City Sports Report

Derrick Rose’s Injury In 2012 Was A Blessing For Chicago

A different Derrick Rose has now stepped onto the court for Chicago (photo courtesy of www.espn.com)

Derrick Rose was the focal point of the Chicago Bulls offense in 2011-2012. Despite missing over 43 games during the regular season, the Chicago Bulls were able to set themselves in good position to make a run for that elusive seventh title in franchise history. The first step that season was a matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers. And unfortunately, Game 1 effectively ended the run the Bulls thought they were going to have. Late in the fourth quarter, Rose was making a move to the basket, jumped to take a shot, and just like that his left knee gave out on him. It was confirmed that he tore his ACL and missed the rest of the playoffs. The Bulls would go on to lose the next four games and exit in the first round of the 2012 NBA playoffs. From that moment on, the Bulls would go through a season without Derrick Rose (2012-2013) followed by another season with Rose injuring a knee again in the 2013-2014 season and being lost for the year. But from Rose not being healthy, a few things happened for Rose and for the Bulls. And because of that, they are now better equipped than they have ever been as a team. So instead of them needing Rose to be all of the offense, he is simply an important cog in it.

When Rose was out for the Bulls, the team was void of a leader. Despite Rose being the quiet type of guy, he was looked at by the team as the guy that made the Bulls go on the court. But during his absence, a new leader was needed to step up and take the team forward. None other than Joakim Noah took over and became more of the leader the team needed. From 2012 on, Noah was the guy who set the tone for the Bulls. The Bulls’ identity was defense and Noah was the foundation for it. Noah also was the guy that would initiate the offense in the absence of Rose. He would be the energy behind the team every single night and that energy would help the Bulls to be competitive over the time that Derrick Rose missed. Flash forward to now and the reigning Defensive Player of the Year has been excellent on the court (when he has been there) and it is unquestioned that he is the heart and soul of that team. With him out there, the Bulls have a defensive intensity that only he can bring. The Bulls also have the best passing big man combo in the NBA now that Pau Gasol joined the team. And more importantly, the Bulls have an unquestioned leader and his name is Joakim Noah.

But Noah was not the only one that has grown since 2012. Taj Gibson was an excellent defender for the Bulls and has been so since he has entered the league. But the one thing he always lacked was being a reliable offensive weapon. One reason Taj has always been a bench player is due to his limited and unpredictable offense. In 2012, Taj was known to hit an occasional jump shot along with finishing a dunk with power. That worked on some teams, but against teams that took away his easy shots offensively, he was virtually a no-show. But as time has gone on, Taj has grown his offensive game. Last season, he was as dynamic a bench player as the NBA had seen. Gibson averaged a career-high 13 points per game off the bench and was outplaying then-starter Carlos Boozer on a routine basis every night. Fast forward to this season and he is again dominating either off the bench of spot-starting in place of Joakim Noah. He is again averaging 13 points per game, but he is shooting a career-high 53% from the field and is still giving the Bulls energy and defense off the bench. He has evolved from a defensive guy that gave you some offense to a consistent offensive threat with great defense.

Another player that has grown from 2012 is Jimmy Butler. In 2012, Butler barely even got any playing time during the season. But in 2012-2013, he got his chance to play more with the injury to forward Luol Deng in the 2012-2013 playoffs, he began to make his presence known. Butler showed that he could not only play in the NBA that postseason, but that he could be an elite defender. He played outstanding defense and began to carve out his niche in the NBA, or some thought. But for all that he gave you defensively, it seemed like he lacked any offensive punch. In 2013-2014, Butler was on the floor more and shot a measly 39% from the floor while scoring 13 points per game. He was adding scoring, but not the consistent scoring the Bulls needed to help sustain anything on the offensive end. This summer Butler decided to go to work on the offensive end of his game. He reportedly cut off his cable and would go to the gym each and everytime he was bored during the summer to work on his offensive game. The results this year are definitely showing from the work he put in. Knowing that Rose was coming back but not wanting to be so dependent on his offensive abilities has been made that much easier now that Jimmy Butler has become very effective on the offensive end. Butler is shooting a career-high 49% from the field while leading the Bulls in scoring at 20.9 points per game. And the most telling thing about the confidence the team has in him is their willingness to post Jimmy up or run their offense through him in crunch times of games. There would have been no way the Bulls would have done that in 2012 with him. The incredible growth now gives the Bulls one more dependable scorer to give defenses fits.

But by far the biggest effect of Derrick Rose’s injury on anyone has been on Rose himself. Back in the 2011-2012 season, Rose was known more as a scoring guard that happened to be slotted at the point guard position. He was a slasher that attacked the paint with regularity and was the barometer of the Bulls offense. He was the guy that had to show up each and every game offensively for the Bulls to have a chance to win. The constant slashing and explosion eventually wore on his body and his body broke down on him in the 2012 1st round of the playoffs. He sat out the entire 2012-2013 season and then we all know about the failed return in 2013 in which he then tore the meniscus in his knee. In this comeback attempt, Rose has been missed some games due to ankle sprains and a hamstring issue, but recently he has played back-to-back games and has been very effective. One thing that is different is he is being effective going to the rim without the same type of explosion. Rose still has explosion going to the rim, he just knows that everytime he goes to the rim he does not have to use all of it. Another big difference is his jumper looks a lot smoother than it did in 2012. Back then, you could give Rose the jump shot or three-pointer and he would clank it every single time. Fast forward to now and he is hitting three’s the best he ever has in his career. Sometimes he settles for that shot, but it is now an additional weapon that he has in his arsenal. With these two improvements along with the added vision on the court, Rose seems to have found himself and improved his game even though the injuries have taken some of his court time away.

The Bulls have suffered through injuries for the better part of three years and none has been bigger than Derrick Rose’s injuries. But the injuries did not hurt this team in the long run. It helped birth a growth among some of its core players than is benefitting them right now. And with the additions of Aaron Brooks, Paul Gasol and Nikola Mirotic, the Bulls seem to be set to make a run for the title. This is the best they have ever looked offensively since the Tom Thibodeau era began in Chicago. And with Chicago, you know the defense will be coming when it’s time to win. Who would have known that from the loss of Rose the Bulls would get two improved offensive players (one a 6th man of the year candidate and the other the best shooting guard Rose has played with) and a leader? But because of that original and subsequent injuries to Rose, the Bulls now have a team hardened and prepared to take the Eastern Conference.

If you have any sports questions, feel free to follow me on Twitter @General_MP or check me out on Facebook at Mike Patton-The General .

One Comment

  1. Rob Thomas Brown

    December 18, 2014 at 4:58 pm

    Nice article! Being a Cavs fan and seeing them play earlier in the season, you can see the growth of these players, especially Taj Gibson, always been a fan of him. As a matter of fact Rose got hurt in that game and the rest of the team continued to play well in his absence. Learning to play and grow without your top player is impressive for this Championship-level team

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