Hall of Famer and Bulls ambassador Scottie Pippen predicted on the "Waddle and Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000 before the season that the Bulls would win just 40 games. The Bulls are almost halfway there as they go into Wednesday's game against the Milwaukee Bucks with a 19-13 record.
"I think they've been playing great," Pippen said before a Bulls' charity event Tuesday. "With a lot of new faces, pretty much the whole bench has been revamped, but the guys have come in and really worked hard. Coach (Tom Thibodeau) has got them focused and really giving their all night in and night out so you have to be happy with the results and their record.
"This team has definitely been very tenacious to some degree because they haven't given into the fact that they've lost their great superstar in Derrick. They've found ways to win games so you have to appreciate the way they play and the intensity that they play with night in and night out."
Pippen's former teammate, Steve Kerr, echoed those sentiments. The TNT analyst has been impressed by the way the Bulls have played without Rose.
"They've been great," Kerr said. "They've had some rough patches which is to be expected, but really they've just been able to tread water which is the main thing. And if they can continue to do that and he comes back whenever it is, gives them that boost, the way the East looks after Miami it's wide open. And Miami has shown some cracks in the armor. I think the Bulls are in a good spot right now."
As Kerr noted, the Eastern Conference isn't exactly formidable these days.
"If you think about it, beyond Miami and Chicago the last couple years the East has not been great," Kerr said. "Boston's the one team that's taken the big drop off, and I guess that was coming eventually although they're showing signs (of life). Everybody else in the East has sort of been mediocre the last few years so the East is a lot weaker than the West and that plays to the Bulls' advantage."
Rose has started taking some contact in practice and appears to be on his way to a return after the All-Star break. Nobody knows exactly when Rose will be back but Pippen likes what he's seen from the glimpses he's gotten of the former MVP over the past few months.
"I saw Derrick earlier this summer; he looked good," Pippen said. "You're asking a guy that don't know much about the medical side of his situation, but I think when the time is right Derrick will be on that court. He's looked good to me since mid-summer, but that doesn't mean he's ready to go out and perform out on the basketball court yet.
"So he's continuing to work hard and to work his way back into playing shape and getting back on the basketball court. It's not a timetable where I can say when he's coming back because I really don't know."