Gibson replaces Boozer, but who replaces Gibson?

So Boozer's out with an injury, and the obvious response to what's going to happen is that Taj Gibson will slide into Boozer's role.   However, that's not really what's important, because Taj Gibson was likely to play nearly 30 minutes a night anyway backing up the four and five anyway.  I doubt his minutes increase by more than five or so a game due to Boozer's injury, just the timing of those minutes change.

As such, the real question isn't who replaces, Boozer, that answer is obvious.   The real question is who replaces Gibson's bench minutes?


So let's assume the rest of the front line stays reasonably healthy for the period Boozer is out and that there are no other injuries.    The Bulls will need to fill about 35 minutes per game with guys who wouldn't ordinarily play.

If we assume that Gibson and Noah each play around 32 minutes a game there are 16 minutes at center and 16 minutes at power forward left to fill.    The most straight forward approach to this is to leave the guard rotation the same and have Thomas play 16 at PF and Asik play 16 at C.   Everyone stays in a natural position, and the Bulls offense probably plays similarly, but less effectively, than what they'd have done with Boozer in the game.

In an in interview with Kurt Thomas that proved too prophetic for my liking I asked how his body would stand up to playing significant minutes if one of our injury prone big men were to miss significant time.

"I can play as many minutes as coach can dish out.  I feel I'm in great shape right now, I'm healthy, I'm feeling good, and if that number is 20 minutes or 30 minutes, no matter how many minutes are allotted me I'm ready."

And while Kurt is no Carlos Boozer, the type of game he plays is somewhat similar.  He'll go in play physically, hit the open jumper, set a tough pick, and rebound the basketball.

Now, I feel fairly confident that Thomas is ready to pick up whatever slack comes his way in terms of minutes, but a little less so with Asik.   The Bulls do have other options available to pick up those extra 16 minutes, and I expect small ball to be implemented for a good portion of the time on the floor.

If you look at last season's minutes per game.  Rose, Watson, Brewer, Bogans, Korver, and Deng add up to 170 minutes per game to fill 144 minutes per game of action.   That means without injuries in the backcourt some of those guys will be playing considerably less minutes.    On the other hand, without Boozer, the Bulls have less minutes to fill up the front court rotation.

Thus, another natural move is to play some small ball with Luol Deng or James Johnson playing the four and then two of Bogans, Watson, Korver, and Brewer playing in the wing positions.   C.J. Watson in particular has a scoring mentality where the Bulls could put him in with a green light to create his own shot similar to Ben Gordon to lead a second unit for a few minutes at a time.

We may also see some fast paced transition oriented lineups like Derrick Rose, Cj Watson, Korver, Luol Deng, and Joakim Noah  which could give the Bulls a very different look for a few minutes at a time by giving the team a lot of shooting on the floor and a high pace factor in which the goal is to play fast every possession and get an open shot in transition or an open three in the early offensive look for Watson, Korver, or Deng out of the corner.

The biggest loss with Boozer is that the Bulls most effective style of play is no longer to go inside out through the post which means they need to rework the system on the fly, or play through a system that doesn't fit the personnel on the floor as effectively for a month to build the familiarity with it. 

For his part, Thibodeau has stated the Bulls intends to keep things relatively the same.

"The philosophy is not going to change," said Thibodeau. "We're still
going to be inside/out. There may not be as many postups. We may be
more off the dribble to get into the paint. We've got other guys who can
post up, Luol. Omer can post up. Jo. We're still going to play inside

I'll say this, the injury tests Thibodeau significantly early on in his tenure.   Stick with a scheme no longer fit perfectly to your personnel?   Try to play through gimmicks?   How to manage the rotation?   We're going to learn a lot about what Thibodeau is about early on in the process.

If he can guide the Bulls to a .500 finish while Boozer's out it should be viewed as a success under the circumstances.


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    "We've got other guys who can post up, Luol. Omer can post up. Jo. We're still going to play inside out."

    Interesting that Taj is not a name Thibs dropped as a post-up option. Rather than starting Taj he may want to use these other guys as a solution and lock the young forward into his role as a 3rd big.

    Let's not forget one other option the Bulls have. Rose can start droppin 40 on people. Yes, this is a test for Thibodeau but it may be a bigger one for Derrick. He says there's no reason he can't be an MVP, now would be the time to show it.

  • I like three as back-ups to Taj Gibson, while Carlos Boozer is out.

    - Earl Barron
    - Josh Boone
    - Chris Wilcox (I think he gets cut loose by Detroit)

    Outside of that, I don't see much else out there.

  • I can see it now, Kurt "the prophet" Thomas will lead us across the West on the dreaded circus journey... This could get interesting, and not interesting in a happy go lucky "oh thats cool" kind of way.

    Agreed that this will be an ominous test for Thibs. But until we see how he handles this I'll cling to the notion that we should just be thankful VDN isn't the coach in this situation. Vinny would probably try starting Boozer after going on a three game losing streak. Only to get tag teamed by a GarPax combo punch.

  • How is no one talking about our best player, Brian Scalabrine. Obviously he is the answer to our prayers. He can do about 2-4% of what Boozer can do, so this is a no brainer. Get him in the starting lineup as quickly as possible. I gotta get my jersey!

  • LOL Yeah I'm so happy to see a Ginger on the sidelines waving the white towel at our team.
    Hopefully we can be 500 or better by the time Boozer comes back and not throw in the towel on the circus trip. Can't they move that dang circus to Allstat in Rosemont of even the new Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates??? Even the UIC?

  • In reply to smiley:

    Scalabrine jersey it is. LOL

  • In reply to smiley:

    Has Dampier already signed somewhere? I have been saying since they signed Thomas that they are thin up front. Thomas has dropped off significantly in the past two seasons, so I don't think he is the answer to take Gibson's minutes. Of the 96 minutes between the PF and C spots, I was pretty sure that Boozer, Noah and Gibson would take up 90+ minutes. So we would see either Thomas or Asik for 5 to 7 minutes a game. I don't think Thomas can play effectively for more than 10 to15 minutes if he has to play every game. That leaves a void of about 15 to 20 minutes a game that will have to filled by Deng, JJ and Asik. I felt the Thomas hiring was more along the line of Lindsey Hunter. That he would be more a mentor to our young bigs and not see much playing time. So if JJ and/or Asik doesn't come through early, the Bulls need to pick up another big man.
    I'm still ticked they did not pick up Jermaine O'Neil when he became available.

  • In reply to smiley:

    Ya i would look into Dampier as well. Hes cheap, plus hes huge. At least he can rebound and somewhat defend. You could even slide Noah over to the 4 if you do that. Thats a huge front line. Deng SF 6-9,Noah PF 6-11 and then Dampier C at 7-0. But if we dont do any of that, I would probably start Taj because i would want him to continue to get better. Plus im not sure how he will do coming off the bench just yet. It might mess his rythm up. Kurt an Asik should be able to handle the bench roles.

    Rose, Cj Watson
    Deng, James Johnson
    Noah, Taj
    Dampier, Asik

    Would have trouble scoring but at least they can play D an rebound. When Boozer comes back, Dampier becomes the backup C.

  • In reply to smiley:


    Dampier wants to start, so don't look for him on the Bulls.

    Keep an eye on Earl Barron, Josh Boone and Chris Wilcox.

  • In reply to smiley:

    He could start for 15 games if the Bulls move Noah to the 4 lol

  • In reply to Csharp:


    It wouldn't shock me to see him go to Toronto. He'd start there.

  • In reply to smiley:

    Noah , taj, keeping the cash and roster space > dampier , noah

  • In reply to smiley:

    Boozer was supposed to be the other star scoring presence(not to mention low post big) we were missing.

    This injury poses a challenge to one Derrick Rose to step up as a scoring force so the team can win. Period. Teams without all-stars and scoring forces don't win. Not consistently. Rose is going to have to take the challenge and embrace it if he wants his team to win especially with Booz on the shelf. I'm thinking 24 ppg at min.

    It will be a tough road to hoe considering his defense needs constant effort/moving his feet which seemed to detract from his offensive assertiveness and energy at times in the FIBA tourney.

    If Derrick does take the next step/shines while Booz is out then the necessity of filling that void could be a silver lining. But if Brewer is down too for any length of time or is hampered then that's two losses of supposed starters. Not good. But we'll see. Way too early to push the panic button.

    There's a real chance Noah comes back an improved player if he's added strength for the blocks defensively and offensively. And he and Taj together again could improve as a defensive tandem under Thibs which was already pretty good at times shot blocking etc. last season particulalry on that west coast win streak.

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    You seem to forget that D Rose was the scoring force last year and did avg almost 24ppg last season if you exclude the 1st two months when his ankle was hindering him. The Bulls were a pretty formidable team when Rose and Noah were healthy together. Now we have a couple extra weapons to help as well.

    I am with Doug though, .500 until Boozer comes back is a success. Especially considering the schedule gets quite appealing starting December 11th. The Bulls have a 14 game stretch against a bunch of bottom feeders. They should be able to put together a 10-4 record to get things rolling and bulid some continuity w/ Booz while beating on some bad teams.

  • In reply to bcz1980:

    I didn't forget anything. My point as stated is that if Derrick is going to step up to another level of effecting winning, his defensive effort will have to be there consistently which it has not been while maintaining his offensive agressiveness/production.

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    That I agree with but that is not what you originally said. Hopefully Rose does take things to a new level while Boozer is out, he is going to need to regardless if the Bulls hope to compete for a title in the next few seasons.

  • In reply to smiley:

    Noah needs to develop some offense. Get some post moves, more hook shots, up an unders. Now that he is making the big bucks....he needs to start scoring more too.

  • In reply to smiley:


    That could be a good thing. He needs to learn how to do work in the post.

    Thibs should definitely try that.

    PG - Rose/Watson/Lucas
    SG - Brewer/Bogans/Weaver
    SF - Korver/Johnson
    PF - Deng/Gibson/Scalabrine
    C - Noah/Thomas/Asik

    It would also get Johnson some playing time. It's not or never for that kid.


  • I would like to see JJ get an early chance to backup Taj at PF. Hopefully he has matured and can play within the system. With his quickness he can be very effective against other PFs. I think trying to switch him to SG is asking too much from a guy who struggles to find his place on the court.

    I would also like to see Asik get a look at Center with Thomas sliding to PF. Let's see what the kid's got.

  • It is really going to be a challenge because we expected so much offense from Boozer. Is Thibs going to start Korver at SG now?
    I think Watson/Korver/Rose will be the most important guys in the sense they are the only true offense first players in the rotation. It is not easy to play everyone and expect all of them to function well. It takes time for some players to establish rhythm...
    I don't feel good about this season. If the Bulls have to rally to make a good seed during Mar/Apr...that will usually impact the playoffs..

  • When you get lemons, make Lemonade

    Obviously, we'd like a healthy Boozer to start the season.

    But Taj Gibson will become an even better player during the 1st 2 months. The Bulls may struggle a bit, but I think we'll be OK.

    In the long run, a Carlos Boozer with fresh legs may just what the Bulls need in 2 months.

  • In reply to rkraneis:

    I agree that it will benefit taj. Sure boozer coming back will be a boost, but id take a 15 game worn boozer who's actually worked in thibs system through practice and pt than a fresh booze whos all of a sudden thrown into the game with minimal experience with his teamates.

  • In reply to rkraneis:

    Sure the injury sucks but its 15 games in the beginning of the season. No biggie. We'll be fine. We still have a competitive team capable of beating anyone on any given night.

    Just get rid of Jackie Moon aka Scalabrine

  • In reply to rkraneis:

    Didn't expect this injury to come so soon & sure didn't expect him to do it at home.... GET SOME BRIGHTER LIGHTS IN YOUR HOME HOMIE! But I think everyone expected an injury at some point.

    I think the 35 mpg Boozer would have been playing get absorbed by pretty much everyone (except Rose), even down to CJ Watson. In addition to the obvious K. Thomas getting minutes at the 4 & Asik as well (maybe at the 5 while Noah plays 4?), Thibs will play Deng there some which will free up minutes for Korver at the 3 & allow Brewer more minutes, Watson, maybe even Bogans too.

  • If it means more early 40+ minute night for Deng, it's a recipe for disaster.

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