Face Off: The D-Rose era, part two

By Jacob Onak

With the 2013-14 preseason starting up on Saturday, the Chicago Bulls will continue to look for a championship ring in the Derrick Rose/Tom Thibodeau era.

Sports Editor Jacob Onak and sports reporter Brian Earle debate what the expectations of the Bulls should be.

Jacob Onak: The biggest boost the Bulls will get this season is the return of Derrick Rose, obviously. But do you believe it will be enough to get the Bulls to the finals?

Brian Earle: This is the most excited Bulls fans have been for the start of a season in a long time. Expectations are high for the return of a healthy Rose, and I hate to say it but I don’t think that will be enough. The Bulls’ starting lineup will look better with the insertion of Jimmy Butler at shooting guard, but that move, along with the departure of spark-plug Nate Robinson, is a big blow to the bench mob.

JO: Is there even a bench mob left? I feel like other than Butler, who might not even come off the bench anymore, Chicago’s bench seems a little dull. I don’t believe Kirk Hinrich or the newly acquired Mike Dunleavy will be able to spark the Bulls’ offense like Marco Belinelli or Robinson did last year. Taj Gibson can bring a spark, but last season he was plagued by injuries. That brings up another point: Can guys like Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and Gibson can remain healthy this year?

BE: Health is always a concern when you’re talking about the Chicago Bulls. It’s a team that didn’t take the floor once last season with its entire starting lineup. Rose missed the whole season while Deng and Noah were constantly playing through injuries and Gibson, Hinrich and Carlos Boozer were battling through injuries all season. Health will never be more important for the Bulls than it will be this season, especially with the departure of key players from their bench last season. Staying healthy is a necessity for the Bulls to be successful this season.

JO: Speaking of Boozer, do you believe he has some Bulls fans on his side this season? Boozer was a big part of the team’s success last year, and he even played a little defense in some crucial games.

BE: If Boozer doesn’t perform this season, it will be a long winter in Chicago for him. With the return of Rose, there is more pressure to win now and Boozer will have to play his A game all season on both sides of the ball.

However, my main concern for how far the Bulls can go does not even involve them. It comes down to how much better the top teams in the East got. Miami added two pieces that could potentially have a huge impact in Greg Oden and Michael Beasley. Indiana gets back a healthy Danny Granger and the Brooklyn Nets have become a serious contender with the additions of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry. These teams’ improvements have a huge impact on how far the Bulls can go this season.

JO: I completely agree. Even Detroit has added some fire power with Brandon Jennings, which not only makes the Bulls’ division harder, but also adds to the difficulty of making the playoffs. I think the biggest thing Bulls fans need to realize is success won’t come overnight just because Rose is back. He missed a full year. He hasn’t gotten into game rhythm and he hasn’t gotten into the rhythm with his teammates he had before his injury. There are a lot of question marks about this team that the average fan doesn’t realize.

BE: I agree with that. Even with a healthy D-Rose back, the road to the Eastern Conference finals, let alone the NBA Finals, will be a tough one. The Bulls division is full of talent with the Pacers at the top of the list, and the Heat have proven they can handle the Bulls even with a healthy Rose. This season will be a process, and in the end — as it has been the last couple of seasons — it will come down to whether or not the Bulls can stay healthy for an entire season. Then they may have a shot.