With the 2013-14 NBA regular season just about wrapped up, we do some looking back at what might have been for the Chicago Bulls, which will undoubtedly lead us to some what-could-have-been statements in a few weeks. Yes, the Bulls are in the playoffs as the likely No. 4 seed, but what if they had pulled the trigger on that Carmelo Anthony deal before the trade deadline? We might be talking about them a lot differently heading into the 2014 NBA playoffs.
This season, the Bulls boasted the NBA’s best defense, giving up less than 92 points per game, on average. However, Chicago’s offense floundered with Derrick Rose missing a second straight season with a knee problem, as the team managed less than 94 points per game, on average, the lowest in the NBA. Think that wouldn’t have been different with Melo in the lineup to replace the offense lost during Rose’s absence? You’re nuts.
Granted, having Melo on the floor would have undoubtedly made the Bulls’ stellar defense a little less stellar, but his incredible offensive production would have helped made Chicago a more balanced team, which is critical at this time of the year. Heading into the playoffs with a likely first-round matchup against the red-hot Brooklyn Nets and then a second-round showdown with the No. 1 seed Indiana Pacers, the Bulls need all the help they can get after failing to score enough points without Rose to advance in last year’s postseason.
There’s no doubt the Bulls will be able to contend with the Nets defensively, but even if they hold their opponents to the low 90s, they still can’t win if they’re scoring in the 80s. If Rose were healthy, that wouldn’t really be a problem or a concern, but he’s not healthy and that means Chicago is in trouble as the playoffs begin this weekend.
With Melo, the Bulls wouldn’t have to wonder who would take the last shot in a critical contest and his presence on the floor would open up an offense that was extremely fluid with Rose but somewhat stagnant without him. With the Pacers and Miami Heat both struggling right now, the Bulls would be in prime position to make a run at the NBA Finals with an offensive threat like Anthony but without him, this will likely be another disappointing ending for Chicago.
The “what-ifs?” are starting to get old in the Windy City.