Originally posted on Crossover Chronicles  |  Last updated 7/29/12

Anyone else sort of forget about the Chicago Bulls? After their first-round exit from the playoffs this year, it’s easy to let it slip your mind that they’ve posted the best regular season record in the NBA the last two seasons. Of course, losing the reigning MVP in your first playoff game is going to make things tough, but some think the Bulls may have missed their window.

Don’t tell that to Joakim Noah though. The Bulls’ center thinks his team will be ready to compete at the top again once they get Derrick Rose back.

"Obviously, it was a tough break for us, but we're going to bounce back,” Noah said. "Right now, people are sleeping on us, and we're all right with that. We know at the end of the day, come playoff time, we'll be ready to go."

That’s a bold statement considering no one can really predict when Rose will return or the kind of state he’ll be in after taking almost a year off to recover from his torn ACL.

The Bulls also lost a lot of key pieces this offseason. Even though Omer Asik isn’t a dominating powerhouse in the paint, you can’t underestimate the importance of a solid rebounding, defensive-minded center in this age of the NBA where they’re so hard to come by. Chicago also lost C.J. Watson, Ronnie Brewer and sharpshooter Kyle Korver, some solid bench pieces that gave the team a lot of depth.

The Bulls did find a few replacements, but they may not measure up to the players they had before. They added Kirk Hinrich, Marco Belinelli and Vladimir Radmanovic to the roster and drafted point guard Marquis Teague out of Kentucky who will surely get some playing time early on with Rose out.

The starting lineup may look pretty similar to the one of the last couple years once Derrick Rose returns, but the lack of depth may be what hurts the Bulls in the end. I’m not as optimistic as Joakim Noah about this team, but I could be wrong and they could gel just as well as the Bulls of the past couple years and Rose could come back and return to MVP form, I just wouldn’t bet on it.

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This article first appeared on Crossover Chronicles and was syndicated with permission.

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