Despite the second knee injury of Derrick Rose early on in the season and the emotional trade of Luol Deng, the Chicago Bulls still performed admirably, ending the season with a record of 48-34 while also being ranked first in defense. But unfortunately for them, that strong willed heart of the Bulls wasn’t enough in the playoffs, as they got bounced out in the first round by the Washington Wizards in just five games.
Many people expected the Bulls to top the Wizards, than go on and possibly even upset the Pacers in the second round, but they just weren’t able to establish that. You could tell that the players on that team were exhausted after giving 110% percent during the regular season and not leaving enough energy for the playoffs. The Bulls played with so much heart this season, being the ultimate underdogs and still being able to defeat teams at the likes of Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs, but they just weren’t built enough to bring an even greater punch to the postseason and survive it, due to the much increased defensive pressure that all the teams bring with them when the postseason begins, as the stakes are much higher than the regular season.
The return of Derrick Rose isn’t going to be enough to make the Chicago Bulls that same team that went 62-20 in the 2010-11 NBA season. Bringing him back to the starting lineup and having him lead the team won’t make the Bulls contenders. Though, a healthy Rose would be a good start, as Chicago is in need of a scorer after being ranked last in offense this season.
Chicago has one of the best shooters in the league, Jimmer Ferdette, but gave him little to no minutes ever since they signed him. They need that scoring that he can provide and he’s proven in the games that Chicago let him play that he can be an efficient scorer.
The offensive cohesiveness is there for the Bulls, as they take their time passing the ball on every possession. But they just don’t have enough players who could consistently score when the ball is in their hands. The closest thing they had to that this season was DJ Augustin, but his chances of staying with the team are still unknown as his minutes will surely drop when Rose returns next season.
Bulls need to amnesty Carlos Boozer, and free up some cap space and sign someone who could help Chicago levitate offensively. With guys at the likes of Kevin Love and Lance Stephenson up for grabs in free agency this summer, the Bulls need to make a move to acquire someone, especially since Derrick Rose might not be able to perform well enough to carry the team offensively after so many injuries.
They also need to put in more effort to get Nikola Mirotic, the 6″10 power forward that the Bulls drafted in 2011, out of Madrid and finally sign a deal with him, even though Chicago is sure that Taj Gibson will start next season. Mirotic would be a great six man for the Bulls, as he could spread the floor as a power forward with his three point shooting. The Bulls need a big man in the post that can rebound, something that killed the Bulls when they played the Wizards in the playoffs, as they were able to get so many offensive rebounds. If Bulls could land Pau Gasol or Spencer Hawes, they could have help from the bench with rebounds and be great back ups for Joakim Noah, as he played way too much minutes this season due to not having a reliable back up.
The Bulls’ front office have to make moves this offseason instead of just putting their full reliance on Rose if they want to bring this team back to contender status. Defense is something that any player can learn with Tom Thibodeau as head coach, so that won’t be the problem if they bring in guys like Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Love, who were strongly criticized for their lack of defensive ability.
They need scorers from the wing and downtown. They need big men to clog the lanes and get those rebounds. They need a deeper bench so that Chicago won’t have to overwork players like Jimmy Butler and Joakim Noah.
If the front office can make the right moves this offseason, than I believe that Chicago can once again be that dominant team that we saw in 2010-2011. Chicago already has the heart, will, and confidence to be champions. Now, they just need the ability.