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Chicago Bulls pegged at No. 15 in ESPN's NBA power rankings

With Derrick Rose projected to miss a solid chunk of the season, the Bulls are projected as a middle of the pack NBA team in 2012-13.

Dennis Wierzbicki-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

The team that finished first in the Eastern Conference with a 50-16 record is No. 15 in ESPN's first NBA power rankings for the 2012-13 season. The reasoning is relatively obvious though, as the Bulls cruised to the top seed in the playoffs, but were quickly eliminated in the first round after point guard Derrick Rose tore his ACL in Game 1.

Without the 2011 NBA MVP, the Bulls looked especially pedestrian and with the three-time All-Star not expected to return any time soon, ESPN expects the same in 2012-13.

If you think D-Rose was emotional at that Adidas press conference chronicling his diligent rehab, wait until you see what happens around New Year's when he and Coach Thibs start planning Rose's comeback from that ACL tear ... and cautious Bulls management tells them it's best to sit tight.

Rose averaged 21.8 points and 7.9 assists in 2011-12 for the Bulls, both marks led the team. However, Joakim Noah, the leader on the team in rebounds and blocks last season returns for the team in 2012-13.