COMMENTARY | The return of Derrick Rose draws ever nearer with news that he is now partaking in full-contact practices, cutting well and doing other things which signify the readiness of his knee. Finally, after what seems like an eternity, the Chicago Bulls are set to welcome back the face of the franchise. But a surprising thing happened while Rose was out, a few of them actually. Things likely to benefit the team once Rose gets back to 100% and put them in a better position than ever to compete for an NBA Championship .
The absence of Rose forced players to play. The Bulls have often been criticized for being stagnant on offense. This is not unusual when there is a superstar on the team. There is a tendency for the other players to simply stand and watch, waiting for the gifted one to make a play. And because gifted he is, Rose would often oblige. This leads to bad habits and a vicious cycle of standing, and watching, and waiting. Without Rose this was not an issue or an option. His prideful teammates not only had the desire, but were now given the opportunity to step up.
First off, Joakim Noah has been in beast mode all season long. It is as if, with Rose out of the line-up, Noah made a conscious decision to bear the burden of team leader. The center has dominated his position night in and night out, averaging career highs in just about every category and even earning a trip to his first NBA All-Star game.
Then, after two seasons of mediocrity, and sometimes less than that, Carlos Boozer has seemingly recaptured his two-time All-Star form. After calling for him to be amnestied, not many expected Booze to be named Eastern Conference Player of the Week. Nor did many envision he would deliver his finest games against the best teams in the league and be such a huge reason why the Bulls are currently atop the Central Division. Nonetheless, this is exactly what has transpired.
There has also been the emergence of Jimmy Butler. And what looked at the beginning of the season to be an obliterated bench is now rounding into form. During his second year, Butler has played effectively both as a reserve and in spot starts for an injured Luol Deng.
Speaking of Deng, the most consistent player on the team besides Rose has continued to play well and will join Noah in Houston this February. How does a team without its lone superstar manage to send two players to the All-Star game and lead a division? Of course, the coaching of defensive guru Tom Thibodeau is one factor. But the Bulls have collectively performed at an unpredictably high level.
It's funny how a negative situation can sometimes produce positive results. In learning to play without Rose, the Bulls have learned how to play together. Granted, there is more of everything to go around. There are shots, minutes, and touches that will not be there once Rose returns. But hopefully, good habits of moving without the ball and taking the open jumper have been developed in his absence.
In no way, shape or form are the Bulls better without their all-world point guard. But perhaps confidence has been built or in the case of Boozer, restored. And guys will continue to be aggressive on offense. Because if Rose can regain full-strength with this team, Chicago will definitely have to be dealt with come postseason.
Acamea Deadwiler is a Chicago-area native with several years experience covering the NBA, including the Chicago Bulls, for Examiner.com. She has also been featured in Bounce magazine, SLAM Online, and various other publications. Follow Acamea on Twitter @AcameaLD.
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