The Bulls can get better before next season because Derrick Rose can.
Rose should be motivated to do so after the way the Heat eliminated the Bulls from the playoffs Thursday night.
Not that Rose was responsible for the Bulls' 83-80 loss that gave victorious Miami the NBA Eastern Conference title 4 victories to 1.
Rose did contribute to the defeat, however, never more than by missing a potential tying free throw with 26.7 second remaining.
That capped a performance in which Rose missed 20 of his 29 field-goal attempts on the way to 25 points.
Rose also committed a pivotal turnover down the stretch and ... oh, heck, overall he just wasn't up to offsetting Miami's three-headed monster of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Who could be?
The Bulls will have to provide Rose with more help if they're going to compete with the Heat next season. But he'll have to improve, too, and the good news is that he shouldn't be anywhere near his career potential yet.
It's easy to forget how young Rose is after he played most of this season like a 10-year NBA veteran. Few players of any age could have led this Bulls team to the league's best regular-season record the way he did.
Rose is the reigning league Most Valuable Player in just his third professional season. In pro basketball years the kid is still a kid playing more on instinct than intelligence.
A recent scene in the Berto Center pointed out that point about the Bulls' point guard.
Practice was over. A few players stayed around to shoot jump shots and free throws. Some already were in the locker room.
A couple had stopped to talk with reporters. The media were impatiently waiting to hear from Tom Thibodeau.
Where was the Bulls' head coach? Down toward a corner of the gym, sitting on a folding chair next to Rose's, both of them looking up at a big-screen TV featuring the tape of a basketball game.
Class was in session. For nearly a year now, Thibodeau has been feeding his 30 years of coaching expertise into Rose's appetite for the game.
This season might have been as much a learning experience for Thibodeau. For all his successful moves -- some of them as dazzling as Rose's -- this was Thibodeau's rookie year as a head coach.
They can continue to grow together.
"Coach Thibs," Rose said after the session, "you see how he focuses and prepares for the game, it makes you want to do the same."
Rose needs to get better in all phases of basketball, as the series with Miami emphasized. It was sort of like he was playing on the playground against older guys and Heat players were in the NBA playing against a younger guy.
"Derrick's approach is very sound," Thibodeau said. "He studies; he prepares. He's never satisfied."
Rose can thank the Heat for exposing that he merely earned his undergraduate degree this season. Over the next couple years he'll receive his master's and then probably a doctorate.
Rose's shooting percentage should go up and his turnovers down.
He'll learn to read the double teams better and the newspapers less. His decision-making and game management will improve.
It's intriguing to project where Derrick Rose will be in a few years when he no longer is all that young.
Especially after the Heat handed him all sorts of motivation to be all he can be.