One of the most regrettable things about Derrick Rose's injury(right up there with giving us this depressing off-season) was that it denied us Bulls fans a chance to see the best post Jordan Bulls team make a deep playoff run. It also denied the vocal minority of that fan base who feel the Bulls don't need another star to be a title contender a chance to be proven right. I was one of those people. I will argue why I feel like the Bulls don't(or didn't) need another star to compete for a title, but I should first specify my translation of star as others use it. Star refers to either a superstar (top 8-10 player) or an offensive minded All-Star (James Harden, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh etc.)
The most important aspect of this topic is the word need. While it would be awesome to replace Rip Hamilton with James Harden, need suggests the Bulls have no hope of winning a title without making such a substitution. I am not entirely sure if the Bulls will be able to contend next year (too many unknowns), but they for damn sure could have won a title this year if healthy. I usually don't draw lines in the sand, but if you thought they needed James Harden or Eric Gordon to get past the Heat this year you weren't paying attention. The thought is the Bulls needed help offensively to get past the Heat, but using points per possession(and really you should its the best overall team offensive statistic out there) the Bulls were a slightly better offensive team than the Heat during the regular season and that gap widened when you look at the 38 games Rose played in. In a 7 game series I would rather have the Heat offense, but the Bulls had narrowed the gap significantly since the last series they played and when you factor in the edge the Bulls had in rebounding and defense the Bulls could have easily been the favorite. Of course people get way too wrapped up in star counting to acknowledge this (looking at you Friedell). If going into the next post season the The Thunder improved their 9th ranked defense to 3rd and maintained a top 2 offense while posting the best record and point differential in the NBA they would be favored to win the title right? Swap offense with defense and the Bulls did the same thing this past year (using PPP as the stat and weighing Bulls stats heavily towards 'with Rose'.) It would be very hard to argue that the Bulls, in addition to having the best record and point differential in the NBA, didn't have the best blend of offense and defense in the NBA. I don't want to do the research, but I would like to find the last team with top 5 offensive and defensive efficiency, to go along with best record and point differential, who didn't at least go the NBA finals. *Also for all the talk about how close the Heat-Thunder series was, a lesser Bulls team played the Heat closer the year before
The other important thing to remember is that the Bulls already have another All-Star on their team. No I am not referring Luol Deng or Carlos Boozer, I am referring to Joakim Noah. Joakim Noah has never made an All-Star team, but you would have a hard time finding a better all-around center than Joakim Noah. He is an A- defender and despite the fact that no one thinks much of his offense he is a skilled passer and one of the better shooting centers in the league. The average fan thinks of Joakim Noah as a nice player and Chris Bosh as an all-star, but Noah sported a higher PER this year and is universally regarded as a better defender, though Chris Bosh certainly isn't bad. Don't get me wrong, if the Bulls were constructed as a team with Noah and Rose as their only upper tier players they would be in trouble, but they also have a productive forward in Boozer and excellent two way wing in Deng and a killer defensive duo coming off the bench in Asik and Gibson.I understand star counting to an extent, but too many are blinded by it. It's silly when a guy like Nick Friedell completely ignores results and indicators for future success, because he is wrapped up in something as comparatively trivial as talent distribution.
What does this mean going forward? It means that Bulls shouldn't tear apart a juggernaut (any more than they already have anyway) in pursuit of a star player they don't need (or already have).