Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Bulls Bench Will Still Be Good

The more analysis I read, the more I see some serious doubt towards the Chicago Bulls. They lost The Bench Mob, and that was a huge strength for them last year. But I still believe in the Bulls. In fact, I believe in the Bulls bench, which is a ragtag group that has no experience together. It may take some time for the guys to gel, but by the end of the season, I don't see a reason why this bench can't be nearly as good as the one the Bulls had last year. The players in The Bench Mob got no one excited before they came to the Bulls. It's the same thing with these guys, but if you run a proper system, guys can look good. Here is what the Bulls lost from last year.

Omer Asik - This is the toughest loss for the Bulls. He filled a role in the middle of the defense that let other guys take chances to create turnovers. He was basically a perfect fit. On top of that, this is where the Bulls probably got their weakest replacement. I am going to miss Asik, but since the Bulls are trying to avoid the luxury tax like it's the plague, it didn't make sense to match the Rockets' contract.

Kyle Korver - This is about the only guy who had any sort of reputation before joining the Bulls. He is an awesome 3-point shooter. That is really nice to have, especially since the bench did not have a lot of scoring. His defense got better, but it was still not good, which did not make him an ideal complement to Derrick Rose in crunch time. Also, I was terrified anytime that he put the ball on the floor, because it rarely led to good things. Another thing that helps for the future is the $5 million trade exception, which gives them an opportunity to basically add two strong veterans this coming offseason when they inevitably drop Rip Hamilton's non-guaranteed contract. Using the amnesty clause on Boozer also makes a ton of sense, which is nothing against Boozer, outside of saying that he is not a $15 million player.

Ronnie Brewer - He was always a good defender, but he was not a guy that was going to create his own shot, and even when he did shoot, he was never going to be a consistent scorer. That being said, Brewer was another favorite of mine. I would find him hard to replace, but his replacement is probably my second favorite bench player behind Taj Gibson. We'll get to him later.

John Lucas III - I think the Bulls will be okay here.

Brian Scalabrine - Good news: The Bulls will have an extra soul on the roster this year.

C.J. Watson - A good backup point guard, who did a nice job of being a poor man's Derrick Rose. He did a very good job of fitting within the Bulls system. He could score, but he was never seen as a big time scorer, just a good bench scorer. He was a nice little pickup for the Bulls, but he is not a game changer.

So that is what they lost? What did they gain for this season? Well, if you listen to the mainstream media, they somehow signed a bunch of nothing, but it's not like there is not potential with the signings that the Bulls made.

Marco Belinelli - He started a good amount of games for the Hornets last year, which is...something that happened and doesn't mean a whole lot (especially since it was because of Eric Gordon's injury). Still, he's a guard who can score, and hit threes well enough. He was good enough to be a solid contributor as a starter, so he could excel at times in a bench role.

Jimmy Butler - I know he is not an addition, but he is actually going to get some serious minutes off the bench, and I am way too excited for this. He has been working with Thibodeau, and I think he is ready to get some significant minutes at small forward. Deng has a bum wrist, so it would be nice if they finally stopped playing him 45 minutes a game. I think Butler is ready to step up and be a nice contributor.

Kirk Hinrich - I think I'm the only person on the planet who liked the Hinrich signing. He's a good fit, as he can run the point, but also shift to the 2 when Rose gets back and play tough defense on the better guard. I like a lineup with him at the 2 more than I like Rip Hamilton, because I think Hinrich's defense is a very good complementary piece to Rose as he can play the better scoring guard on defense which allows Rose to focus completely on offense, which is definitely best for him.

Nazr Mohammed - Yeah, remember how good I said Asik was, this is the other reason why the Bulls will miss him so much. On the positive side, at least he's a rich man's Scalabrine, so that's...something.

Vladimir Radmanovic - He's a big man who can shoot the three, so that is a nice piece to have around. He's not a game breaker, but having a big guy who can spread the floor is a nice piece to have off the bench.

Nate Robinson - He is boom or bust, but that isn't the worst thing in the world when you have a bench that is going to have trouble scoring. Like I mentioned, moving Hinrich into the starting group and moving Rip Hamilton back gives the second team another good scorer, but a guy like Robinson who might just get on fire will be fun to have around. Yes, him getting very cold and taking awful shots and making awfully dumb plays will be frustrating, but I'm here to focus on the positive, so just forget this last sentence.

Marquis Teague - He probably won't get a ton of playing time, but this was a high upside pick, which is exactly what I would want to see from a Bulls team that was picking that late in the draft. He was inconsistent, but he was one of the most talented players in the draft, so to get him that late was a steal. Maybe he can come in and provide a spark when Nate Robinson is doing inexplicable things.

Yes, the Bulls pulled a bunch of guys off the scrapheap, they at least consulted Thibodeau to figure out which scrapheap guys could best play in his system. This is not the same bench as they had last year, but that doesn't necessarily make it worse They do not appear to be nearly as good on defense, but I do think that this is a better offensive bench than what the Bulls had with The Bench Mob.

Going into the season two years ago, nobody expected anything special from the bench, and it turned out to become possibly the best bench in the league. Now, here we are again, where nobody is expecting anything from the bench, but I really think they will surprise people with how well they play in Thibodeau's system.

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