Bulls need more than Rose to contend

Bryer Lehr, IV Leader columnist

I’ll never forget watching the Bulls’ first playoff game last April. The game was well in hand and I was watching only because there was nothing else on at the time. That’s when Derrick Rose hit the floor and sent all of Illinois into a panic. Two hours later, the news came out that the reigning MVP had torn his ACL and the rest of the playoffs were a blur.
About seven months later, that injury is hurting worse than ever. It doesn’t help that what used to be known as “the Bench Mob” is now missing CJ Watson, Kyle Korver, Omer Asik and anyone else who was any good outside of Taj Gibson, but at this point of the season the Bulls are brutal to watch.  This couldn’t have been more apparent in what appeared to be a blowout loss against the Milwaukee Bucks.
The defensive intensity is still there, but with the loss of all the key defenders from last season the results aren’t as good. Offensively, the Rose injury has exposed the lack of firepower on the roster. Luol Deng is best off as a second or third option, Carlos Boozer lacks consistency and disappears in big situations, and Rip Hamilton is well beyond his prime. That leaves Joakim Noah, who is best as an offensive rebounder and complimentary scorer, not a primary option. Off the bench, Nate Robinson is entertaining sometimes and Marco Belinelli is a cheap, less effective version of Korver. Meanwhile, Kirk Hinrich isn’t the player he was in his first stint with the Bulls, which makes him a less effective version of what used to be just an average player.
While putting a solid bench back together would be a nice start, it has been clear that when Rose returns from his injury the Bulls will need to add another elite player alongside him to get over the top. With the current core, the Bulls have already failed to get past the Miami Heat and albeit Rose was missing there was not even enough firepower to beat the offensively challenged 76ers.
While upgrades are going to be needed, simply the addition of Rose would make the Bulls a factor in a weak year for the Eastern Conference. But for the fans’ sake, they shouldn’t be worried about whether or not they can win this year because they can’t. The fans should be hoping to get their star back just so the Chicago Bulls can be an enjoyable team to watch again.