COMMENTARY | The Chicago Bulls have had a good NBA season thus far, all things considered. Without Derrick Rose, the team has managed to maintain a respectable record hovering around .500, and center Joakim Noah is playing like an All-Star. As if this were not enough, there have been recent reports that the aforementioned Rose may be nearing a return. There isn't much more one could ask of the Bulls, but there is always room for improvement. Even the best teams can get better. Here are the top five things the organization should focus on heading into 2013:
5. Playing time for Marquis TeagueAfter a rough start to his NBA career, rookie point guard Marquis Teague has shown a great deal of promise in his last few games with the Bulls. Forced into action after a knee injury kept Kirk Hinrich out of the lineup, Teague made the most of his previously rare minutes. Hopefully, playing time will now come a bit more freely. Teague could potentially render current back-up point guard Nate Robinson, who is historically inconsistent and arguably more style than substance, expendable.
4. Monitoring Noah's minutesNoah is a young 27 and can probably handle logging heavy minutes. He is second in the league behind teammate Luol Deng. Still, Noah is a big man that takes a pounding every night and the Bulls must be careful not to wear him down. There have been several instances where coach Thibodeau has kept the starters in games that are clearly out of reach for either his team or the opponent. These are unnecessary minutes-- unnecessary mileage being placed on Noah's body.
3. The answer at shooting guardIs it Rip Hamilton? Is it Marco Belinelli? The ability to score from the two guard spot has long been an issue for the Bulls. Perhaps the answer is not currently on the roster. But figuring out how to best fill this void would help the team's offense tremendously.
2. Carlos Boozer or Taj Gibson?The Bulls must decide if they are going to continue depending on the underwhelming Carlos Boozer, or give reserve power forward Taj Gibson a larger role going forward. While Boozer is not an awful player, he does sometimes look to be a liability-- especially on the defensive end. With Gibson recently signing a contract extension that keeps him in Chicago through the 2016-17 season, it may be time to see what he can do as a member of the starting unit.
1. Do not rush Rose back
Surely Rose misses the Bulls as much as the Bulls miss him. Although teammates and fans are certainly excited about his pending arrival, it is important that he does not come back too soon. Returning at less than 100% would serve no one and could lead to aggravation of the knee injury Rose suffered in April. The team is working hard to remain afloat. Setting up a scenario where Rose could potentially rejoin the line-up in time for the playoffs. However, it would be wise for him to wait and return at full-strength next season, rather than come back earlier at anything less than.
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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