By Wesley Kaminsky
If there is one thing every person in the sports world know about the Chicago Bulls, it’s that their championship hopes lie squarely on the shoulders of reigning MVP, Derrick Rose. After missing just six games throughout his first two seasons in the NBA, Rose has already missed eight games this season due to turf toe and back spasms. With his lingering back spasms, Rose went to see a back specialist on Monday, who revealed that there was no structural damage.
Rose went on to say, “This back pain should be behind me in a couple of days. I should be back out there in a couple days. I’m going to take my time and be smart.”
You have to believe that much of this is due to the incredibly condensed season. It seems like there have been more injuries this season than in recent memory. Luckily for the Bulls, they have depth, and lots of it. They have four players averaging in double figures not named Derrick Rose, and one of the best defensive frontcourts in the NBA. Guys like Taj Gibson and Omer Asik are a luxury to have off the bench and have logged heavy minutes this season in the fourth quarter in front of both Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer. In Rose’s absence, the Bulls have gone 6-2, with their only losses coming on the road in Memphis and Boston. C.J. Watson has filled in nicely for Rose, as he’s averaging 14.6 points per game in games he has started.
Rose isn’t the only Bull who has had to suffer through injuries though. Luol Deng, who leads the team in minutes per game (38.1) missed seven games with a torn ligament in his left wrist. Choosing not to get surgery though, Deng is back and will likely have to play through pain the rest of the season. Richard Hamilton, who was signed before the season to fill the Bulls void at shooting guard has been dealing with a groin injury all season and has played in just 11 games. With Hamilton, they need to get him ready for the playoffs, which was the main reason they signed him. He’s a championship player who has the most playoff experience on this Bulls team. He knows what it takes to win.
As for Rose, the Bulls have five straight home games coming up, with Rose’s status up in the air for tonight against the Celtics. Even with injuries to Rose and Deng, the Bulls still lead the NBA in wins with 24, and hold the top spot in the Eastern Conference. As to whether Rose will suit up for the All-Star game, Tom Thibodeau will likely have a say in that. Thibodeau will be coaching the Eastern Conference on a team that includes both Rose and Luol Deng.
Just like last year, the Bulls are winning with their depth and defense. I get the feeling that as long as Tom Thibodeau is around, this is something that will become familiar in the Windy City.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.