Solve the Bulls SG woes, start not-Bogans


Since the start of the NBA season, Bulls fans have railed against the starting of Keith Bogans.   Bogans doesn't make many mistakes on offense, at least if you don't count a missed open jumper a mistake (and most don't), and plays decent, functional defense.

He doesn't play when it counts, as Thibodeau tends to play Ronnie Brewer or Kyle Korver in those moments.   However, the Bulls, on the whole, are not getting much production out of the SG position largely because of Bogans' 16 minutes a night.

The problem won't be solved until Thibodeau drops the notion of starting Keith Bogans.

We've seen this before when Scott Skiles had his man-crush on Chris Duhon, and it took a seven or so game stretch where Duhon shot around 12% from the field for him to finally relent.  Why do coaches' fall into this trap?   I don't know.

Bulls fans have lined up all kinds of trade scenarios to grab guys like J.R. Smith, Anthony Johnson, and other middling players to solve the Bogans problem, but the problem is solved by simply not playing him.

Start Kyle Korver

I laid out the long case for starting Korver here.  The short point of the story here is that Kyle Korver plays much better with Derrick Rose.  He's now in a position where he shoots spot up shots rather than turn around shots off of double baseline screens.

He also puts Watson in position to be a more free ranging shot creator off the bench instead of trying to force him into a disciplined spot up role.   We've seen what Watson can do when he's told to create shots for himself instead of play slow down ball and wait for Korver to come off of screens.  You're upgrading both Watson and Korver considerably with this move.

Ronnie Brewer's skills, on the other hand, are equally valuable regardless of who he plays with.

Don't like that?  Start Ronnie Brewer

Hey I want to start Korver, but I'm not picky, because you can't go wrong starting Brewer either.

Ronnie Brewer played his best ball in Utah when he played 32 minutes a game.  He averaged 13.7 points a game, drew plenty of fouls, still played great defense, and shot over 50% from the field.   The complaint some have about Brewer is that he doesn't adequately space the floor for Rose.

However, neither does Bogans, and Bogans doesn't space it any more than Brewer does.   Other teams completely ignore Bogans and are content to leave him wide open to shoot threes if it means covering Boozer/Rose better.  

However, unlike Bogans, Brewer is at least a threat to drive to the hoop and draw a foul or make a cut to a basket for an easy shot when he's left open.  He's not pressuring the opposing defense tremendously, but he's applying considerably more pressure than Keith Bogans is.

Defensively, Brewer is obviously a huge upgrade over Bogans.  Bogans is functional, but Brewer is functional and disruptive.   (by functional, I mean a defender who funnels his man into help defense and generally contests shots, by disruptive I mean a player who can cause deflections, play passing lines, generate steals etc)  

Overall, Brewer is simply a considerably better player than Keith Bogans is.  It's not close.

Now for something completely different...
Start C.J. Watson

Sounds insane right?   Of course it does, but it's actually considerably more sane than starting Keith Bogans.

Watson shoots better than Bogans and can put the ball on the floor and drive if left open as well.  He'll do a considerably better job than Bogans in providing spacing and punishment if the opposing team mobs Boozer/Rose and give the Bulls a second ball handler on the floor.

It's not particularly practical only for the reason that there's no backup PG to come in the game when one of them rests, but many teams basically play a three man guard rotation, so the Bulls could do this simply by subbing Watson for Brewer at the 6 minute mark than subbing Watson in for Rose again later.

It'd raise Watson's total minutes to around 22 per game (6 to start the first and 3rd and 5 minutes for Rose's 2nd quarter and 4th quarter rest).   However, Watson likely plays much better with a consistent 22 minutes per game than he does now.

On top of that, Watson's done a solid job defensively really getting after it against opponents playing really hard through screens and pressuring the ball.  I've been more impressed with Watson's defense than Bogans.  Granted, Watson's likely undersized as a starting two, and of the three scenarios, this one makes the least sense, but though it's basically non-sensical, it makes more sense than starting Bogans.

The solution to the SG problem lies in playing our best players not trading for another SG

Trading for a SG sounds great, but the problem is the Bulls have few pieces to offer to bring in a guy who's better than Brewer/Korver.   The problem is simply that the Bulls aren't playing those guys enough.  

Could Stephen Jackson help this team?  Maybe, but at his age, he's unlikely to play better than Brewer over the next three seasons.  Could O.J. Mayo help this team?  Perhaps, but he's grousing about playing the same role we want him to play in Memphis now, why would he be happy to play it here?  In fact, here, his role is even smaller.

Could J.R. Smith or Anthony Parker help us?   No, these guys aren't better than the guys we already have and aren't playing enough.   They upgrade Bogans, but we don't need to upgrade our 5th guard.   We just need to play him like a 5th guard.

Don't get me wrong, I like Keith Bogans as a 5th guard.  He's one of the better 5th guards in the league, but he's the Bulls 5th best guard.  No team actively plays it's top five guard options unless it's consistently playing small ball due to a lack of big man options. 

The Bulls need to put Bogans back into the role he belongs.   When you need him to hold down the fort due to an injury for 10-15 minutes a night he'll be there, but we don't need to keep getting killed with him every night. 


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  • The tougher question...

    Why does Coach Thibodeau start Bogans?

    That's the article I'd like to read.

  • In reply to rkraneis:

    I think, this may not be all on Thibs. Maybe management is sure that an upgrade is coming and they don't want to mess up Brewer's or Korver's role. It is just a theory...

  • In reply to supercesto:

    Like I have said before... there has to be something behind this starting Bogans, there has to be.

  • In reply to supercesto:

    I think Thibs starts Bogans because he likes having a "second unit" that can play minutes and relieve all of the starters. By starting Bogans, he ensures that you can have both Brewer and Korver's skill sets on that second unit: a defensive guard who can force turnovers and score in transition and a shooter who can stretch the floor.

    I'd still prefer to strengthen our starting unit by starting Korver or Brwer, but I find our trouble scoring in the 4th quarter to be more of an issue than our struggle to score a lot in the 1st. We've had several games over the last 2 weeks where the Bulls do not score for extended periods in the 4th. That's a huge problem.

  • In reply to edwardbuell:

    yeah our bench is killing us. brewer is scoring efficiently, but he really can't get his own offense. most of watson's shots are missing. korver has proven that he can't be a scorer off the bench. he just doesn't have the athleticism to get enough seperation to get a quality look. if thibs is saving these guys for the bench, he might be retarded.

  • In reply to edwardbuell:

    With the Bulls 0-5 against teams with winning records n the Eatern conference the question begs: does this team have the pieces to make a playoff run i.e get past the first round and possibly o the ECF?

    Answer: not if what were thought of as major pick ups C.J Watson, Kyle Korver, and Ronnie Brewer don't give you some serious production. Right now Korver(who I was not excited about when we picked him up - thought he was overrated) is giving you the identical numbers he did the last couple of seasons. But the same can not be said of Ronnie Brewer and certainly not what is looking like a dud(offensively) in C.J. Watson.

    Looking at Deng he looks like he's losing steam. His scoring is certainly down. Instead of playing him 38 mpg(minutes per game) why not try pulling what the Lakers did the last two seaons(when they won two world championships) with Lamar Odom.

    In both those season Odom averaged about 29mpg. While scoring 9-10 ppg(on high efficiency/FG%) with 9 boards per game. That is very good production, but also saves energy for outbursts in many games where they really need him. I think the same strategy could work with Deng.

    Ronnie Brewer and C.J.(Watson) both average about 25-26 mpg, and correspondingly produce about 10ppg on high FG%. With Deng's minutes going down to say 32mpg that gives Ronnie some time at SF, and frees up minutes for C.J. at the two. Of course Bogans has to be taken out of the regular rotation seeing spot minutes only to keep him engaged when needed for foul trouble, injurie, etc.

    If we can simply get C.J. and Ronnie up their historic levels(with both still basically young players) then that's an extra 12ppg(?) with two very solid defenders on the floor. granted C.J is undersized, but he stays in front of his man very well from what I've seen/I've been impressed with his defensive effort/ability.

    Then you have a Bulls/Lakers team strength effect with C.J., and Ronnie emerging with more production on a nightly basis, and others when they(including Deng) are in zone mode individually lifting the team.

    It's troubling to me that Thibs has let this pattern of offensive stagnation continue for so long clinging to high minutes for Deng while lowered time for known producers over the ineffective Bogans. The fact that he's applied no player minutes adjustment algebra so to speak to this situation to up production/chemistry to me is not a good sign. And when comparisons of Thibs/Bogans situation mirror Duhon/Skiles that definitely does not bode well for Thibs as we know Scott had/has his limitations offensively.

    Side note: I have to believe there is a better way for Korver to get open shots without all the crazy running through multiple screens to get open. If a defender is pinned to him then Boozer, Rose, or somebody else on the floor should be able t make them pay for that commitment. And Korver honestly does get many open looks on some nights, and surprisingly bricks them. Looking at his career numbers they absoluetly suggest role player/ not starter to me.

    Again, if C.J. and Ronnie get 25-26 minutes or above I think the chances for their production increasing not just on a per minutes basis, but exponentially as their history/career numbers show.

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    sorry for the typos I forgot to edit/reread before posting

  • In reply to MarkNorman:

    I can't place blame on Watson/Korver/Brewer for their failure to meet career averages, simply because they aren't being put in the position to meet those expectations. Korver is being run around like a chinchilla and is forced to take fade away contested 3 pointers, Watson is forced to wait around for Korver and facilitate when he should be creating for himself, Brewer isn't getting the looks he would as a starter since teams can play better D on him due to the lesser talent on the floor around him. I like Thibs but he has to put them in a better position to succeed.

  • In reply to edwardbuell:

    Hockey line changes, FTW!!!

  • In reply to supercesto:

    I never wanted a Bulls player to go down with a injury as much as I do Bogans!!!! LOL
    If that's what it takes to get him out of the starting unit and onto the bench where he belongs then so be it!

    Where's Tonya Harding with that billy club when we need her?! ;-)

  • In reply to smiley:

    Unfortunatly you are not the only one who feels this way, the mere sight of Bogans makes me want to puke or gouge my eyes out.

    Can't he just shred a hamstring or something like that.

  • In reply to rkraneis:

    The only reason I can think of why Brewer is not starting is because he brings energy off the bench. But this doesn't explains why Korver or CJ watson not starting. Hopefully Thibs can stop his stubboness

  • In reply to rkraneis:

    Thibs starts Bogans because he's a numbnuts with constipation of the frickin brain.

  • In reply to cleansupwell:

    i think you're overlooking the obvious. Thibs is a bull headed idiot that prefers the devil he knows over the devil that he doesn't.

    that or bogans is shooting lights out gordon style in practice.

  • In reply to rkraneis:

    What was the logic of getting Bogans in the first place ... lol! If we can get a consistent third scorer ( alas O.J. Mayo ) to score at least 13 to 15 a night we would be the talk of the NBA!

  • In reply to TommyChamp:

    Brewer was a 13 PPG scorer with Utah shooting over 50%. Just saying.

  • In reply to rkraneis:

    Bogans earned the starting position at the beginning of the season by playing above expectations in practice and in games when Brewer was injured. Tibs knows that Brewer is a better player and in a month or so he'll start... but bottomline he has to play well for a stretch of games to earn the right to start.

  • In reply to AirPrentice23:

    Sounds reasonable...

    Your theory on Thibodeau starting Bogans ahead of others makes the most sense.

    Thibodeau is so rational that he actually sat Boozer in the crucial last minutes of the Detroit game. Boozer had done his offensive job, but Thibs needed Gibson for defense to close out the game.

  • In reply to AirPrentice23:

    hey Doug, please tells me you're joking when you say J.R smith isn't better than Brewer or Korer !

  • In reply to AirPrentice23:

    Perfectly said Doug! We can't waste trading Gibson or giving up picks for Guards that are no better than Korver/Brewer.

    Other than the Bogans thing/substitutions and inbound plays I think Thibs has done a great job. It is insane how he doesn't see this but most coaches always have a blind spot, Bogans is his.

  • In reply to AirPrentice23:

    I gotta believe Brewer will start before too long. The bigger point is that the Bulls won't be that much better off if they significantly weaken other areas in order to upgrade the SG spot. Losing Taj would be a huge blow to our front line depth. You don't do that unless the upgrade at SG is enough to offset the loss of front line depth. I don't think there's a realistic deal out there right now that does that. The only way I'd move Taj in a deal for JR Smith is if we can find a serviceable replacement for Taj.

  • Watching Bogans now that Noah is out is even more painful, if that is at all possible. The one thing Bogans could do well, funnel offensive players into Noah, is now moot.

    Bogans would have been a perfect starter for Tim Floyd's Bulls. For the current edition, not so much.

  • The problem with the bulls still isn't the SG position. Bogans isn't playing enough to cause any real problems. The problem is that they are still playing Deng too many minutes. He can't be both the primary defensive stopper and the third option on offense. He shouldn't have to play 44 minutes against the Pistons to win.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    i completely agree

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    Best fifth guard in the league? Come on Doug, thats just a nice way of saying the best things he does are sitting on the bench and pinwheeling a towel over his head like James Johnson does every game.

  • Giving up Taj seems to be the price of getting a starting caliber SG.

    Taj is about the only tradable asset we have that has any value, other than the Charlotte pick.

  • Bostin also managed to bring Paul P some help when it was just him and a bunch of OK players. Let's hope the Bulls follow Boston in that regard as well.

  • HAHAHA!!!

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