HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — There’s a reason Derrick Rose has refused to do any recruiting of fellow All-Stars who enter the free agent fray.
Maybe Rose has known all along what many of the critics who suggested he wasn’t worthy of his MVP trophy last season (yes John Schuhmann, I’m talking about you!) have been screaming about since last season, these Bulls are much more about the collective than they are about any one player.
And that’s not to diminish the greatness of Rose. But the numbers, in this case, do not lie. The Bulls are a robust 13-5 without Rose this season and after watching them dismantle the Hawks last night (above) with Rose on the sideline, it’s become pretty obvious that whatever Tom Thibodeau and his staff have cooked up in Chicago is clearly not predicated solely on Rose stirring the pot.
It’s clear Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and the fellas are perfectly capable of handling things offensively if Rose is unavailable. And we’re talking about the best defensive crew in the league, a group that does not rely on one player to serve as their catalyst on that end of the floor.
We went through this on the Blogtable yesterday,wondering how long the Bulls can go without Rose in uniform. My suggestion was that he take whatever time is needed to heal completely before worrying about getting back on the floor. More than anything, his absence allows this team to build a confidence in itself sans Rose that could serve them well in the postseason.
Even Rose appears to understand the good that has come from his recent inactivity.
“We’re finding our confidence and finding ways to win,” he said after the win over the Hawks. “It was a low turnover night where we rebounded well, and we moved the ball well. We also executed our plays well. We’re pretty deep. We’re basically the same team as last year. We know Coach (Thibodeau’s) system, so we know what he expects from us each night.”
We all know what Thibodeau expects from his team, no matter who is uniform.
“Defense was huge,” Rose said. “It was going to be a hard night for us, so you have to play defense all throughout the game. I would like to be out there, but I’m glad the team is getting it done so I can get healthy. We’re just trying to become a complete team. We’re still lacking on the offensive end, but these kinds of games will get us to where we need to be come playoff time.”
If the Bulls are still not a complete team, with that league-best 41-11 record (including a runaway league-leading 21-6 road record), then there is no such thing in today’s NBA.
And that’s clear to everyone, especially the teams that have had to deal with the Bulls, with and without Rose.
“Chicago is a very disciplined team and everybody knows their role and plays their role to the fullest,” Hawks All-Star Joe Johnson told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “As for us, sometimes we are not so disciplined. There may be a few guys who don’t know their role on this team. We do a lot that doesn’t help us, for whatever reason. That is why [the Bulls] are an elite team. They’ve got the MVP who hasn’t played in eight game and they go [6-2]. That goes to show they have guys who really value their roles and play their roles like no other.”
No doubt about it!