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.
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.