This entire season for the Bulls has been plagued by injuries to some of their biggest key players. If you were to look at their record, however, you would never know it.
Richard Hamilton has missed 32 games, Derrick Rose has missed 14, and Luol Deng has missed 9. Yet, the Bulls still have the NBA’s best overall record at 38-10. They are the definition of a true team.
In Hamilton’s place, Ronnie Brewer has done more than step up his game. He has become one of the best defensive players in the league, while also greatly improving his offensive game. His confidence has sky-rocketed this season on the offensive end, and it is very noticeable every time he handles the ball. He is simply no longer afraid to drive to the hoop or take a shot.
When Luol Deng has missed games due to his wrist injury, once again Ronnie Brewer has been the man to take his place at small forward. Moving into Brewer’s place at shooting guard with Deng and Hamilton out of the lineup has been Kyle Korver. While Korver has been a bit of a streaky shooter at times, he has still been consistently finding ways to get his job done. Even Korver, an offensive player, has really stepped up his defensive game this year.
Taking the place of Derrick Rose lately has been a combination of C.J. Watson and John Lucas. I don’t think the Bulls could be any happier with the way these two have played in Rose’s absence, especially Lucas. Last week when the Bulls took on the Heat at the United Center without Rose in the lineup, Watson and Lucas combined to score 35 points, with Lucas scoring 24. The Bulls won that game 106-102. Without the MVP in their lineup, the Bulls have won some big games and have now improved their record to 10-4 with tonight’s win in Orlando.
The Bulls ran away with tonight’s game by destroying the Magic 85-59, again without Rose. I posted a blog a before the NBA trade deadline saying that the Bulls shouldn’t trade for Dwight Howard, and this is why. Even without their best player in Derrick Rose, the Bulls have been able to get some huge victories. They have gotten these wins because of the depth of their team and the all around contributions from every player on their roster. Every player on the Bulls understands their role on the team, whether it’s to play top-notch defense (which is the case for most of the guys), or provide scoring on the offensive end. They outwork, out-hustle, out-rebound, and even more importantly, play better as an entire team than any other franchise in the NBA. The Bulls are the epitome of a true team.
Much, if not all of this credit, should be given to head coach Tom Thibodeau. He has gotten every one of his players to believe in his system and philosophies. Even with all of the injuries that have been suffered this year by the Bulls, Thibodeau has kept his team together and gotten them to give their best effort night in and night out. He won the Coach of the Year Award last year, and should win it again this year. However, the NBA doesn’t like to hand out one award to the same person two years in a row.
From Watson to Lucas, Brewer to Korver, Gibson to Asik, as well as the rest of the Bulls roster, each player is doing their job, and doing it well. The Bulls have the best record in the NBA not just because they also have the league’s best point guard, but because they are the best team in basketball.
Thanks for reading.