Despite being the NBA's winningest team for two seasons running, the Chicago Bulls head into training camp with more question marks than perhaps any team in the league. Here are 10 from a list of many.
1. Derrick Rose: The big question, of course, is when will Rose return? I've read guesses ranging from mid-December to not at all; fact is, no one knows. According to what we've read (and watched), his rehab is going well and is ahead of schedule. And that's all we know.
2. Derrick Rose: Another huge question is what kind of shape will Rose be in when he does return? Will he be the same explosive Derrick Rose? If desire, determination and work ethic play a role, Rose will come back better than ever, but again, we just don't know.
3. Point guard: Will Kirk Hinrich be able to handle the point? Unlike some fans, I'm not too excited about his return: He's older, slower and more injury prone than the Captain Kirk Bulls fans once knew, and he was never a good point guard to begin with.
4. New faces: With six new faces, team chemistry - one of the Bulls' biggest assets the past two seasons - will have to be rebuilt. How quickly will the team gel? Will the new guys buy into coach Tom Thibodeau's system? And will they be able to play the kind of D Thibs demands?
5. Health: Will the Bulls remain healthy for the entire campaign? Two Bulls - Luol Deng (wrist) and Joakim Noah (ankle) - are starting the season with injury concerns, and then there's Carlos "Gym Bag" Boozer, who was injury-free for just the third time in his career last season. The loss of a starter in addition to Rose would be devastating.
6. Scoring: Who'll step up and provide the offense in Rose's absence? Good question. Boozer is the obvious choice, as everyone else on the roster is pretty much maxed out in terms of scoring potential. Consistently finding offense could be challenging for the Bulls.
7. Jimmy Butler: Will Butler be able to fulfill increased expectations? Fans are high on the second-year swingman, but he's largely untested at the big league level. He looked great in the Vegas Summer League, but it was, after all, summer league.
8. Extensions: Will contract extensions for coach Tom Thibodeau and forward Taj Gibson become a distraction? It's simple: Both are going to command premium prices, and the Bulls can pay them now or pay them more later.
9: Surprises: In a season with so many question marks, someone will surely surprise and play above the level expected. Who will it be for the Bulls? Candidates include Noah, who worked out this summer with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Taj Gibson, who played for Team USA. Marco Belinelli might also surprise.
10. Trades: Will the Bulls look to rebuild on the fly by making mid-season trades? It seems likely that some kind of move will be made before the trade deadline, such as dumping Hamilton's expiring contract.
YCN featured sports contributor Steve Merritt is - for better or worse - a lifelong Chicago Bulls, Bears and Cubs fan. He's followed the Bulls since 1969, when he began tuning in after bedtime on a cheap dime store radio tucked under his pillow. Follow the 2012-13 Chicago Bulls season from A Fan's View on Facebook.
Other Chicago Bulls articles by Steve:
Build Your Own All-Chicago Bulls News Network: A Fan's View (September 30)