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Sunday, January 29, 2012
Why Bulls fans needn't worry about injuries

By Ernest Tolden, ESPN Stats & Information

Over the past few weeks, some of the Chicago Bulls' key players have been hit with the injury bug. Starting point guard and reigning league MVP Derrick Rose has been nursing turf toe on his left foot. Big men Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson are nursing ankle injuries and starting small forward Luol Deng has a torn ligament in his non-shooting wrist that has kept him sidelined the past few games, and maybe longer.

The Bulls, who currently lead the Eastern Conference by two games over the Miami Heat, should be able to stay afloat. Below are three reasons that Bulls fans shouldn’t be worried.

Bench mob
Kyle Korver
Korver
The Bulls are one of the deepest teams in the league with reserves who play specific roles on both ends of the court.

Kyle Korver continues to be one of the best shooters in the NBA, primarily in spot-up situations. His 1.30 points per play leads the team and ranks fifth in the NBA among players with at least 40 spot-up plays this season. Korver is fourth in the NBA in three-point field goals off the bench with 28.

Backup point guard C.J. Watson has developed into a reliable floor general behind Rose. He leads the Bulls’ primary bench players in scoring, averaging 7.7 points in games he’s come off the bench. Watson has also been one of the Bulls’ best spot-up shooters; he’s second behind Korver on the team with 1.22 points per play in spot-up situations.

Inside, Omer Asik and Taj Gibson continue to be the Bulls’ defensive enforcers. Their 26 blocks each are tied for second in the NBA among players in games they did not start.

Defense
The Bulls’ defense remain one of the best in the NBA. This season, they're allowing just 87.0 points per game, the fewest in the league.

Chicago is fourth in the NBA in opponents’ points per play (0.81) and sixth in opponents' score percentage (39.6) in the half court.

The Bulls have also limited their opponents' production close to the basket, allowing an NBA-low 49.6 points per game within 10 feet of the rim.

Derrick Rose
Above all, Rose remains the key to the Bulls holding their season together. His scoring average is down from 25.0 points last season to 21.9 points this season, but he’s become more efficient in the offense, attempting fewer shots and averaging a career-high 7.9 assists.

Being the ball handler in the pick and roll has become Rose’s specialty. He’s scoring 1.02 points per play in that type of offense, ranking fourth in the NBA among players with at least 50 plays. Rose has also increased his shooting percentage (49.0) and percentage of plays he’s scored (48.1) as the pick and roll ball handler to almost 50 percent.