Even without Derrick Rose, the Bulls are one of the top teams in the Eastern… (Jim Young/Reuters )
If you were looking for a reason why the Bulls have been so successful without Derrick Rose, you could go in a number of directions.
You could credit coach Tom Thibodeau and the "defense first" and "next man up" mentality he has instilled. You could look at the emergence of Jimmy Butler and the infusion of energy that is Nate Robinson. You could look at Luol Deng's consistency and the improvement that turned Joakim Noah into an All-Star.
But the player you might not have thought of is Carlos Boozer.
Since late December, Booz has stepped his game up, at one point racking up 12 double-doubles out of 15 games. His play (15.7 points, 9.6 rebounds per game) is a big reason the Bulls are near the top of the Central Division and the Eastern Conference.
Boozer has taken a lot of heat from fans since coming to Chicago in the summer of 2010, but it's hard to have any issues with his play this season and the responsibility he's taken to ensure the Bulls achieve success.
"I just want to win more games," he said. "I think, to a man, we didn't finish 2012 the way we wanted to. And to a man, we wanted to play better—I wanted to play better."
"I feel like I have a lot of potential. Thibs has been running a lot more plays for me, giving me more minutes. I think when you're on the court more, you have more of a chance to be effective for your team."
All the Bulls share one goal: holding things together until Rose comes back. Boozer is no different. While many have speculated that it'll be an adjustment for Rose and his teammates once he does return, Boozer doesn't foresee any problems.
"No, I don't think so," he said. "I think if anything, we'll be a lot more dangerous, I'll tell you that. He's a great player, and he'll be able to jump right in. He's already going through everything we do in practice almost, anyway. So I think he'll fit right in and to be honest, I think it'll be seamless."
Bryan Crawford is a RedEye special contributor.
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