A month removed from the Chicago Bulls’ first tip-off of the 2012-2013 season, it seems like a good of a time as any to document their recent successes and failures. Thirteen games in to this young, still very impressionable season, the Rose-less Bulls find themselves sitting at a 6-7 record. That’s good for 3rd in the Central division, which by the way, they’ve been used to dominating for the past two seasons. That 0.467 winning percentage also gives them the tenth spot in the Eastern conference.
There’s a plethora of different words that fans have could use to describe this. Ranging from average, below-average to why-the-hell-are-they-not-tanking, I’ll put them in the “mediocre” bracket. Are the Bulls a playoff team? Miami, Brooklyn, New York, Atlanta, Boston are looking like shoo-ins. Philadelphia and Milwaukee on the other hand, are looking pretty strong as well. The answer to that question looks is a very ambiguous maybe. If someone told you in June that Chicago would be competing with the Bobcats and the Granger-less Pacers for a playoff spot… well, unfortunately that wouldn’t actually be too hard to believe.
Moving on now, here’s a list of the teams above. 500 that the Chicago Bulls have defeated:
If that wasn’t depressing enough, here’s another list:
New Orleans Hornets
That’s a list of the teams below .500 that have defeated the Bulls. Know how long it took for Chicago to lose three games against teams below .500 last year? 46 games. On March 16th,
2012 a Rose-less Bulls team lost to the Portland Trailblazers at home. You’re probably thinking, “so what? The Bulls are worse without Rose… that’s all it is.” Here’s the thing though, that’s not all that it is. Derrick Rose missed a total of 27 games last season, while spending another several games playing at a much lower level than fans have come to expect of him. They went 17-10 without him, with a couple of notable wins against the Heat, Celtics and Knicks.
While the sample-size so far doesn’t quite scream “panic mode”, it’s rather clear that Chicago’s problems go farther than the left knee of Derrick Rose.
Via the Chicago Sun-Times, here’s what bench leader Taj Gibson had to say this morning after shoot-around about the Bulls most alarming on-court issue, the second unit:
“At times it’s been different because they’re still figuring out the defensive sets, the defensive slides,’’ Gibson said of life with the bench players. “They don’t understand that in the fourth quarter we’re used to just locking down on D. The fourth quarter has mostly been the backbones of our team, knowing that we don’t let anybody score in the fourth, so it’s still a long ways to go and we’ll eventually get it.’’
Will they eventually “get it” though? Nate Robinson is a much inferior defensive player to CJ Watson. Marco Belinelli is – somehow – inferior to Kyle Korver on both sides of the ball. The only pleasant surprise that Chicago has had on the second-unit is that Jimmy Butler has effectively taken on the Ronnie Brewer role. The real kicker though: The Chicago Bulls let their bench-mob anchor, and often fourth quarter defensive closer, Omer Asik pack his bags to Houston. Click here for some poetic justice regarding how well that has gone for the club.
All in all, is it too late for the Bulls to pick it up? Of course not. There’s still about 69 games to be played. A good portion of those games should include former MVP Derrick Rose. However, the real question is: Should the Chicago Bulls even try to pick it up? What’s the point? Aren’t they better suited to let Derrick Rose get his legs under him while drafting a lottery pick this summer? The answer to these questions, only time can tell. Stay tuned.