Bulls fans seem awfully upset lately, and who can blame them. Not only have they lost six of the last seven games, but the six losses were all blowouts. Management has made some mistakes. I don't know if they'd admit them, but not signing Ben Gordon at the beginning of last season to a 6/54 deal when he tried to take it and drafting Taj Gibson over Dejuan Blair have been fairly critical blunders. Redo on those two moves and this team looks pretty great right now.
That being said, it's no where near as bad as it feels right now. I noted in preseason that this team's primary problem was that it had 7 starting caliber players, but no stars, and no depth after that. If we had injuries in that group, we'd be in big trouble. Well, with two guys down in that group welcome to big trouble.
Our starting lineup isn't good enough to win games vs other starting lineups. Where we could make hay in an ideal world is when we go to the bench. Hinrich and Miller coming in to the game with a sprinkle of Taj Gibson or James Johnson would give us a pretty large advantage vs the bench against most teams. We'd look for our starters to break even and our bench to give us a large advantage.
Any given night some guy could step up and deliver the performance that wins the game.
However, missing two of those guys we now have another 50 minutes that need to be filled by Lindsay Hunter, Taj Gibson, James Johnson, and Aaron Gray. 50 minutes that were a distinct advantage for us have become a liability. With everyone healthy, our starters needed to come close to breaking even. With two significant injuries, our starters need to convincingly beat up the other team's starters.
The Bulls simply aren't a quality team with any injuries to their prime rotation players. Do you blame management for not finding better end of bench players? I suppose you could, however what were the Bulls really going to do with the money available? They had about 2 million to exceed the minimum salary to spread out over four players.
Yeah, they could have maybe done better than Lindsay Hunter with one of those spots, but some other guy at the minimum wasn't going to make a huge difference right now. The one mistake management made this summer was taking Taj Gibson over Dejuan Blair. Unless Blair's legs turn into dust sometime in the season, he would have made a huge difference with this team.
On top of the injuries, the Bulls have played the toughest schedule in the NBA to date according to the Jeff Sagarin rankings. To come out of that at 7-11 is pretty good. In fact, under the circumstances, their record has exceeded their overall play by a considerable amount.
The tricky part now will be taking advantage of a softened schedule while they still have injuries. They're about to roll through some games that should have been easy wins, but with the current injuries there are no easy wins. If healthy, this team could still win 45 games. If the team is always fighting off an injury, they're going to win closer to 35.