By Nick Shepkowski–

What went on last night at the United Center was further confirmation what we in Chicago have been thinking this entire winter: the Bulls are back. Maybe not quite to the extent they were for the majority of the 90’s but the atmosphere is back on West Madison and the Bulls are amongst the favorites to represent the NBA’s eastern conference in the NBA Finals.

Most argue at this point in the season that superstar third year point guard Derrick Rose is the favorite to win the league’s regular season MVP award. Why not, he averages 25 points per game while dishing out 8.2 assists and pulling down 4.4 rebounds. On top of that he’s led the Bulls to the third best record in the East, sitting just two games back from the number one seed. Nobody could possibly have a better case than Derrick, right?

Enter LeBron James. Remember him?  hat guy who “took his talents to South Beach” this past summer. Despite being public enemy #1, The King is having another video game type season that’s seen him rack up 26.2 points per game, dish out 7.2 assists a night, all while pulling down 7.5 rebounds each contest.

For those scoring at home, LeBron ranks better than Rose in two of the three major categories and combines for a total of 40.9 between the three per night, slightly higher than Rose who’s turns out a 37.6 total.

I understand numbers aren’t the only thing that decides the NBA’s MVP. If that were the case we wouldn’t have seen Dirk Nowitzki or Steve Nash win the award in recent years, instead it would have likely gone to Kobe Bryant (which many would argue it should have).

For those who think the Bulls would take a bigger hit without Rose than the Heat would take without LeBron, please consider the following:

Derrick has scored 24.9% of the Bulls total points this season while LeBron has contributed a nearly identical 24.8% of the Miami’s season point total. Rose takes a slight step ahead dishing out 37% of the Bulls assists this year while LeBron is responsible for 35.3% of Miami’s. The biggest gap in percentages comes in rebounding however, as LeBron has pulled down 16.8% of Heat rebounds compared to Rose’s 10.9% of Chicago’s.

Based on those numbers the argument can’t be made that the Bulls would be worse off without Rose than Miami would be without LeBron.

LeBron has the benefit of having Dwyane Wade, another top five NBA talent in his starting lineup while Rose doesn’t have anyone near that class. However, the Bulls bench goes a whole lot deeper than Miami’s and allows the Chicago to survive longer amounts of time without Rose than Miami would be able to without James.

Don’t let Miami’s mistake of signing Chris Bosh to the biggest deal they could fool you, he’s not deserving of the money he makes. At this point many would take Carlos Boozer or Joakim Noah over Bosh after seeing the egg he has figuratively laid when it has mattered this season.

Factor in the development of Luol Deng and Taj Gibson this year with surprise performances to date from the likes of Kurt Thomas, Ronnie Brewer, and even Omer Asik and you see the Bulls go much deeper than Miami.

Saying I would vote for LeBron as my MVP at this point in the season isn’t a knock on Derrick Rose by any means, but more of a compliment to the often deservedly ridiculed Gar-Pax regime.

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