Should the Bulls shorten the rotation?

The Bulls were killed again while Bogans played.  It's been a familiar theme for Chicago all season long.   Tom Thibodeau has been stubborn with Bogans all season long as well.   It's really hard to argue with his calls given that the Bulls won 62 games.  In the end, whatever you think of his rotations, they got us to the best record in the NBA, so obviously the downside impact is somewhat minimal (if any at all).

Still, playoff teams are shortening their rotations, they're limiting the minutes of their deep rotation guys.   The Bulls need to follow suit.

How long do you put up with the lack of productivity?

Bogans has been better recently, but the level of competition is getting kicked up   The Bulls typically start games flat, and it's hard to ignore Keith Bogans as one of the primary reasons for that.

While he's a solid functional defender, he doesn't initiate many fast breaks with steals or do anything disruptive to hurt the opposing offense.   On offense he doesn't space the floor and only occasionally punishes the other team for not defending him.

The net effect is that the team doesn't have much energy on either end.   Rose/Boozer are working against a crowded paint on offense, and the defense plays a bit flat.  The Bulls can vastly improve their starts to games by making a change.

Who to put in his place?

The hard part here is deciding who to stick in his place.   Kyle Korver gives you offense, but I'd be a bit wary of him putting the Bulls in foul trouble early as well as getting himself in foul trouble early.   He'd give you the big offensive spark you're looking for though as even if he's not hitting shots, he's giving Rose/Boozer plenty of room to work with.

Ronnie Brewer's not spacing the floor any better than Keith Bogans, but he does apply a bit more pressure to the opposing defense.   That may sound counter intuitive because he's a worse three point shooter, but understand that the opposing defense does not honor Bogans three at all.   As such, he applies no pressure, he can only supply punishment for them ignoring him.

Brewer's three is also not honored at all, however, he does apply pressure with his athleticism and basket cuts.   He moves well without the ball, and he finds openings under the hoop routinely for easy baskets.   In the end, Brewer provides more volume scoring than Bogans does, and because of his considerably higher FG%, his scoring is more consistent.

Either way is better than what the Bulls are presently doing.

Does it mess with your rotation to pull him?

Bogans plays 17 minutes a game.  However, can you give 8 minutes to both Korver and Brewer?  

Does Korver get exploited more on defense?   Does he cause you more foul problems and put you in the penalty sooner?   Is he going to be in too much foul trouble at the end of the game?

Does Ronnie Brewer still give you the same intensity over 30 minutes that he gives you over 22 minutes?   Can he be just as disruptive his entire time on the floor?

Those are legitimate questions.   However, I think the answer, clearly in Brewer's case, is that he'll still give you the same effort and ability.   He had his best season as a pro while playing 30 minutes a game.   Do we worry about Rose not having enough juice in the tank to finish because he plays over 30 minutes?

Ronnie Brewer's an elite athlete he won't wear out.

I worry a little more about Korver staying out of foul trouble and keeping the team out of foul trouble.   Also, Korver's not quite the elite athlete that Brewer is, and I wonder if he does slow down if he has to play as many minutes running around screens defending guys much more athletic and bigger than he is.

That said, Korver's role in the starting lineup wouldn't to be to run around the double screens nearly so much as to just space the floor.  As such energy wouldn't likely be a problem.   Foul trouble could be a concern, but if it is, then you bring Keith Bogans in as an emergency player who only plays due to foul trouble in the 2nd or 3rd quarter.

Bogans would still have some utility in this case, as the Bulls likely would need to use him occasionally if teams press Korver too hard, but you'd be playing him the minimum amount every game rather than guaranteeing him 16 minutes or so a game.

A couple other solutions

It doesn't just have to be Bogans yes/no.   The Bulls could limit his minutes in the opening rotation to just six or so.   This would get him down to 12 minutes a game and strengthen the lineup.

The other theory is to only play him in his first shift and not go back to him in the third period unless the Bulls have to play him again later due to foul trouble of other players.

While there's no chance it's going to happen, it would have been nice if Thibodeau had gone to Rasual Butler a few times at the end of the season in order to see if he could replace Bogans.  He's probably a somewhat better shooter and provides a bit more athleticism and is more of a threat off the dribble and in transition.

At this stage of the game, Butler's probably too risky to throw out there, but I would have liked to see what the Bulls had in him a bit more before the playoffs started.

Final thoughts

The Bulls were exposed with Bogans out there in game one.  Bogans isn't the cause of all of the problems, but he makes all of the problems more likely and the impact of those problems worse. 

If he can't start knocking down some threes, the Bulls are going to pay for their stubbornness in sticking with him.    Hopefully, the insistence on playing Bogans doesn't come back to bite the Bulls in the playoffs.


Leave a comment
  • Bogans is the only player I would cut out.

    I'd keep the Bench Mob together, just play them a shorter amount of time.

    I'd keep playing K Thomas situationally, going to him earlier in this series to frustrate Roy Hibbert who got off to a great start against Noah

    But yeah, I'd cut out Bogans, and play Watson more at the 2 since Rose won't be sitting much & it would also give them another ball handler.

  • and the downside of the impact you allude to, is that it could hurt us here in the playoffs, and we didn't have the regular season to get used to such a rotation. Of course Korver has played a lot with the other starters, still....

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Worth noting that all the other teams who shorten their rotation are also going to have to deal with those types of changes, but everyone else is still doing it.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    to their starting lineups though?

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    I agree they should do it, but they should have done it at the end of the regular season

  • There is something to this chemistry thing which Thibs believes. So, he is not changing anything whatever we want him to do unless he wants to spring a surprise based on something going on in practice like Rasual Butler practising a little bit with the first team.

    The biggest thing which irks me about Bogans is he cannot make more than half of his non-contested shots. Say what you want about Boozer but somebody is in his face when he tries his shot. We just have to trust Thibs. He can easily distribute Bogans's minutes among CJ,Brewer,Korver and Butler.

  • so we shouldn't thank bogans? ;)

  • In reply to pinkizdead:

    Note, I'm not the author of the Bogans tribute ;)

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    i know. I doubt the author of bogans tribute actually wants to thank bogans for his outstanding play. The piece was just a reaction to the overwhelming amount of criticism bogans has received.

  • In reply to pinkizdead:

    Since I am the author, I can state with absolute certainty that you are correct, sir.

    I did however, thank Bogans in the article because, as I stated, I believe he's been a contributor to a remarkable season. Not a major contributor mind you, but a contributor nonetheless. I honestly believe that if Bogans didn't start and only played 10 mpg, fans would be OK with him.

  • In reply to Nossem:

    completely agree.

  • In reply to Nossem:

    I agree with you.

    I also think though, that if Bogans didn't play at all, fans would be okay with that, and that our win total might have been even higher.

    While that's ultimately irrelevant how, I do think Bogans not playing at all would give us a better chance to win.

    This isn't to say Bogans is a bad guy or anything. I believe he tries hard, he always tries to play within his abilities, he doesn't do dumb stuff (Generally), and for a guy signed for a shade over the minimum, I think he's been a quality player.

    However, I think we'd have been better served playing other players ahead of him and using him as a depth guy in more of a Kurt Thomas role where he's only off the bench in injury/emergency situations.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    My first reaction was sure, why not cut Bogans from the rotation? But it didn't take long to change my mind.

    A) Start Korver. He's come through in the clutch during 4th quarters, but he hasn't been all that hot 1-3 lately. Plus, do you want Korver starting opposite Wade in the ECF?

    B) Start Brewer. I love this guy, and he's good enough to start, but it would be a bad move to disrupt the Bench Mob, a group in which he and Taj are the foundation.

    I guess that leaves me with Bogans starting, although I'd endorse getting him out of the game sooner, after maybe five or six minutes in, rather than seven or eight, for 10-12 mpg. Either way, I doubt Thibs stuck with him this long to change his mind now.

  • In reply to muhammond:

    The problem is they've already disrupted the bench mob by subbing out Asik and Gibson lots of minutes and plugging in Kurt Thomas.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    very good article Doog. I've been thinking of that since yesterday. As you said, The problem with brewer is that he doesn't space the floor and the problem with Korver, he doesn't defend well.

    How about Watson ?? According to me, we should start watson. That guy can defen, creates fastbreats (by stealing) and most of all he can shoot 3's.

    Anyway Thibs should play Bogans less. And i think his minutes of the first and the third quarter should go to Watson. You are right, Thibs should have tested Butler.

    furthermore, bulls must take Thomas and Asik off the rotation. It really hurts having guys who can't score in the playoffs.

  • In reply to deewaves:

    I like CJ but the Bulls shouldn't start him because we need him as true backup for Derrick...but he could get a little bit more time with Derrick on the court!

  • In reply to BekimKukiqi:

    Feel the same way. While CJ bit it yesterday, he's been very good in his role . . . but I'd like to see him stay in it. I don't mind seeing CJ and Rose together for a few minutes, but not at the start of games.

  • In reply to muhammond:

    why ?

  • In reply to BekimKukiqi:

    CJ only plays 10 min a game as a backup PG. If he start instead of Bogans. It would be 20 min a game for him. I don't see what's wrong with that. It doesn't prevent him from playing PG when Rose is benched.

  • In reply to deewaves:

    I have no problems with giving him 15 - 20 minutes, but CJ isn't your starting SG when you have no other PG backup!

  • In reply to BekimKukiqi:

    why not ? and don't forget that there's John Lucas III

  • In reply to deewaves:

    Because I don't want to see John Lucas III during the playoffs! That's why!

  • In reply to deewaves:

    I've been watching a lot of Boozer and Bosh the last 2 months. As much as it pains me to admit, we Bulls fans must fess up. We got the short end of the stick in the power forward free agency department.

  • In reply to RichG:

    I don't think that's a real shocker. Most Bulls fans that I know preferred Bosh. If anyone thought Boozer morphed into a better player than Bosh it was due to throwing on the homer glasses IMO.

    We'll have to accept Boozer for what he is. He does have his strengths even if he's not as great as we'd hope.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I agree Doug. We all tend to throw on those homer glasses. Bulls fans can take solace that they have a 22 year old superstar.

  • In reply to deewaves:

    It feels good to finally be posting again on the best Chicago Bulls Blog on the web. This subject has been on my mind ever since Game 1 and I would have to go with Option #3 on this one, Doug. We already know Thibs is not going to change the starting rotation given his loyalty to it during the regular season. Bogans is not coming out of the starting lineup this late in the dance.

    The only solution I see is Thibs doing a better job of knowing when to pull the quick hook on him. And when I say quick hook, I mean at the first mandatory T.V. timeout. Teams don't even respect Bogans jumpshot and are leaving him open to fire away and live with the consequences.

    At least with Ronnie Brewer, you get the disruptive force on defense and the slashing and cutting on offense. Actually, Korver could start in this series and be hidden on defense guarding the Pacers last offensive option Paul George. George's main job in Game 1 was attempting to stay in front of Derrick Rose.

    One more point and I'm done. It just seems weird that the Pacers are able to put a small PG in Darren Collison on any of our starting 2 guards and not get burned in the post or on the glass for it. Not saying it's going to burn us in this series, but its a problem when none of the 2 guards in your rotation are able to take advantage of that matchup.

    Can't wait for Game 2. GO BULLS!!!

  • In reply to deewaves:

    Bogans hit 42% of his 3s in the last 61 games of the season. "If he can't start knocking down threes" implies he's bricking too many threes. The guy had a 58% eFG% over that same span. Defenses aren't covering him, not because he bricks a percentage that makes his shots a liability, but because people don't give him the ball.

  • In reply to LittleAlex:

    Defenses don't cover him because they're more scared of everyone else on the court than Bogans. They leave him wide open every single play. They pretend he's not there, and they don't even run out on him that hard on the open pass either.

    Though certainly my sentence was referring to his 0-3 performance against the Pacers.

  • In reply to deewaves:

    What do you guys think about Butler....should he get minutes?

  • In reply to BekimKukiqi:

    I don't think so. Not because he isn't good but because he has spent a lot of times without playing an nba game. I don't think he is going to back at his level during a playoff game. It would hurt the team. It's too late now, thibs should have made him play before.

  • In reply to deewaves:

    IMO, Coach Thibs did a great job during the regular season and I wouldn't change (right now) the starting five, give Bogans just less minutes and it's ok!

  • In reply to BekimKukiqi:

    So he will just play 4 min of the first and the third ? I'd rather start somebody else instead of him.

  • In reply to BekimKukiqi:

    San antonio has just lost !
    i love this game : where amazing happens. Playoffs is another monster baby !!

  • In reply to deewaves:

    Which of Rose or CJ defends the 6-8 George...that's the problem with starting CJ at SG in this series.

  • In reply to Nossem:

    I get your point. But it's still better than Bogans or brewer who can't space the floor.

  • In reply to deewaves:

    It's only better on offense, so it's only half better...except that it's way worse on defense, so I'm not sure what it is.

    Lots of fans have said that they want to see more of the Rose-Watson combo, but that pretty much forces Rose to defend the SG. Against most offenses, this subjects Rose to more pick-hits. As a change-up thing, I'm fine with it, but not as a steady thing.

  • In reply to deewaves:

    I think this fixation on Bogans is pointless. Bottom line: Thibs isn't going to change the rotation significantly.

    Time after time you see quotes from him saying that the regular season is about building the right habits, day in and day out, so when you get to the playoffs you don't have to change anything. Paxson has said that Thibs has a very clear view of what he thinks works, and sticks to it. Period. You may disagree, but he's not going to deviate from his basketball principles.

    At the beginning of the season, people were screaming for Bogans' head, but Thibs got rather short and impatient with those criticisms, and stuck with him anyway. What makes you think he'll change now? What Thibs wants out of him is defense and toughness. That's his role. He's also a sort of defensive coach on the court. Is he ideal? No, of course not. I think privately Thibs would admit that. But he's also said that defense and the other aspects of the game are a team effort. That it doesn't fall just on one person, but as a unit. That's his basketball philosophy, so singling out Bogans doesn't hold water according to Thibs.

    With all that said, will Bogans' minutes diminish or vary in the playoffs? I think they might. Thibs will look at matchups and how the game unfolds, and then make adjustments. But wishing he'd change the starting lineup is just that--wishful thinking.

  • In reply to zentastic:

    Certainly I think we all agree that it's not going to happen.

  • In reply to Nossem:

    Maybe you figure, "Hey Paul George isn't really good, we're a lot better off if the Pacers try to run him a ton of possessions in order to capitalize on a matchup rather than getting the ball into their best players".

    George isn't much of a shooter and certainly isn't an elite ball handler, I think he'd struggle trying to take a PG off the dribble, due to PGs generally having quick hands to take the ball.

    I would think George would likely be effective in the post, but I'd love the Pacers to shift their entire offensive game plan to trying to post up Paul George rather than what's been working for them on offense.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    well said. i agree with u !

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Awful lot of analysis about what Thibs should be doing in the playoffs based on one game. The Bulls biggest problem was defensive rotation and it was a team thing.

    Guys were going under screens and giving up open jumpers. They did a bad job of running the Pacers' bigs off of those mid range shots, shots they've shown they can hit...against the Bulls at least.

    Thibs made all of the 2nd guessers (me included during the 1st couple weeks of the regular season) look silly for 2nd guessing him all season. Why start again after one playoff game?

  • In reply to magestew:

    Then again, I guess you could ask "Why not 2nd guess him?" The superstitious side of me is saying maybe that's been good luck for us!

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    lakers spurs and magic go down 0-1 who do u think come back and win there series

  • In reply to jaymccray:

    I still think the only potential 1st rounder upsets are Boston and Mavericks.

  • In reply to jaymccray:

    I get the shortening your bench rotation thing.. But I think Bogans is the only guy you can even argue cutting out. I've been pretty entertained by people who have said the Bulls bench will be much less affective in the postseason as other teams will shorten their bench. The problem with that theory is that each of the Bulls backups, with the exception of CJ Watson, bring some sort of upgrade to the floor. The Bulls bench isn't a second unit that represents a downgrade at every position. Taj is a better defender than Boozer, Ronnie and Kyle each bring significant upgrades to Bogans, Asik and Kurt Thomas both bring useful defensive looks with Asik having a size advantage over Noah, and Thomas having a shooting advantage and bball IQ advantage as well. CJ Watson may not bring any upgrade over Rose, but he does have shot creation ability. My point is, what John Hollinger, and others don't realize, is that the Bulls don't bring in a significantly weaker lineup(vs the starters) they simply bring in a DIFFERENT lineup. I do understand that other teams wont play their bench as much which means all our players will face less 2nd team defenders, but can't the same be said for our team? Rose Deng Noah will all see more action. I don't see our bench as a depleted weapon in the playoffs, I see it as a strong tool which when wielded correctly, is a definite advantage.

  • In reply to jgingeri:

    Great points Chicagosportsguru I totally agree the 2nd unit isn't worse but different and while we didn't like the "hockey" style 2nd unit subbing they work well together, even if Bogans is the starting SG at near Vet minimum!

  • In reply to jaymccray:

    Have you seen how often Thibs is talking intensely - NOT yelling - with Bogans during fould shot timeouts, etc... he really likes Bogans on-floor coaching. And just wait till we face Wade or Ray Allen or JJ Reddick (or Kobe or Manu etc), you sure don't want Korver starting the game on them! Bogans needs somewhat shorter minutes and to damn well KNOCK DOWN the open shots he gets - and so does everyone else on the team, btw, if we're going much deeper into this series.

    What a weird first weekend of playoffs, btw, with miracle shots to beat Spurs and save Celtics, Aaron Gray's career high to help Hornets beat Lakers, 76rs scaring the shyte out of Miami, and Magic unimpressive. Apparently our Bulls weren't the only team to meet a furious underdog! Maybe it's the full moon...

  • In reply to deewaves:

    IT's tough to start both PGs because then when you want to sub Rose, Watson's already been out there.

    You could do it if you subbed him out at 6 minutes then subbed him back in at the 2nd quarter or something like that though.

    I'd probably go with Brewer or Korver ahead of that though.

  • In reply to pinkizdead:

    I think that you're overreacting to one scary, but ultimately successful game. I also think you're giving Bogans way too much "credit" for dragging the team down. Bogans did his defensive job against the Pacers and was part of the reason George got in early foul trouble. He also grabbed 3 rebounds. Offensively, he missed all 3 of his shots. Shoulda made at least one. In a game where the Bulls had too many turnover, Bogans had none.

    This said, I'd also like to see Thibs shorten his rotation and give some of Bogans' minutes to Brewer. You can't have Korver on George though. That would be ugly.

  • In reply to Nossem:

    I'm certainly not overreacting to one game. I've written probably a dozen bench Bogans pieces this year.

    This one game is a continuation of a year long story line where Bogans has frustrated fans with ineffectual play.

    Now, you could argue that Bogans brings a steadying hand to the game or that he was needed for depth, that he is doign something that's not really showing up in the scoreboard, advanced stats, plus/minus, or the eye test (all of which go against him), and given that Tom Thibodeau knows a crapload more about basketball than I do and guided the team to 62 wins, I won't discount that theory.

    However, it's certainly not an over-reaction to bring up the same point I've been bringing up over and over all year round when I feel it considerably hurt us and could have cost us a playoff game.

  • In a seriousness, get bogans down to 10 minutes a game. Increase brewer, korver, and watson's minutes. Take it a team by team basis. Against indiana, are we really worried about brandon rush and paul george? we could afford to play korver a bit more against indy. Against the magic, we might have to play brewer against j-rich and cj against arenas/reddick. Against miami, we could finally unleash the beast, bogans. He helped contain wade this year.

  • In reply to pinkizdead:

    Don't count out the 6'7" athletic SG George, he was limited in this one with early foul trouble, he could be an xfactor the rest of the way

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    6'9" with shoes actually

Leave a comment