By Wesley Kaminsky
After a 2010-2011 season in which the Chicago Bulls finished 62-20, made the Eastern Conference Finals, had both the coach of the year in Tom Thibodeau and MVP in Derrick Rose, many said the Bulls overachieved and reached their maximum potential. Not if you ask Bulls fans or Derrick Rose, though.
After winning game one against the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals by a whopping 21 points, the Bulls then proceeded to lose the next four games, getting eliminated by the Heat in five games. Derrick Rose received little help, and it was more evident than ever that they needed another scorer who could create their own shot.
Keith Bogans, who started all 82 games a season ago, averaged just 4.4 points per game with a season high of 17 points. Bogans started because of his defense, and while he was serviceable, the fact of the matter is he isn’t a championship caliber starting shooting guard.
Rose, being the perfectionist that he is, wanted no excuses though and put the blame on himself, saying “I was the reason we lost those games. Little mistakes, turnovers, not making the extra passes to the open guy.” This season, expect Rose to take an even bigger step forward, but he can’t do it alone. For the Bulls to get past the Heat, it’s going to have to be Carlos Boozer who makes a difference. Boozer was heavily criticized in last seasons playoffs, and the Bulls expected more out of their $75 million man. Maybe it had something to do with the turf toe, but whatever the reason, the Bulls need more out of Boozer this season.
The Bulls won’t get past the Heat with the same roster they had a season ago, it’s that simple. The Bulls relied so heavily on Derrick Rose and he’s not going to be able to do it alone. Ask LeBron James about that from his Cavalier days. The Bulls biggest priority this off-season is to get a shooting guard who can knock down the three and ease the pressure off of Rose.
They’ve already targeted guys such as Caron Butler, Jason Richardson, and Jamal Crawford just to name a few. But, do the Bulls have the money for any of those guys? In order to sign one of them, Jerry Reinsdorf, John Paxson, and Gar Forman are going to have to convince them to come to Chicago for less with a good chance of getting a ring.
The conversation would probably go something like this: “We have the reigning MVP, won 62 games last season, and are just a piece away from making the leap to getting to the championship. We want you to be the missing piece of the puzzle. What do you think?”
If I’m a free agent and am looking for a contending team to sign with, why wouldn’t I sign with the Bulls? What’s not to love about what this team is doing? But then again, I also thought LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh would be crazy not to come to Chicago, but I’m not going to get into that.
The Bulls managed to have the leagues best record a season ago without landing King James or D Wade. Derrick Rose transformed from star to superstar, resulting in an MVP award. They found a coach in Tom Thibodeau who won coach of the year and turned around a Bulls organization in just his first season as coach. This is the team to come to.
While last season was as magical a season as I’ve seen since I have been a Bulls fan, I wasn’t satisfied (I was very young during the Jordan years). I wanted that ring. I wanted to get past the Heat. Losing four straight games after winning game one was painful, and I’m still not over it. You can bet that Derrick Rose wants to come back even hungrier and get past the Heat.
He’s not the kind of guy who is going to recruit free agents to come to the Windy City. If available players are smart, they will want to play with Rose. He’s that special. In fact, he didn’t even try to recruit LeBron or Wade because that’s not his style.
Derrick Rose said, “My whole goal this year is to win a championship,” and it’s not a fantasy. Not with Rose leading this team it’s not.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.