When Derrick Rose went driving to the basket with less than 90 seconds left in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, Bulls fans were expecting to see another acrobatic lay-in for the reigning MVPs 24th and 25 points of the afternoon.
Perhaps a kick-out to Kyle Korver for Roses 10th assist. What fans weren't expecting was to see Rose crumble to the ground shortly after landing awkwardly on his left leg, silencing the sellout crowd at the United Center.
The result was a torn ACL, and 12 days later, the Bulls had lost in six games to the eighth-seeded Philadelphia 76ers. It was an abrupt end to Roses banged-up season, but he still managed to average 21.8 points and 7.9 assists in 39 games.
Spot starter C.J. Watson filled in well in Roses absence, averaging 11.3 points and 4.6 assists per game in 25 starts. John Lucas III also saw an increase in playing time, and finished with averages of 7.5 points and 2.2 assists in 49 games. Mike James saw limited action in 11 games.
Since 2000, the Bulls have made 29 draft selections. They have spent five of those selections on point guards: 2000: Khalid El-Amin (Connecticut); 2002: Jay Williams (Duke); 2003: Kirk Hinrich (Kansas); 2004: Chris Duhon (Duke); 2008: Derrick Rose (Memphis).
What the Bulls need in a point guard:
As is the case for any Tom Thibodeau-coached player, a Bulls point guard will get after it on the defensive end. The Bench Mob prides itself on stout defensive play, and given Roses eventual return to the lineup, any draft pick will need to lock down the opposing teams second unit point guard. A distributor, compared to a shoot-first point guard like C.J. Watson, would also work as a change-of-pace guard in the Bulls lineup.
Top 15 2012 Draft prospects
1. Damian Lillard, Weber State The two-time Big Sky Player of the Year (2010, 2012) has shot his way into the Lottery, perhaps as high as No. 6 to the Portland Trail Blazers.
2. Dion Waiters, Syrcause The Big Easts Sixth Man of the Year would have started on the majority of teams in the country -- including Syracuse -- if he didnt fit his role so well off the bench. But make no mistake; hell be starting in the Association.
3. Kendall Marshall, North Carolina Arguably the nations best passer, a fractured right wrist in the NCAA Tournament hasnt hurt the leftys status as a potential Lottery selection.
4. Tony Wroten Jr., Washington The tallest of the top point guard prospects, the 6-foot-5 Wroten can score from anywhere and is just 19 years old.
5. Marquis Teague, Kentucky Sometimes the forgotten freshman on the National Champion Wildcats, Teague progressed as the season went along, peaking in the Third Round of the NCAA Tournament where he scored 24 points and handed out seven assists.
6. Tyshawn Taylor, Kansas The most experienced point guard on this list, Taylor played at least 26 minutes per game in each of his four seasons with the Jayhawks.
7. Scott Machado, Iona The court general of one of college basketballs most high-powered offenses, Machado led the country with 9.9 assists per game.
8. J'Covan Brown, Texas The Longhorns' leading scorer a year ago (20.1 points) has an excellent jump shot and can find open shooters when he drives.
9. Tu Holloway, Xavier Built more like an NFL fullback than an NBA point guard, Holloway had a disappointing senior season after being named as a Third Team All-American his junior year.
10. Darius Johnson-Odom, Marquette A shooting guard-turned-point guard, Johnson-Odom did 17 reps on the bench press and had a combine-high 41-inch maximum vertical jump. He was an Honorable Mention All-American this past year.
11. Dee Bost, Mississippi State His shooting is a concern (39.2 percent from the field last year), but Bost is an excellent passer and one of the best defending point guards in this years class.
Rose is reportedly ahead of schedule with his rehab, but is still expected to miss a good portion of the 2012-13 season. The Bulls will not be able to replace Rose's leadership or athleticism, let alone his 21.8 points or 7.9 assists per game. But they will need to somehow fill the void left in his absence at the point guard position.
The Bulls have been linked to rumors as a team looking to trade into the Lottery, but with Rose expected to make a full recovery, it wouldn't make much sense for Gar Forman to spend an early pick on a future starting point guard, should they trade up into the top-10.
If they stay at No. 29, Lillard and Marshall would be off the board. Wroten Jr. and Teague would likely be gone, as well. Taylor would be an intriguing selection, given his experience and ability to come in and play right away. The Bulls had success with another former Jayhawk point guard in Hinrich, so a Kansas alum in Taylor may be the answer.
Machado would give the Bulls a pass-first option at the point, different from Rose or Watson, but at just 6-foot-1, his defense is a question mark. If they trade back into the second round, Brown, Johnson-Odom and Bost would all be good fits who could learn under Roses tutelage.