In all likelihood Derrick Rose’s potential return to the Chicago Bulls for the upcoming NBA postseason would be a useless endeavor. Rose who has not played since tearing his ACL in the first game of last season’s Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the Philadelphia 76ers would not be in game shape when the playoffs begin on April 20th. His lack of game activity this season would put him at a disadvantage, as he would be playing against men who have been active all season and ready for the rigors of the postseason.
Anyone who follows the NBA knows the game changes when the playoffs arrive each spring. Games become more physical and mentally demanding, often testing the endurance limit of the players competing to win a NBA championship. It would be unfair of the Bulls to insert Rose into the lineup at this time.
What could realistically be expected from Rose? Certainly not the All-Star and Most Valuable Player type of performance he exhibited between 2010 and 2012. A more likely scenario would be Rose having the endurance to play between ten and fifteen minutes a game with mixed results. Sometimes he would be able to show his greatness while at other times struggling to find his game.
More importantly, reintroducing Rose to the rotation now would change the dynamic of the team and potentially disrupt the chemistry his teammates have developed to this point in the season. When he is on the court the Bulls offense is centered on Rose dominating the ball and creating scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates by penetrating to the basket. With Rose injured at the beginning of the season, Head Coach Tom Thibodeau constructed an offense that focuses on the interior play of Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer and augmented by the quality perimeter shooting and defense of Luol Deng, Kirk Hinrich, Nate Robinson, Jimmy Butler, Marco Belinelli and Richard Hamilton.
This strategy does not cater to Rose’s strengths. Inserting him now would mean that Thibodeau would have to make a decision to either revert back to a system that caters to Rose, or continue with the strategy he has used the entire season. Either choice would almost certainly create dysfunction and disrupt the rhythm of the team. Rose would have difficulty fitting into a system where he does not dominate the ball on offense and his teammates would have a difficult time adjusting to a style that is different from what they have been doing since the season began.
At this point the window of time to successfully integrate Rose back into the Bulls rotation has passed. The smart decision for the Bulls regarding Rose’s future and the team’s immediate playoff success is to keep Rose out of the lineup until next season. The Bulls as constituted without Rose have the ability to compete with and defeat any team in the Eastern Conference playoffs, because of their size in the paint and ability to defend the perimeter. This fact should make it easier for Rose and the Bulls to resist the temptation of returning this season and instead wait until next year when they can develop together and contend for the 2014 NBA championship.