How will the Bulls handle the rotation?

The Bulls seem to have a crowded roster rotation entering the season.   They're especially jammed at the three, and they'll be forcing Hinrich to play as a two for most of his minutes.   How they manage that rotation while still developing James Johnson will factor greatly in how successful the team can be this season.

Point Guard:
The minutes at point guard are straightforward.   Rose plays 38 minutes
a night for as long as he's healthy.   Kirk Hinrich gets the remaining

Shooting Guard:
Here things start to get messy.  First, who starts?  Hinrich or
Salmons?   There've previously been rumblings in the press that Hinrich
didn't care to come off the bench, something sources close to me have
said as well.   Salmons' productivity fell off a cliff when he came off
the bench in Sarcamento, so the Bulls will likely want to start him as
well.   Deng could theoretically come off the bench allowing both to
start, but that seems unlikely if they want to build his trade value.

Hinrich 20 minutes, Salmons 20 minutes, Pargo 8 minutes.   Salmons starts initially, but it's a role that's up for grabs.

Small Forward:
What's best for wins and losses and what's best for trade value of the
team may not initially be the same.  The financial commitment is on
Deng though, so he'll probably start initially whether he earns it on
the court or not.   I expect the leash to not be that long though.   I
gave some thought to the organization bringing him off the bench with
the excuse that they're bringing him along slowly, but they've been too
positive about his health for that to fly without them looking
foolish.   How much time will James Johnson earn here is another
factor, and do we want to develop him here?

Deng 30 minutes, Salmons 10 minutes, James Johnson 8 minutes

Power Forward
Things get really messy here as well.   The Bulls don't really have a
great solution for power forward.  If they start Noah with Miller then
both their centers are in the game at the same time putting them in
foul trouble risk and burning down their energy at once, for that
reason I don't think that's all that practical.

Tyrus, Gibson, and Johnson can then fight for the spot, but it's not
going to be a great situation regardless of who starts.   Even though I
think this is Tyrus's last year with the Bulls, I think they'll start
him for a lack of better alternatives, and they'll probably lose him
mentally if they go any other direction.   However, if all of our
perimeter guys play well don't rule out a small ball lineup with Deng
at the four, and if James Johnson impresses then he'll have a shot at
the job as well.   The minute distribution here will be off and on.

Tyrus 25, Johnson 13, Noah 10
The organization wants to make Noah more of a building block, so they'd
probably like to start him to build up his confidence and esteem.   At
the same time, a Noah/Tyrus starting pairing doesn't work well.   It
makes more sense from an Xs and Os stand point to start Miller, so it
will be interesting to see whether Xs and Os or future status wins out
here.   Either way the rotation seems simple enough.

Miller: 24, Noah 24

This leaves the Bulls with a nine man rotation filling in the primary
minutes.   Everyone else will play in spurts depending on the game or
injury status of other players.  In order of minutes played:
Rose 38
Noah 34
Hinrich 30
Salmons 30
Deng 30
Tyrus 25
Miller 24
Johnson 23
Pargo 8

Out of the rotation initially:
Gray (or whomever fills his spot if he goes elsewhere)
Jerome James

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Tags: bulls, chicago bulls, nba, rotation


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  • I actually have the opposite concern. Kirk, Deng and Salmons were all injured for significant time last year (though Salmons played through.) If someone goes down with an injury it will force Pargo or Johnson to step up. In a normal situation where everyone is healthy, I don't see anyone unhappy besides pargo.

  • Doug,

    In a recent interview, didn't Jerry Reinsdorf refuse/avoid to endorse Vinnie del Negro?

    If Vinnie is on a short lease, I'd expect him to start whoever makes his job easiest. Avoiding player development like JJ and Taj that may endanger his short term record.

    Confident coaches can afford to jungle lineups looking for the best team. Sophomore coaches w/o job security who are green themselves, will probably look to make their jobs easier.

    What's the Chicago Bulls roster? Whatever roster makes things easiest for Vinnie. That's not a recipe for great success.

  • If kirk starts, I will throw up. He is not an SG, he tries to play PG too much with Rose out there. I really hate when they are on the court at the same time. I have no problem with kirk having all the back up minutes but I want Salmons to be the SG with Rose, he is much more the prototypical SG we have been clamoring for years.

  • In reply to TheStig:

    Have you checked the player-pair data at

    Derrick's overall per40 averages for last season were 16.1 FGA, 6.8 AST, .475 FG%, and 18.1 PTS.

    Playing with Kirk his averages were 16.0 FGA, 6.8 AST, .486 FG%, and 19.0 PTS.

    Playing with John his averages dropped to 15.2 FGA, 6.3 AST, .469 FG%, and 17.0 PTS.

    I definitely agree with you that John is the more prototypical SG of the two, but I don't think playing with Kirk "hurts" Derrick nearly as much as people want to think.

  • In reply to clancy:

    Those stats are a little slanted because Kirk hardly played with BG and Rose at the same time while Salmons usaully played with both. The end result is that you have less shots for Rose with Salmons because he was playing with our leading shot taker.

  • In reply to TheStig:

    Stig, I don't think it's all that slanted. If Kirk were taking the ball out of Derrick's hands to the extent you are implying, I'd expect it to show up in FGA and, particularly, in assist totals. The common argument I see is that once Derrick passes to Kirk he goes and stands in the corner and never sees the ball again. Were that the case, both his FGA and AST should be lower when Kirk is on the floor. But that's not the case. Derrick had to have the ball quite a bit to maintain his averages. If he scored, that meant he either never gave the ball up or he got it back. If he was credited with an assist, that means he made the pass that made the play. To do either of these things, he had to have the ball at some time right before it went in the basket - and if he's doing this at the same rate with Kirk on the floor, then Kirk can't be taking "too many" possessions from Derrick.

    I do get what you are saying about distributing shots when two high volume guys are in the game. The funny thing is this basically points out that playing with John and Ben "took" more possessions from Derrick - he wasn't shooting as much, and he wasn't racking up the assists by creating for them since they so often got the ball on the perimeter and then created for themselves.

    If you strongly prefer that style of play, more power to you I guess. I obviously don't have a problem with Kirk and Derrick playing together, and I think the stats bear out that it's not harming Derrick in the least if he's getting his normal amount of shots and assists when Kirk is on the floor.

  • In reply to clancy:

    But I am fine with that. Rose will have to learn with other good players. The fact that a second pg doesn't help his ball movement or scoring really shows that kirk does much of nothing on the court. He doesn't really help derrick score much more or allow him to control the ball. BG and Salmons were both near 20ppg, they should have the ball in their hands and have proven they can create their own shot and don't need Rose too as much. Kirk is neither a score or really a facilitator he didn't do much of anything when he was out there with Rose. Thats why his numbers went up a little. Its a forgone conclusion that 2 near 20ppg scores are going to need Rose to score less and create less. Don't you think Rose's numbers would go down if he played with Wade? I guess I am trying to say the lack of talent artificially inflates numbers like playing on a bad team.

  • In reply to TheStig:

    So Kirk is suppose to help Derrick increase his assist average, but he's suppose to do it without touching the ball? When did you go from being mad that Kirk supposedly makes Derrick worse (or more accurately less relevant) to being mad that Kirk doesn't make Derrick better? And how do you know this isn't all by design anyway? Vinny talked more than once about playing Derrick off the ball occasionally, so if he's going to do it anyway better with someone competent to handle the ball and run the offense.

    And Kirk did help Derrick score more - Derrick shot a better percentage playing with Kirk, so he scored more in the same number of shots, plus he shot more FTA playing with Kirk.

    Meanwhile, Kirk had more assists playing with Derrick than either John or Ben. I thought this is what you were complaining about - that Kirk was creating offense for someone while on the floor with Derrick, and that should be Derrick's role. This is why I was pointing out that Derrick has as many assists when Kirk's on the floor with him as when he plays without him. But now it sounds like you don't think Kirk serves any purpose whatsoever.

    Which leaves me at this point: Kirk shot better and scored near his average in spite of fewer shot attempts while playing with Derrick, and also had a good number of assists - not as many as his overall numbers, so he wasn't facilitating as much with Derrick out there, but he was doing more facilitating than either John or Ben do when playing with Derrick. Thus, he was clearly doing something while out there with Derrick. Whatever he was doing, it wasn't detracting from Derrick's normal stats. Kirk and Derrick also had a positive +/- playing together, so whatever they were doing wasn't hurting the team in the flow of the game.

    So there honestly doesn't seem to be any reason I can see so far to not allow Kirk and Derrick to play together, other than your personal preference that Derrick stand around watching John create for himself, over Derrick standing around watching Kirk create for someone else - even if it's going to happen with John more often than with Kirk.

    If you want to get the last word in, feel free. But I think we're going to have to agree to disagree on this one, so I'll leave it here. Regardless of either of our feelings, I suspect Doug is close to right on the minutes distribution, and that means we're going to see roughly the same amount of Derrick playing with each of them and with both of them together.

  • In reply to TheStig:

    I think that you guys are really getting too twisted on this Salmons vs Hinrich as Rose's backcourt mate.

    They are going to form a very nice, maybe even great 3 guard rotation. We will see some Rose & Salmons, some Rose & Hinrich, and some Hinrich & Salmons. I believe that all three will be efffective combinations.

    I think that Rose and Deng will benefit from Gordons absence by playing with guys who are more team oriented, offensively and defensively. Salmons may be a somewhat of a ball stopper, but he is not a one man offense in his own mind like Gordon.

    If you look at Rose, Salmons, Deng and Hinrich, I expect better overall production, and much better team defense than we got from those 4 spots last season with Gordon.

    With Gordon gone, I expect team chemistry to improve and become a positive aspect for the team, rather than a negative as it has been since at least the Ben Wallace signing.

    Remember the Bulls were nearly unwatchable last season prior to Hinrich's return, and really hit thier stride after the trade for Salmons and Miller.

    I agree with Doug that Tyrus is by far the biggest concern going into this season. He has 2-3 months to show massive improvement(consistency of effort would be a good start), or his role will be reduced and maybe elimanated by the trade deadline.

    I expect to be pleasantly surprised with our performance right out of the gate.

  • With all due respect, I really don't like this particular. No way Johnson should play strictly behind Deng. I think he'll be really good at SG. He can handle the ball, pass, and overpower guys. His mid-range game is nothing but net -as we all saw in summerleague. No way I put Johnson at PF because he almost dido's Nocioni role. Not a good look. Hinrich in no way form or shape should be given consideration in starting at Point or Shooting Guard. I'm asking myself, if Jerry though Ben wouldn't fit then why in the hell Hinrich fits. Tell me Doug, is this a white thing. I'm from the Englewood area and my buddies were laughing at this notion that Hinrich is inevitably going to stay with the Bulls because it's the PR factor. No way I start the dude at Shooting Guard, for what? Tyrus Thomas is the guy I will close the book on come February, of course, if he isn't scoring individually.

    PG: Rose, Hinrich
    SG: Salmons, Johnson
    SF: Deng, Johnson
    PF: Thomas, Gibson
    C: Noah, Miller

  • In reply to Simeon2UC:

    JJ is not a SG at all. When was the last time you saw a 260lb sg? I don't know why you don't want him to play a Noc like role with split minutes at the 3,4, he would be an excellent mismatch for second units.

  • In reply to Simeon2UC:

    I think that it is virtually written in stone that the starting lineup, at least day one, will be

    Rose, Salmons, Deng, Thomas, Noah.

    Your numbers are reasonable, but Vinny tried to use a formula to start last season and it didn't work. So I think that he starts this year with a 7 man core, leftover from the end of last season, with a healthy Deng replacing a departed Gordon.

    Rose, Salmons, and Hinrich in a 3 guard rotation is 32 minutes apiece. Rose will undoubtedly get more so someone has to get less. I don't see much time for Pargo, unless Salmons is the primary backup to Deng at small forward.

    If that is the case then Johnson has to get his minutes as a backup 4, which he doesn't appear to be.

    The Bulls will try to force feed Johnson minutes as both Dengs primary backup and some time at the 4, because they need to see if he is a player before the tradeline. If he looks to be one, then Deng becomes a trade option. Which I think was the plan in drafting Johnson.

    I would expect Noah, Miller and Thomas to form a 3 man rotation much like they did in the playoffs. If Thomas steps up he will get 30 plus minutes, if he continues to be inconsistent, then 25 is more likely. Keeping Miller to 25 or less is prudent especially during the regular season.

    The seven man rotation worked great in the playoffs, except for the fact that our top 7 players we on the small side, so we played some overly small lineups(Rose, Gordon, Hinrich, Salmons).

    With the departure of Gordon and the return of Deng, we become a normal sized team, so even in smallball(Rose, Hinrich, Salmons, Deng) we won't be looking at all guard lineups.

    The seven man rotation of the playoffs is too much for the long regular season, but I think that it will be our base lineup. Pargo and Gibson will scrap for minutes, unless there is an injury.

  • Am I alone or does anyone else see that JJ's game is similar to Scottie's in their rookie year? If you recall, Pippen didn't have the greatest shot as a rookie, but it developed over time.

    I'm not saying that JJ is the next Pippen. Physically they're not alike, but their skills are similar. I'm only saying he has handles and seems to see the court well.

    I can see Johnson being a point forward when Rose isn't in the game.

  • Well thats a shooting guard, Salmons will take a pass and shoot or pump fake and get to the basket. I have no problem with that, he really doesn't hold the ball much. Kirk will take the ball out of Rose's hands and dribble it up, make rose play off the ball more, hesitate and dribble around some more before even thinking about doing something.

    Their defense is about equal in my opinion. Kirk is more aggressive and in your face but Salmons is bigger, stronger and plays strong more passive D. Salmons is always in great postion on the play and rarely gets in foul trobule. Kirk's aggression gets him in foul trouble a lot. I would be very angry if kirk started, I just as I have said in the past, don't see him as anything more than a combo guard on this team. He can be a starting PG in this league but definitely not a starting sg. His style just doesn't fit with rose imo.

  • There is a huge difference imo. John usaully gets a good shot on his but kirk either puts up a bad shot or forces someone else to because he has eaten most of the clock. I see kirk's assists but he doesn't organize the offense, he completly disrupts it to me. Salmons gets his within the flow. Kirk needs a wing scorer to play off of. Someone he just brings the ball up to. He just disrupts Rose's flow and fast breaks.

    Don't get me wrong, Kirk is better when his D is on. But I just don't see him on that much. He picks up a quick foul or two and he is completely out of the game. Its just mentally over for him. I just think Kirk is vastly overrated. He used to get away with the ticky tack fouls, now he is just getting caught left and right. I will say that his D is usaully pretty good at the end of games.

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