After losing four of their last three games, the only thing that can cheer up Chicago Bulls players, staff and fans is Derrick Rose returning to team practices, so far without contact, while beginning to travel with the team again. After losing at home to the worst team in the NBA, there’s nothing much else that can make you smile.

It’s a rough ending to December. Not just the home humiliation against the Houston Rockets on Christmas. The Chicago Bulls backed that up losing at home 81-91 to the Charlotte Bobcats, and their awful offensive problems, hidden half the time by their fantastic defense and a streaky day from one of the shooters on occasion, keep popping up, becoming more and more worrying as we advance in the season.

The Bobcats are without a doubt the worst defensive team in the NBA, allowing teams 103.8 points (worst in the NBA), while team shoot 45.8% against team, among the worst shooting defenses in the NBA as well. And still, the Bulls managed to look like a bunch of guys who have no idea how to function together in an offense. They made only 35.1% of their field goals with a terrible 4-16 from beyond the arc. They’re ranked in the bottom 10 so far this season in both field goals and three point shooting.

Things get pretty depressing sometimes

The easiest thing to spot about this offense is the inability to get easy shots when it doesn’t involve transition offense, which itself has deteriorated quite rapidly this season without Derrick Rose running the show. Kirk Hinrich is a good passer, but he can’t create shots from himself, therefore finds it hard to draw double teams and find open men. Nate Robinson is the ‘coin-flip’ kind of guy, and despite everyone insisting they believe in the dunk contest champion, when it comes to running a team from the point, he lacks so many necessary qualities.

Luol Deng was the man that should have taken over, but Deng is no Derrick Rose. He’s a great player to have, but not as your number one scoring option. He finds it hard to make his own shot and while his defense and shooting can be great when set up for it, it’s harder for him to carry a team on his back. Carlos Boozer needs a point guard to make him work. He’s a smart passer and a good rebounder on the offensive glass when he feels like it, but the Bulls need  an actual point guard. Their point guard, but that’s not happening any time soon.

Until then? Painful to watch offense, more of it. At some point, even their defense is effected. They’re holding teams to 91.5 points per game and 43.5% from the field, but that’s not always enough when your offense has long stretches of too simple, too easy to read and overly frustrating to watch offense going on. When Derrick Rose comes back, they need to hope their defense managed to carry them with an aobve .500 record (16-13 at the moment) until then. Otherwise, too much pressure comeback might cause disastrous results.

Images: Source