The Chicago Bulls without Derrick Rose opened the pre-season Tuesday against the Memphis Grizzlies with a 92-88 win. Returning starters: Luol Deng (18 pts.), Richard Hamilton (13 pts.), Joakim Noah (10 pts.), and Carlos Boozer(6 pts.) contributed, and will be expected to keep stepping it up trying to replace Derrick Rose's 15.3 avg. points. With their solid start the key concern for the starters is to stay healthy, as surprisingly, injury prone Boozer was the only one not out with an injury last year. Secondly, someone new will have to contribute for the Bulls to stand a chance to get to the post-season, even if Rose returns, which the Bulls will need to advance.
The biggest concern for the Bulls is, when or if Rose will return from torn ACL and MCL injuries to his left knee. Other minor issues will be the adjustment and chemistry with the team before and after Rose returns, and personally will Rose still be his old quick and agile self, especially in his forte cutting.
Head Coach Tom Thibideau noted for his defense received his contract extension is ready to get his six new acquisitions on board. One of his hardest jobs will be to manage, as he calls them, his "point guard by committee." When to play aging Kirk Hinrich (5 pts.), who probably will be starting as he did Tues., bring in Nate Robinson off the bench to jumpstart the offense with 13 pts., and when rookies Marques Teague and Ryan Allen will be ready.
The addition of center Nazr Muhammed who recorded 13 points and league record 12 rebounds against the Grizzliesto aid on the boards, Noah can concentrate on his offensive reportoire. Adding a hook to his arsenal and playing off the block more after working with Kareem Abdu-Jabbar this summer will be a bonus.
For success some of the extras will have to put some quality time to rest up the starters. Some of last year's help off the bench is gone, like John Lucas III, Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, and Omar Asik. Hopefully, Forward Taj Gibson will still be a spark. Extras like swingman Jimmy Butler, Guard Marco Belinelli, Center Kyrylo Fesenko, Forward Vladimir Radmanovic, Guard Marko Jaric, and Guard Andre Emmett must contribute. If they don't, look for some mid-season trades.
The Chicago Bulls' roster translates into a good team with the potential of making it into the postseason as a top four seed and Rose showing up on Media Day with a positive attitude is very encouraging. After going 18-9 last year, the Bulls proved they can win without Rose but this is a revamped and unproven roster.