Building around Derrick Rose

The Bulls are building around Derrick Rose that much is obvious.   So how do the existing pieces fit around him right now?   I look at the entire roster player by player to see what their strengths and weaknesses around Derrick are.
Luol Deng: Going into last season, Deng appeared a perfect fit next to Rose.   A pure SF who doesn't need to dominate the ball to score and can generate efficient offense.   We saw last season that it's going to take a lot of work between Deng and the coaching staff to make that vision a reality.   Vinny's offense didn't seem to provide many cutting opportunities for Deng and he received the ball outside the three point range in isolation against his man.   Something which didn't play to his strengths.

Deng, possibly pressured by his contract, forced the action from this position where he doesn't have the ball handling or quickness to beat his man off the dribble or the three point range as a threat to fake his man out or shoot over him.   The results were not pretty for much of the season.   Deng seemed to find his grove in January, playing excellently, prior to going down with the stress fracture.

We saw a bit of how Deng could be a strength or a weakness next to Derrick.   His lack of shooting is going to add pressure around Rose, but his off the ball movement could make him a deadly pass target.   It's worth noting that Rose needs to improve considerably to take advantage of Deng's cutting skills as well, as Rose's court vision isn't nearly as good as his overall ability is.   Rose thrives getting into the lane, but he hasn't thrived in delivering the ball to teammates in position to score.

The future may hinge on how well this pair figures things out together as the Bulls are committed to Rose due to his talent and committed to Deng due to an ability to move his contract if they tried.

Kirk Hinrich:  At first, I thought Hinrich was a poor fit next to Rose seeing as I felt he was more effective as a PG than a SG, however, I'm having second thoughts.   What are the two things you need most in a SG next to Rose?    Three point shooting and defense.   Hinrich provides both.   He may not be an elite shooter, but he's hit over 40% in two of his last three seasons and played top notch defense in two of his last three seasons.

On top of providing the two assets most necessary next to Rose at the SG position, he can also back up Rose to hedge against excessive wear or an injury.  The real question isn't whether Hinrich fits next to Rose, but rather does Hinrich make too much money to marginalize his role on the team to defender, backup PG, and spot up shooter?   With only three years left on his contract the commitment isn't that big, and he falls off the books when Rose needs an extension which should fit well with the Bulls financial planners.

Tyrus Thomas:  Tyrus has all the physical tools to be a great fit next to almost anyone.   His ability to play next to Rose largely depends on his ability to get his head out of his ass.    He often dazzles the crowd with dunks, blocks, and sheer emotion, but just as often he's not pushing hard to run up the court, attacking the glass, boxing out, or playing solid man defense.

Tyrus's ability to perform next to Rose requires him to improve considerably in skills or effort.   Either one will do, because if Tyrus played at a high energy level all the time then he'd be alone at the basket for an ally-oop all the time.   If Rose can't get him the ball there, then blame Rose, but at least get into position.    If Tyrus could develop a more consistent jumper to become a pick and roll threat, that'd work just as well as pressure opposing defenses.

As it stands, Tyrus needs to break out in a big way to have any shot of remaining with the Bulls.   That may not be in the cards in any situation other than him becoming a superstar, and at this point, he may not want it to be in the cards anyway after three frustrating seasons where he hasn't seen eye to eye with the coaching staff about his usage.

Joakim Noah: There are probably three things that could stop Noah from being a long term fit in Chicago.   He plays himself into a situation where another team offers him an unreasonably large contract that Chicago won't match, unlikely given that teams typically only overpay scorers.   He spends more time smoking weed than lifting weights.    He gets some type of debilitating injury.

Anything else, and Noah's your Chicago Bulls starting center for the next 5-6 years.   He has the potential to give a team everything a non-star center can give; man defense, help defense, rebounding, hustle, post passing, and on court leadership.   The only thing missing is some semblance of offensive game which might make him a max player even if he only chipped in 18 points a game.  

John Salmons: Salmons three point shooting is a plus next to Rose, and his contract price makes him fit nicely into the salary structure for as long as he's here given what tremendous value he provides for the money being paid.   On the downside he's a ball stopper, and doesn't defend well.   He's also approaching the age where his game is going to fall off a cliff while requiring a new deal.

Salmons is a great fit for any team if the price is right.   At the MLE or less he can be a nice asset due to his ability to create efficient offense on his own.  His inability to fit well into a system of ball movement or defend his position adequately limits his value though.  

The likeliness of Salmons remaining with the Bulls long term depends largely on whether he opts out of his contract or not.  If he opts in, then the Bulls will spend cap space in 2010 and can sign Salmons with bird rights in 2011.   If he opts out, the bulls will direct their cap space elsewhere.

He's not really a good fit next to Rose in terms of how his abilities play off of Rose, but he is a good fit in that his ability to work on his own will remove pressure from Rose and allow the Bulls to have another creator on the floor in clutch moments or while Rose is resting.

Brad Miller: He helps the team for as long as he stays healthy and his body doesn't completely betray him.  He's the only one who can set good picks for Rose and then hit an open jumper.   He's clearly not a long term solution at this point and would only return at the league minimum if at all next season.   

Jannero Pargo: He may provide nice spot up shooting while Rose drives, but he's a one year stop gap solution.

Johnson/Gibson:  It's tempting to write a big thing up about how they fit next to Rose, but after watching summer league I question whether Gibson belongs in the NBA, and Johnson's fit will depend entirely on how his game develops.   However, I've learned never to take too much out of summer league play, and both have years to improve their games.



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  • Doug...good read!
    Not sure I agree about Tyrus having potential to be a good fit with Rose. Rose needs a PF who can set picks and score in the post...Tyrus, really?

    Also, I thought that Salmons is an above average defender, pre-groin injury I thought he did a decent job. He's not Thabo, but he's not Gordon either.

  • I agree with Scooby, "a good read".

    I think you probably had 2 cups of good strong coffee and then wrote the article. It's a clear assessment of the Chicago Bulls except for one thing: Vinnie Del Negro.

    I especially liked the part on James Johnson and Taj Gibson. We just don't know what they will bring to the ball club.

    You might want to expand on the VDN factor: Vinnie Del Negro.

    Did Vinnie teach Derrick Rose anything in his first season beyond "throw the ball to Ben Gordon"? Can Vinnie motivate Tyrus to be the ball player he can be when Scott Skiles couldn't. Can Vinnie help Rose, Hinrich, and Salmons become better together on the court (that will be a tough one). As a coach, how can Vinnie help Joaquin Noah improve on his Boston Celtics playoff series?

    I would hope Vinnie can improve on 3 things, or delegate those tasks to his assistants:

    1) Improved game management. No more time out problems like the playoff series.
    2) Player skill improvements. Each player needs to improve on their technical skills. For example, can Tyrus learn to box out? Not so tough, I learned how to do it in grade school (honest). How does James Johnson improve his outside shot (he'll need it).
    3) Hustle. How does Vinnie get players to give 100% every game? And every practice?

    Thanks Doug, fine article. Can we have a skill assessment on Vinnie Del Negro or a 1st year report card on him? Hope so.

  • First I want to say great read.

    For me, the one person who would be getting heavy minutes in the rotation and is expendable is Deng. I love Deng because he is so efficient but his game just doesn't work with the way VDN wants to run the team. Also I think that Salmons would be a better fit since he does have a nice outside shot and he can cut with the best of them. He is great off the ball and if Derrick works on his court vision Salmons will be looking at a lot of passes coming his way.

    Deng is young and talented and we could fetch a decent price for him before the season starts if it looks like his leg is healed properly.

    The downside though is the fact that Deng is efficient offensively while Salmons is going to need the ball in his hands more often. While many would consider this a hinderance to Rose's growth. I think that this would help him because it is going to force Rose to work on that court vision, rely on his teammates and realize that even though they do fall a good amount of times, that he can't keep going up for the contested shot at the rim.

  • Can't wait for the VDN thread. There is a part of me that is surprised he's still around. It seems to suggest a FO concession on this season. Our success in the late and post-season seemed to be despite VDN vs. due to him. Bulls management has been long-standing proponents or rookie head coaches (even Phil).

  • nice post

  • I'd say out of the current Bulls.

    Kirk Hinrich - Good fit. Preferably as sixth man. Good shooter and defender. I would keep him around at his current price, and then re-sign him, and let him end his career with the Bulls, unless there is a killer trade that we need to involve him in.

    John Salmons - Just a solid short term fix. I don't think he will be as good this year with us that he was last year. I think Salmons played off Gordon more so than he did Rose. Obviously, he's probably not going to be any type of long term fit next to Rose because of age.

    Luol Deng - He was horrendous last year. Would get the ball, pump fake five times, then throw up a contested shot. If he can re-discover his mid-range shot, and hit it like 06-07, he is a good fit. I think he's at the very least a solid fit, because he's a very good defender.

    Tyrus Thomas - Hard to judge. It's not really a matter of Thomas fitting in because of his talent. When he's on his game, he's a real difference maker. When his head is off in la la land, he's useless to pretty much any team.

    Joakim Noah - Not really sold on him as the long term fit at starting center. I think he's too small right now, and probably forever, to be a starting center. He is too skinny, so he gets pushed around, that part can be fixed. His reach is a little too short for a starting center imo, and because of his lack of strength, his jumping reach when bodying up isn't all that great, despite having a pretty good vertical. I think Noah could be a good backup big, backing up both spots, kind of the Vareao role.

    James Johnson - I think he's probably a good fit if he taps into his potential. The guy's game is a good fit around Rose though. He has a pretty shooting stroke, and I think eventually those shots will go in with a stroke that smooth. We also saw him in summer league leading the fast breaks. I could see Johnson leading a fastbreak with Rose running on his side. I think Johnson will also be out and running on the fastbreak when Rose is leading the break.

    Taj Gibson - Will be out of the league in a few years, not a fit really anywhere in the league.

    Jannero Pargo - Just a backup point guard. He can shoot. Shouldn't be asking too much more out of your third string point guard. His fit isn't all that important imo, because of his role as third string point guard.

    Aaron Gray - Could be a good fit, as Gray can really set a good screen.

    Lindsey Hunter - Doesn't really fit. Old. Presumably just around as a locker room guy.

    Brad Miller - Good fit, but obviously not long term. Solid screens, and a creative passer. Can hit Rose when he's cutting to the basket. Can shoot the jumpshot (even threes) on the pick and pop.

  • big of a faux pas was the Bulls passing on Blair for Gibson? Summer League coverage barely even mentioned Johnson...let along Gibson. Meanwhile...Blair seemed to be a rebounding machine, as far as summer league play goes.

  • If we make the conference finals or NBA finals in the Rose era, I expect everybody except Noah to be gone.

    James Johnson could be there if he develops at the high end of his potential, but as of now we have no idea what he wil be, and is more likely to be average or a bust than outstanding.

    Hinrich at mid level money would be a good veteran to keep around as a combo 3rd guard, but I say he gets traded before his contract expires.

    As long as we are stuck with Deng as our starting small forward, we aren't going anywhere.

    If we don't hit a homerun in 2010 then it is time to blow it up, again.

    Carmelo Anthony can opt out in 2011, and I would take Anthony over anybody from the 2010 class not named Lebron or Wade.

    IMO you seem to consistently underate Salmons defensive abilities. My only question is can he defend 2 guards, however since Gordon was as bad of a defender as there has ever been at his position, Salmons has to be an upgrade.

    The most interesting question is will Salmons and Deng fit together better than Gordon and Deng did. At least the professional jealousy issue has been elimanated.

    Doug, did you catch Gordon on 670 the score. Still sounds like he hit the bong pretty hard before the interview, maybe that is why he is such a slacker on Defense and in transition.

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