At this point, all that’s left for Bulls is Derrick Rose’s return

Derrick Rose sure picked a good time to talk to the Chicago media about his medical/playing status. Bears free agency buzz has taken center stage, relegating Rose’s return to the backburner. Still, a Rose update shouldn’t be treated as such.

I know some people are sick of Rose Watch, but I can’t understand why. Rose’s return to the line-up is the one thing Bulls fans have left to watch in this season. After 63 games (with No. 64 slated for tonight at Sacramento) we know who the Bulls are and what they can (and cannot) do. All that’s left is to see what happens when Rose returns, and not just to see what Rose can do on a repaired ligament.

You want to see how productive a Rose-Belinelli tandem can be in the backcourt. While he lacks Kyle Korver’s 3-point marksmanship, Belinelli has played to my expectations and to what his averages have been the last few years.

Belinelli’s field goal percentage is down 1.1 percentage points from last year and 3.1 percentage points from the 43.7 percent mark he posted in his most productive year in 2010-11, the Bulls (and their fans) can take solace in Belinelli’s improvement at the free-throw line. Belinelli is shooting a career-best 84.2 percent from the charity stripe, an increase of 5.9 percentage points from last year and 4.2 percentage point increase compared to his previous three years.

You want to see if Joakim Noah can maintain his pace with Rose on the floor with him, right? Don’t you want to see whether or not Noah’s increased scoring production is a result of shots being available because Rose isn’t there to shoot or because everyone else is shooting at such a low clip, which is allowing for more offensive rebounds and second-chance opportunities. Noah’s shots per game and offensive rebound percentage has picked up this year. Though, I can’t explain the career-high 4.1 assists per game, considering this team’s shooting struggles.

I can’t help but wonder if Rose’s presence on the floor open space for more Belinelli shooting room. Belinelli’s shots per game is down to 8.3 after being at 10.4 in 2011-12. His career average is around 7.7 and his last three years is hovering in the 8s, so what you see is what you get from Belinelli.

You want to see if the bench would see a boost with Kirk Hinrich/Nate Robinson/Jimmy Butler anchoring the second unit. I’d be interested to see Robinson put in an environment where he plays at a position more fitting of his skills and tendencies (read: shooting guard) with Hinrich facilitating the second-string offense.

Also would be interesting to see if head coach Tom Thibodeau would play Rose and Robinson — the only two guys on the roster who can create their own shot — at the same time down the stretch.

While the headline clearly states all that’s left is Rose’s return, a simple moment of analysis allows you to realize that there are subplots lingering beneath the story. Hence, the story of Rose’s return is The Story until further notice.

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