COMMENTARY | The Chicago Bulls have one goal in mind next season-to win a championship. With Derrick Rose back in the fold, the Bulls are expected to challenge the Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers for Eastern Conference supremacy. However, in spite of Rose’s return to the court and the addition of a few players who can shoot the ball from distance-Mike Dunleavy, Tony Snell and Erik Murphy, the Bulls will be without one key player from the 2012-13 roster: Nate Robinson.
You remember Mr. Robinson, don’t you? This is the player who is often referred to as a shoot-first point guard who does little to get his teammates involved offensively. During last season, Robinson’s averages included 12.4 points and 3.7 assists per outing coming off the bench. As a starter, those numbers improved to 14.8 points and 6.1 assists per contest. These are pretty impressive numbers considering that he was often the smallest player on the court.
If you thought his performance during the regular season was merely a fluke, you would be incorrect. Robinson was even more impressive in the postseason. In 12 playoff games for Chicago, he averaged 16.3 points and 4.4 assists per contest-making him second on the team in both statistical categories.
One of the most memorable outings that Bulls fans will remember came in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Brooklyn Nets. The Bulls trailed by double digits late in the fourth quarter, and defeat appeared to be imminent. However, Robinson lead the Bulls on an improbable comeback, scoring 23 points in the fourth quarter, helping Chicago send the game into overtime. While it would take three additional overtime periods before the outcome was finally decided, the Bulls came out on top 142-134. That win would not have been possible without Robinson on the court.
Another playoff game from last season that comes to mind is Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Heat. No one gave Chicago much of a chance against a well-rested Heat team that swept through the first round of the playoffs. Once again, Chicago trailed in the fourth quarter, and once again, Robinson came to the rescue. He scored 27 points for the game, including seven of the team’s last 10 points in the fourth quarter, helping Chicago stun Miami 93-86. While Chicago went on to lose the next four games, the Game 1 victory does not happen without Nate Robinson in the lineup.
There is no doubt that the Bulls will win a lot of games this upcoming season with the return of Derrick Rose, and a compliment of healthy players. Unfortunately, the regular season is not where championships are won. The postseason is where champions are declared, and the teams that win titles, do so because they are able to make plays on both ends of the floor during the late stages of tightly-contested games. When you look at this roster, there are a bunch of talented players, but not many of them can create their own shot in clutch situations with great consistency. This is the area where the Bulls will Robinson the most.
James Tillman III is a resident of the Chicago-land area, who has followed the Bulls since the 1987-88 season. James is currently a sports contributor for various sites such as Sports Rantz Magazine and Sports Kings/Pass the Pill. James is also a former Featured Sports Contributor for Yahoo! Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @jtillman9693