Three injuries to All-Stars on Friday night changed the NBA playoff picture, none more so than Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose suffering a tear of the medial meniscus in his right knee. While Rose avoided the possibility of a ruptured ACL, after undergoing surgery Monday to repair the meniscus, the Bulls announced he would miss the remainder of the season and virtually knock the Bulls from playoff contention.
With the help of playoff simulations, let's take a look at the impact of Rose's injury as well as those to Marc Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies and Andre Iguodala of the Golden State Warriors on their teams' projected wins.
Based on their estimated "true talent" ( as described last week), remaining schedule and performance to date and with a healthy Rose factored into more than 1,000 simulations of the season, Chicago averaged just over 52 wins, the third-highest total in the Eastern Conference, after the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat.
Last year's Bulls won 45 games without Rose before knocking off the Brooklyn Nets in the opening round of the playoffs, but that overstates how effective they were in the regular season. Chicago's +0.3 point differential was more consistent with a 42-40 team. Moreover, as my Insider colleague Bradford Doolittle noted in his analysis over the weekend, the 2012-13 Bulls could better cushion the loss of Rose because Nate Robinson provided a similar style of play, if not necessarily similar results.
Now, Chicago is left with second-year guard Marquis Teague and veteran Mike James as options behind Rose's replacement, Kirk Hinrich. Teague rated 1.1 wins worse than replacement level in limited action last season and was reportedly on the trading block during training camp. James was more effective in Dallas and eventually won the starting job, but he too rated below replacement due to 36.3 percent shooting inside the 3-point line.
Given the drop-off from Robinson to Teague and James, it's not unreasonable to think this year's non-Rose Bulls could be five wins worse than last year's incarnation, leaving them a below-.500 squad. Certainly, they looked the part in Sunday's listless 39-point loss to the Clippers in L.A.