[dropcap]L[/dropcap]et’s all have a moment of silence for Derrick Rose. Though he has not passed away, his career might have. It was announced on Feb. 24 that the former MVP tore his meniscus and will again have to miss a number of weeks because of the injury. It’s a story that has been written about and analyzed many times over and is just sad.
Rose is only 26 years old and has carried himself very well so far in the NBA, which makes this event all the more heartbreaking. The prognosis shows that Rose may still be able to play during the final games of season and playoffs, but in order to sustain success he will need to change up his game. Gone are the days where he can just smash and grab to basket. Rose will need to concentrate on slowing his game down and outthinking opponents, as opposed to plowing through other teams. In the meantime, the Chicago Bulls still have a lot of basketball to play and they will need their background players to step up.
Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol and Jimmy Butler (who hyper extended his elbow during the March 1 96-86 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers and is also expected to miss three to six weeks) have shown that they are capable of pushing themselves during crunch time. But these players alone can’t save the team. There have been a few players that have stepped up over the past few weeks, which will need to happen again down the road.
Nikola Mirotic was a Spanish League MVP, so there was a lot of hype when he signed with the Bulls in 2014. His NBA career started off slow, but as soon as 2015 rolled around, his game got better. He was named the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month in January and, as of March 1, has averaged 13.4 points per game through the previous five games, including a career high 29 points against the Clippers on March 1. The 29-point game was an anomaly, but in order for the Bulls to thrive, Mirotic will need to up his 7.2 points per game average this season. It might seem like a lot to ask for the 24-year-old rookie, but not when you consider the flashes of greatness he has shown in the NBA as well as his achievements in the Spanish League. We all would like Mirotic to turn into a Pau Gasol success story, but patience is not something the Bulls can afford right now. The team needs to alter their game and go into win-now mode if they want to have a shot at the Championship this season.
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