Derrick Rose’s return from his ACL tear in the 2012 playoffs is arguably one of the most anticipated in NBA history. After a controversy-filled 2013 season for the Bulls and millions upon millions of overdone #TheReturn jokes, Rose is finally fully healed and poised to swing the direction of the NBA title in the process. With the help of @juiceleroy, @klew24, @sideeyespecial, and @trisity_, we dissect some of the most interesting storylines involving Rose and how well we expect Chicago to perform this season.
1. What place will a healthy Rose be in MVP voting next season?
@juiceleroy: A healthy Rose is easily a top 5 MVP candidate. In his 1st 3 seasons, Rose only missed a total of 6 games while averages of 20.8 ppg, 6.6 asts, & 3.9 rebs. Aside from his individual exploits, under Thibbs with a healthy Rose in the lineup the Bulls have won 75% of their regular season games. That’s the MVP formula these days… Standout player + elite regular season team = top MVP candidate. So unless Boozer drinks MJ’s special stuff to be the catalyst or the Bulls flounder around .500, then Rose will be in the running for MVP if healthy.
@trisity_: I’m going to go out on a limb and say Rose comes in second for MVP after Chris Paul. I think voter’s fatigue will set in with Lebron (again) and the media seems like they’re becoming antsy with Kevin Durant, giving the two guards the bigger chances. Chris Paul has the roster to pull of an impressive regular season run, and a number one seed in the West could equate to MVP for him. As far as Rose, if he plays well he’ll have the media on his side. And we know what the outcome was last time that happened.
@klew24: LeBron, Durant, Melo(?), Parker(?), Harden as a darkhorse? I’m not really sure. This is a hard question to answer. I wouldn’t be surprised if he finished 3rd. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had another MVP giftwrapped for him. I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t finish top 5. Gun to my head,I think he will finish top 5. After all, the standards for him to do so will probably be refreshingly low.
@sideeyespecial: I think Rose would finish either 3rd or 4th in MVP voting. If CP3 coasts too far through the second half of the season, I could see Rose finishing in 3rd place. But ultimately I see the MVP battle coming down to Lebron vs. KD one more time.
@shawnintheflesh: I think that a healthy Rose will end up 2nd in MVP voting (behind the obvious answer), especially if OKC slightly regresses in that brutal Western Conference. Rose’s comeback narrative, along with his stellar numbers and Chicago’s record, should be more than enough for him to leapfrog Durant in MVP votes this season.
2. Will there be any lingering tension between Rose and the rest of his team for resting while everyone else played hurt in the playoffs?
@juiceleroy: I don’t think so. Bulls players seemed to legitimately back Rose’s decision last season. Emotional leader Joakim Noah was probably the most vocal supporter of Rose’s choice to sit out. Noah has been recorded calling Rose “a brother” and even saying that critics should “shutup because it’s just so unfair to him (Rose)!”
@trisity_: I don’t think so. Once Rose steps on the floor, everything that happened last year should be looked at as a thing in the past. If Derrick returns to form, the Bulls will have a championship contender on hand, so there’s no reason in re-hashing old feelings that could create a riff in the organization and distract the team from what’s most important.
@klew24: No. I don’t think that team is comprised of guys like that. Guys like Noah, Deng, Butler and company seem to be all about doing whatever is best for the team to win. And if Rose felt like he couldn’t help them at that point, I think they get it. After all, Rose’s body is essentially an investment.
@sideeyespecial: I don’t think there will be tension between Rose and his teammates. Despite his tour de force showings in practice, they know that nothing can simulate a true game situation, and if he didn’t feel ready, he couldn’t (and shouldn’t) play.
@shawnintheflesh: I doubt that there will be much tension in that locker room over the injury. Chicago appears to be a genuinely tight-knit group, and they have veterans on that team who are more focused on winning than anything else.
3. What seed will a healthy Bulls team finish with in the regular season?
@juiceleroy: If by healthy, the standards of 2010-2012 Bulls are the norm, and I expect the Bulls to be no worse than 3rd & as high as 1st. The Bulls have found a unpolished, but hard working gem in Jimmy Butler to be in the mix. Boozer finally looked like the player Chicago paid all that money for after the All-Star break . Noah and Deng are pretty constant with what they provide when healthy. Newcomer Mike Dunleavy Jr is a wild card. He’s clearly in the twilight of his career, but he can provide long range shooting that’s desperately needed to balance Rose’s penetration. Hurts my heart to admit the Bulls are going to lean so heavily on ex- Dook (Duke) players, by the way.
@trisity_: I see no reason why this team can’t finish first in the Eastern Conference. Prior to Rose tearing his ACL, the Bulls were tied with the San Antonio Spurs for best overall record during the 2011-12 season. Fast forward to now and they’re a better team than they were two years ago. Add that with the fact that Tom Thibodeau isn’t one to coast through the regular season and we’re looking at a 58-60+ win team.
@klew24: #2. While the East is deeper than it was last season, the Bulls finished five while often looking completely lost on the offensive end of the floor. If Rose comes back and is 80% of his previous self, that helps them on the offensive end of the floor. I think they win 58+ if Rose stays relatively healthy and plays the majority of the games.
@sideeyespecial: A healthy Bulls team finishes #1 in the East, and #1 or #2 overall. They’re a top defensive team, and Tom Thibodeau doesn’t give his guys a night off during the regular season. Ever.
@shawnintheflesh: I think that Chicago finishes with the best record in the East with a healthy Rose in their lineup. Although the upper half of the East has improved, they will still be a top notch, selfless unit, and they will be hungry to prove that they can beat Miami (and everyone else) for all 82 games.
4. Where do you rank a healthy Rose overall among point guards?
@juiceleroy: A healthy Rose is a top 5 PG in the NBA. He’s proven it pre-ACL injury. Not necessarily the most efficient PG out there, but he’s a one man wrecking crew when healthy. Hopefully he took his time being immobile to do stationary shooting drills to improve his touch like players such as LaMarcus Aldridge & A’mare Stoudemire did while coming off major knee surgery.
@trisity_: I currently have him third overall behind Chris Paul and Tony Parker when healthy. Offensively his only glaring weakness was his lack of a jumpshot (shot 35 percent on jump shots in ’11-12, h/t Bball Reference). He can create off the dribble, get to the cup and do everything you’d want your franchise point guard to do. If he can come back with an improved shot post-injury a la Amare Stoudemire, he’ll probably jump into the number two spot. Defensively he has a long way to go, but Parker isn’t a defensive stud either, so it does minimal damage to his rankings.
@klew24: Cp3, Westbrook, Parker, Kyrie maybe.. I haven’t seen a healthy Rose since 2011. I don’t remember what he looks like. Given what I know now I’d definitely take CP, Westbrook and Parker over him. Kyrie is on his way too, but this will need revision if Rose gets through the season healthy.
@sideeyespecial: I’d consider a healthy Rose to be anywhere from #3-5 among point guards. The only things that keep him from climbing even higher is his shot selection (which can be nauseating), and his facilitating. Rose has great teammates, and can be a huge help on the offensive end if he looks to hit them in their sweet spots with more consistency.
@shawnintheflesh: I have Rose as the 3rd best PG in the league, after CP3 and Parker. Despite his shot selection at times, he’s almost impossible to guard 1-on-1, and he has shown improvement and range on his jumper. Improvements to his defense and general decision making can vault him to number 1 on this list.
5. What percentage would you give a healthy Bulls team winning the title next season?
@juiceleroy: 15% chance of the title. I’m a big fan of great team defense. Thibs’ defensive philosophy is proven in this league from Houston to Boston to Chicago, and a healthy Bulls team has proven to be a .750 win percentage team under his watch. The rest of the Eastern Conference has improved nicely though. The Central division should be ultra competitive due to to the offseason moves in Detroit and Cleveland along with Indiana off a 7 game conference Finals appearance. By no means do I think the Bulls will win 60 games even if healthy this season, but 50-55 for them is well within reach, given good health and player improvement.
@trisity_: I’ll give the Bulls a 65 percent chance of winning it all. I currently have Chicago as the third best team in the NBA after the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat when healthy. If their offense can come close to matching the defense and not show a heavy reliance on Rose on offense I see no reason why Chicago can’t represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. They just have to pray they don’t come across the Miami Heat in the playoffs or that kills all their chances.
@klew24: 5-15%. I just don’t think they have enough offensively to get it done. While Rose helps, he can’t do it by himself. The Bulls defense is obviously elite and has been ever since Tom Thibodeau got there, but their offense doesn’t inspire any confidence. I don’t really think they can beat the likes of a Miami, or (if they managed to get to the Finals somehow) a San Antonio or OKC 4 times out of 7. I don’t see it.
@sideeyespecial: I don’t really know how to quantify the Bulls’ title chances. I’ll say 8%. I don’t think this team can get out of the East, honestly. The Nets are a huge question mark in my book, but if the Bulls run into a vengeful Pacers team, or the Heat, I don’t think they’ll survive. Also, if they somehow manage to get out of the East, they still lack a reliable secondary initiator on offense, and the Western Conference champs will be sure to exploit that relentlessly.
@shawnintheflesh: I give Chicago a 20% chance to win the title this season. The Bulls already have a championship-caliber defense, great coaching and an utter lack of fear of the other top teams in the league. If they can just be more diversified offensively (you know, something besides “Rose P&R and hope for the best”), they would be able to beat anyone, yes, even Miami, in a 7 game series.