injury would change the direction of the team and the Bulls season in general.
Chicago went 3-12 over their next 15 games after starting the season at 5-5. The Bulls were in desperate need of a backup point guard to relieve veteran Kirk Hinrich from logging major minutes at the position. Mike James was signed to a flurry of 10-day contracts but couldn’t string together any solid games. Then Marquis Teague tried his hand at the backup point guard spot, but he too proved he wasn’t ready for that role.
On Dec. 13, the Bulls signed their man Augustin and the rest is history. Three weeks later the Bulls would make another drastic move by trading their two-time All-Star Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The move was viewed as a way for the Bulls to stay under the luxury tax, but also as a way to tank games in order to improve their chances in the NBA Draft Lottery.
Instead, the Bulls rallied together as a team and have gone 23-10 since Jan. 1. Led by Noah and head coach Tom Thibideau, Chicago is currently in a dogfight with the Toronto Raptors for the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. And once again, expectations for the team are high in the Windy City.
However, the Bulls are still not considered contenders to win the championship, and they would not be even with a healthy Rose.
In the games that Rose did play this season, he averaged 15.9 points per game, 4.3 assists and 3.2 rebounds—all career-lows. Sure, Rose would have bumped up those averages if he was healthy, but there is no way he be close to his 2011 MVP statistics due to the minutes restrictions he would most certainly be on. Also, Augustin never would have been brought in by the team to be the third point guard behind Hinrich.
The trade of Deng more than likely never would have happened as well—hindering the growth of Butler and rookie forward Tony Snell. Mike Dunleavy is also playing better in the starting lineup for Deng. Although he is not a strong defender, Dunleavy’s ability to knock down an open three stretches the floor to start every game, which results in open lanes and easier baskets for the team.
Finally, a healthy Rose would take away from what Noah is currently doing for the team offensively. Noah is gaining recognition for his playmaking skills and is averaging close to five assists per game. Those assist numbers are usually unheard of for a center. Rose, an excellent playmaker as well, is best known for dominating the ball for a lengthy amount of the 24-second shot clock.
It’s difficult to tell how good the Bulls would’ve been with a healthy Rose. However, it’s safe to say the Bulls would still have difficulties trying to compete with the likes of the Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs for the championship.
Wally Jacobs is a Chicago Bulls writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @WJac1