As most of all of you know by now, Derrick Rose’s season is over. With just over a minute to go in what was a sure victory, he went down with a torn ACL. It was an ugly sight for sure, and it certainly brings to question the coaching methods of Tom Thibodeau.
For his entire time in Chicago, he’s had a tendency to keep his key guys in when the game is all but over, and ride starters to heavy minutes, despite having a deep bench. This is obviously noted by Rose going down yesterday when the game was already won, and the minutes issue can be seen on the heavy minutes Luol Deng has played the last two seasons. During the last two season, he’s averaged over 39 minutes per game. I realize he’s a young guy, but that’s a whole bunch of minutes that’s going to wear you down and make you more apt to an injury.
But this isn’t what this is all about. I could rant all day about how much I disagree with Thibodeau keeping Rose in, or how I think he rides his starters far too long sometimes. This is about the Rose injury. Where do the Bulls go now?
They had success all season without him, going 18-9 in games he missed. But this isn’t the regular season, this is the playoffs. And there’s no question that they’re no longer a championship contending team with him in street clothes. Not even close.
It doesn’t matter how good they were when Rose was down during the regular season anymore. What matters now is where they’re going to go from here. And honestly, anyone that thinks they make it much further than the first round might not be all there.
Do I still think this is a solid team? Absolutely. They can still take this series against Philadelphia, simply because Philadelphia isn’t one of the premier teams in the NBA. Despite not having Rose, they still have enough talent to take them out. They’ll need a lot better performances from Carlos Boozer if they’re going to do that, and they’ll need big contributions from CJ Watson and that bench, but they can still win this series. It just won’t be nearly as easy.
But what happens after this series? They’re looking at a date with either the Hawks or the Celtics. Neither of those matchups look all that appealing right now either. Without Rose, they have no one to attack Rajon Rondo and make him work on the defensive end, and they really have no one that can create for others to make it a bit easier against the stout Celtics defense.
The Hawks might not be as big of a problem, but I still don’t like their chances. The Hawks are a talented team, and with the Bulls lacking their best player, it’s going to be tough for them to beat a team that has the likes of Joe Johnson and Josh Smith playing.
Simply put, the Bulls need Rose to go further then the first round. I’d argue to say that they’re not much better than a seven or eight seed without him, and I think that’ll show come the second round, if not sooner.
Looking past all this though, one has to question – what happens after the playoffs? How long will Rose be gone? A torn ACL can take anywhere from eight to twelve months to come back from, so best case scenario is that we’ll be seeing Rose back on the court in December. At that point, the 2012-13 season will be two months old, and who knows where Chicago will be by then.
More importantly though, is how will Rose recover? When Ricky Rubio tore his ACL a couple months ago, no one really questioned whether or not he’ll be able to be back to himself by the time his recovery time is up. He’s a player that doesn’t use his athleticism, so it’s easier to see him being 100 percent recovered.
But Rose is a different beast. His game is predicated off his explosive athleticism. He uses it at all points in his game – from getting explosion on his jump shot to blowing past a defender on a cut to the hoop – he uses it and uses it well. So you really have to be concerned about the type of player he’ll be when he gets back. Is he going to have all that explosion in his step when he returns? Will he be back the same Derrick Rose? Is he going to be tentative with every step now and worry about that knee, hindering his play in the process?
We don’t know answers to any of these questions right now, but they’re going to something Bulls fans and NBA fans are going to be wondering for the next eight months or so.
Here’s to hoping that we still have the same Derrick Rose when he comes back, because it’d be a travesty for a player so young with so much talent to have his career thrown off track by a freak injury like this.