Chicago Bulls: Breaking Down Why Derrick Rose Won’t Be Their Savior


The Chicago Bulls aren’t playing well and Derrick Rose won’t save them. (Photo credit: soaringbird on Flickr)

Derrick Rose has had a nice career.

Not only has he won an MVP award, he has averaged a stellar 21 points per game (PPG) over his short career while making the Eastern Conference Finals once and taking the Chicago Bulls to the playoffs in all four of his full seasons. Rose has potential and has flashed it in numerous ways, as he also averages 6.8 assists per game (APG) over his career and 7.9 in 2011-12.

So when he went down with an ACL injury in the closing minutes of Game 1 against the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the 2012 playoffs, it killed the Bulls.

Chicago had played without Rose for a lot of the year and they were 18-9 without Rose. However, the 76ers took advantage of Rose’s absence and beat the Bulls in six games, shockingly eliminating the Bulls from the first round in a year in which Chicago fans envisioned winning it all. While it was surprising to see the Bulls go down so early, it also would have been hard to see them going far without Rose.

Why? Because Rose is the heart and soul of the team as well as arguably one of the league’s best players.

However, Chicago has exceeded expectations this year without Rose, as its record is 36-29. The Bulls were at the top of the pack for a large portion of the year and while they have stumbled a bit, they are still fine and will definitely be in the postseason. With Rose back, it seems like the Bulls can go far in the 2013 playoffs while ascending to the top of the pack for the start of the 2013-14 season.

But unfortunately for Bulls fans, it isn’t that easy.

ACL injuries are very pesky and they have derailed lots of careers. NFL MVP Adrian Peterson recovered smoothly from an ACL and produced incredible numbers and one would think that a player with Rose’s talent would be able to do the same. However, he doesn’t seem extremely confident about his return, as he isn’t returning to action despite being cleared to return (via ESPN).

According to the report, Rose wants to confidently be able to dunk off of his left foot. Because Rose has not returned yet, you would think that he isn’t able to confidently dunk off his left foot. However, one would have to wonder if he is making sure everything is perfect for the 2013-14 season because the Bulls aren’t a top seed in 2013. While the Bulls have received great play from Joakim Noah and still have a good team without Rose, they aren’t good enough to fight through tough matchups on the road and get deep into the playoffs.

It’s incredibly difficult to win on the road and winning on the road in the playoffs, where only the best teams get to host games (or the majority of the games) is much more difficult. The Bulls are 18-15 on the road this year, but they are 1-5 in their last six road games with three losses by 18 or more points. The lowly Sacramento Kings (23-43) obliterated the Bulls by 42 and the Oklahoma City Thunder demolished Chicago by 30.

What does that suggest? That the Bulls are falling apart.

Chicago seems to be finally losing it without Rose and while he will be back soon, it’s not going to be enough this season. It takes a great team getting hot at the right time to beat the best teams in the Eastern Conference on the road and with Rose just getting back in the swing of things, that won’t happen. In Rose’s last full season, he struggled in the Eastern Conference Finals as the Miami Heat beat the Bulls in five games.

During Rose’s career, the Bulls have won two postseason series and lost four. Rose shot 35 percent in the Eastern Conference Finals and 39.6 percent in the 2010-11 postseason, his last full postseason. Rose’s career postseason shooting percentage is 42.5 percent, which is below average by all means. He can make plays, but can’t save a team.

The Bulls are a good team and will be a contender for years to come, but it’s going to take more than Rose to seal the deal. He’s never averaged more than 25 PPG in a season, while stars like LeBron James and Kobe Bryant consistently average just less than 30 PPG with stars around them to take the ball. Rose doesn’t have much help on his team outside of Noah and the Bulls have a point differential of 0.5, meaning they average just 0.5 more PPG than their opponents. Miami has a 7.5 point differential, while the Thunder own a 9.5 point differential.

So what does that suggest? That the Bulls don’t have enough talent around Rose to pick up the slack if their leader goes down.

Rose can’t single-handidly turn the Bulls around. In the 2011-12 season, his estimated wins added (EWA) was 8.3 and if he had played all 66 games, his EWA still would have been just 14, which would have been 10th in the league. Rose’s player efficiency rating (PER) was ninth in the 2011-12 season. Those numbers don’t put him up there with James, Bryant and Kevin Durant and they don’t reflect the numbers of a true superstar.

Therefore, it’s hard to put Rose in the same category as James, Bryant and Durant and it’s hard to imagine him bringing the Bulls to championship glory.

Chicago is a good team and Rose is a player capable of helping his team a lot, but it’s hard to imagine him winning a championship without a good supporting cast. The Bulls will need to make some moves for Rose if they want to win a championship, because it’s not happening this year, even with Rose in the playoffs. The future is promising for the Bulls, but they need to help out Derrick Rose to fulfill their wishes.

Because if they don’t, Chicago will enter a period of mediocrity and stay there without the championship they crave.