Bicky (@OldManBikshorn, you really should read his thoughts/rants) did a great job of explaining Roses and Thorns in his Thorns post, but to recap quickly: Roses and Thorns is an activity we used to do as campers where you chose a highlight and lowlight of the day. And we like puns. Now that we got that out of the way, I’m going to handle the “rosier” aspects of the Bulls offseason and 2013-14 prospects. DISCLAIMER: I can be a very pessimistic person! This article will not reflect a balanced, level view of how I’m looking at the Bulls future (although I am, relatively, rosy about it). Instead, I’ll just be highlighting the more exciting developments to keep an eye on. If you need your fix of pessimism, I can guarantee you Bick’s got your back with the Thorns post. On to the delightful Roses…
Rose #1: This one’s pretty obvious isn’t it? DERRICK FUCKING ROSE! Excuse my screaming, but god damn it who isn’t excited for that first dribble drive of the preseason? To state the utterly obvious, the Bulls missed Rose’s presence badly this season. While the defense was largly unaffected (by Rose’s absence; the absences of wing-stopper Ronnie Brewer and Turkish hammer Omer Asik were glaring occasionally), the Bulls offense struggled mightily without any true shot-creators besides Good Nate. Jump shooters like Marco Belinelli and Luol Deng were forced to take more difficult shots without Rose slicing through the paint and dishing the ball out. If Rose can even return to 75-80% of his MVP form, the Bulls are almost instantly the 2nd or 3rd best team in the conference, depending on how good you think the Pacers are (they’re very good). With well over a year to recover, it’s reasonable to assume Rose will be back with a vengeance. Yay!!!
Rose #2: Good Nate. It seems pretty unlikely that the Bulls resign Nate Robinson, as he’s rightfully earned a bigger payday than the front office would prefer to dish out. So I think it’s only right that we take a moment to enjoy the run Nate gave us. His 34 point performance in only 29 (!) minutes of the Bulls Game 4 triple OT win over the Nets will not be forgotten any time soon. The 29 minutes blow my mind because Kirk Hinrich played 60 (out of 63!) minutes in that game and hasn’t played since. But we’ll save that for the Thorns.
Rose #3: Another year closer to getting rid of Carlos Boozer. Look, the guy’s come up big a few times and when you squint a little bit his stats look pretty good…but let’s not forget he was our consolation prize after losing the Big 3 Sweepstakes. It’s not impossible for the Bulls to trade Boozer, or perhaps make another move that would open up an amnesty on him this summer. However, I think Bulls fans should prepare for one more year of Boozer. Why is this a Rose? Because Boozer is fucking entertaining! AND ONE! GIMME DAT SHIT! AHHHHHH!!!!!!
Rose #4: The continued emergence of Jimmy Butler. Can’t say enough about this dude. He played just over 8 minutes per game as a 22 year old rookie, and was afraid to take most open 3s, let alone make them. Flash forward one year later, and Jimmy B is playing entire games without breaks while pacing the Bulls in 3 point shooting. Not to mention playing All-NBA level defense on scrubs like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade (wait). As important as Luol Deng has been to the Bulls the last few seasons, Jimmy has quickly and surprisingly made Deng expendable—and everyone in Chicago, Deng included, knows it. That’s a pretty impressive feat for the 30th pick of the 2011 draft.
Rose #5: Joakim fuckin’ Noah. Bulls fans have known for a long time that Noah’s energy and annoyingness are unmatched among NBA brethren (http://www.theonion.com/articles/bitter-feud-developing-between-joakim-noah-rest-of,32444/). However, this season he blossomed into a true All-Star and a legitimate Defensive POY candidate. Noah set career highs in points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks and FT% this season while also playing the most minutes of his career. When plantar fasciitis took its toll late in the season, Noah struggled. Yet somehow, he shook off the pain midway through the first round and led Chicago to an upset of Brooklyn and a dogfight against Miami. Going into this season, Bulls fans were willing to throw Noah’s name around recklessly in Dwight Howard trade fantasies and whatnot. Now? I’m not so sure.
Rose #6: Offseason improvements. Not so fast—let’s just say I’ll let @OldManBikshorn (FOLLOW HIM!!!!) handle our outlook on this summer’s free agency and trade prospects. However, the offseason is a great time for young players to work on their game. I’m most looking forward to seeing how Derrick Rose has evolved his game in the wake of his major injury. With so much time off, I’m expecting to see a few more tricks up his sleeve. Jimmy Butler, who improved so much in his first offseason, will have plenty more time to get back at it this summer. Continued work on his solid 3-point shot will do wonders for a Bulls team that desperately craves floor spacing. And for some guys, the rest of the offseason will do wonders. Joakim would never admit it but he can surely use some time to smoke pot rest his foot. Luol Deng, fresh off a near death experience, could certainly use a real offseason after LEADING THE OLYMPICS IN MINUTES last summer. Seriously. I didn’t realize Thibs moonlighted as Great Britain’s coach too.
Rose #7: Tom Thibodeau is such a huge part of the Bulls’ past and future success. So much so, that I think he deserves a whole post in the future.
Rose #8: No more Rip Hamilton. Rip’s a Hall of Famer (DISCLAIMER: BIKSHORN DOES NOT AGREE WITH THIS STATEMENT), and I won’t soon forget the effort he gave in games 4 and 5 against Miami when nothing was expected of him. However, he was signed to be the answer at shooting guard and couldn’t stay on the court consistently at all the past two seasons. For $5 million a year, that was an air ball. Opening up the rotation next year will be exciting with Jimmy Butler slated in as the opening day starter at the 2.
Well, this ran a little long, but like I said—I’m pretty rosy on the Bulls’ future. They have an MVP, All-Star talent to surround him, and a recent Coach of the Year. What’s not to like? (If you do not believe that ignorance is bliss, please check out Bicky’s “Thorns” post here: https://drosesandthorns.wordpress.com/2013/05/30/bulls-off-season-preview-its-looking-a-bit-thorny-by-jacob-bikshorn/ . There is, unfortunately, also stuff not to like).