How Important Is Derrick Rose to the Chicago Bulls?

What does a detailed look at the team's success with and without Rose reveal?

Once upon a time, Derrick Rose was entrusted to be the savior of a wilting franchise.

Rose helped transform the Chicago Bulls into a familiar winning force, as he quickly became the undisputed leader of the team. Rose made the city of Chicago believe that maybe, just maybe, he could be the successor to Number 23.

We all know what happened next.

Despite the habitual inactivity of Rose, the Bulls have managed to compile a winning record without him. The ex-MVP has undoubtedly been slipping in the dependency department, which makes you wonder if the team's former need for Rose is now merely a want

Let's take a look at some fun-colored graphs which help illustrate Rose's importance to the Bulls.

The Team

Being slightly over par may seem pitiful, but in the Eastern Conference it’ll almost guarantee you a playoff spot.

In the past 15 years, only one team in the East (the 2004-05 Cavaliers) has failed to advance to the playoffs with a record better than .500. The Bulls have been at or above the .500 threshold for 10 out of the last 11 seasons, including seven years in a row.

Over the past three seasons, the Bulls have won 38 out of 61 games (.623) with Rose in the lineup. Over that same timespan, the Bulls have won 105 out of 185 games (.568) without their prized point guard.

There is a staggering difference between the number of games played with Rose and without Rose, yet the Bulls have still been comfortably better than .500 without Rose in the lineup.

The Backups

Chicago's reserve point guards have filled some big shoes rather snugly. Two years ago, it was D.J. Augustin who surprised many by averaging 14.9 points, 5 assists, and over two 3-pointers made per game while shooting 41% from long-range.

Last season, Aaron Brooks stepped in and played all 82 contests, averaging 11.6 points and 3.2 assists in just 23 minutes a game. Over the past two seasons combined, veteran Kirk Hinrich pitched in as a facilitator with per game averages of 7.5 points and 3.12 assists in 26.7 minutes of play.

Although their individual stats may not have turned many heads, Augustin and Brooks helped carry the load in their respective years and contributed towards the resilient success of the Bulls. 

The Core

Whenever Rose has been out, the Bulls have been led by their sturdy trio of Taj Gibson, Joakim Noah, and Jimmy Butler. These three workhorses have stayed healthy enough to cover up holes left by a hampered Rose.

Gibson is the Bulls' leader in total games played (490) since the 2009-2010 season, whereas Rose ranks sixth (293) during the same time frame. Noah has been the highest regular season Win Shares generator for the Bulls in four out of his eight years ('09-'10, '11-'14), whereas Rose has only led the team once ('10-'11) in seven seasons.

Last season, Butler’s ever-growing prowess as an all-around stud became more evident after he led the league in minutes per game (38.7), whereas Rose averaged a career-low in minutes per game (30).

The Future

The Bulls will be welcoming new head coach Fred Hoiberg and his refreshing brand of offense. Will his motion-centric, uptempo style of play ignite Rose to a previously-known state? Or will Rose continue his peek-a-boo act and allow his team to bloom without him?

The Bulls' front office will be needing to make some huge decisions coming up in free agency. After already signing Butler to a hefty extension this summer, their next priority is to secure Noah before the end of the season. Rose, Gibson, and Pau Gasol will be in the same boat at the end of the 2017 season.

Considering Rose's past, two years may be too long for the Bulls to make a decision on Rose. At the 41-minute mark of this episode of The Bill Simmons Podcast, Simmons entertained the possibility that Rose could be dealt to the New York Knicks via trade next year. Even if Rose bounces back and proves his worth in the upcoming season, it wouldn't be illogical for the Bulls to entertain trade offers, would it?

Decisions, decisions, decisions...