Have we overreacted to the ouster of the bench mob?

Most of the angst over this season has come due to the loss of the bench mob. However, I have to ask, have we simply become overly attached to a group of players who were good guys with good chemistry? Is it really that difficult to think the new bench mob couldn't play a similar role to the old one?

Shooter role
Kyle Korver career PER: 12.8, Bulls PER: 13, 13.5: Korver played well for Chicago, he had high quality looks frequently and wasn't counted on to do too much.

Marco Belinelli career PER: 11.9, Last 2: 12.1, 11.9: Belinelli seems likely to get a Korver-esque bump to his stats in Chicago as he's going to a team that should create better looks for him. He's also a younger player who's still got some room to grow his game.

Belinelli brings more athleticism, ball handling and shot creating while Korver was the better pure shooter and the higher IQ player. That said, Belinelli won't struggle as much as people expect defensively with quality teammates, a good system, and a demanding coach and his strengths better fit the Bulls needs.

Backup PG Guard

C.J. Watson: career PER: 13.5, Bulls PER 12.8, 13.3: Watson struggled to put up the same numbers in a disciplined Bulls system that he was able to do in a wide open Golden State offense.

Kirk Hinrich: career PER: 13.8, Last 2 PER 12.3, 9.8: Bulls fans have a good feel for Kirk one way or the other as we've seen him plenty. As I discussed , Kirk Hinrich's last season with Atlanta wasn't nearly so bad as you think. If you remove the period where he was still getting back on track due to shoulder surgery, he probably had around a 13-14 PER last season with the Hawks in the final 2/3rds of the season.

I've ridden the C.J. Watson bandwagon pretty hard as well as being critical of Kirk Hinrich. However, much of that time Hinrich was making three times the salary. Dropping salary from the picture, it's easy to see why you could go either way. C.J.'s got better scoring numbers, but when you need someone to lead the team Hinrich's a better fit at running the offense.

Emergency guard

John Lucas career PER: 14, Bulls PER 16.3: With Lucas you just sit and wonder if what he did was sustainable for any stretch of time. He did have a -.1 as his Bulls PER for 10/11, but we'll throw that out since he barely played. I personally don't trust Lucas to have another season remotely like what he did last season, as even as he was going through it, it felt more lucky than good.

Nate Robinson career PER: 15.6: Last 2: 10, 18: Nate Robinson plays a similar role as a no-conscience, ball dominating, shot chucking, undersized guard, but he's done it on a number of teams for many years rather than just one year. He's faster, more athletic and unlike Lucas, his PER wasn't earned over 15 minutes a game for 49 games.

In the end, Nate Robinson is simply a better, more proven version of John Lucas.

Defensive wing

Ronnie Brewer: career PER 14.9, Bulls PER 13.8, 12.3: Brewer was never able to find the plethora of easy looks that gave him a high TS% in Utah. He was sub 50% last season for Chicago which is fairly awful.

Jimmy Butler: career/season PER 12.5: Butler actually slightly outproduced Brewer last season while playing in a similar role on the same team. While it was one of Brewer's worst seasons, there's every reason to believe that Butler is going to improve with more time. I'm not the driver of the Butler bandwagon, but he certainly showed signs of performing as a solid Brewer replacement.

Both players played outstanding defense, both players struggle on offense. Brewer is far more proven defensively though, and he's played quality offense before, even if not here. On the other hand, if Butler spent the whole off-season shooting jumpers, he could come in and give the Bulls more of what they need on offense than Brewer while giving them the same defensive presence.

Brewer's certainly the safer play, but Butler might be better in both the short and long run if he comes back with notable improvements to his game.

4th Big man

Omer Asik: career PER 12.6, Bulls PER 11.8, 13.4
Nazr Mohammed: career PER 15.6 last 2 PER 15.9, 11

You can kind of throw out PERs here, because Asik is more than his PER and Mohammed is at an age where production could trivially drop off a cliff and did exactly that last season. That said, the majority of the slack taken up here will be by the Bulls first three big men playing more minutes rather than by Mohammed coming in and needing to match Asik's production.

The Bulls lose depth and size defensively, but they gain a guy who wouldn't likely gack both free throws and can catch/dunk and even hit a shot now and then. Team's can't completely abandon Mohammed like they could Asik, but it's still obviously a big hit.

With the Bulls losing Asik, I expect we may have seen the end of the hockey style full team substitutions and will largely see a 3.5 man rotation for the PF/C spots with some small ball mixed in for good measure.

Thoughts

Looking at this cast relative to the old cast, I don't think there's much reason to think this bench mob can't do exactly what the old one did. In terms of career PER, they stack up fairly evenly. I don't think we're losing out all that much on talent. The last group had an unbelievable amount of chemistry and trust, so the question is simply whether or not this group can do the same thing.

However, in terms of skills (both tangible and intangible), this group seems to be of a similar caliber. The one exception is with Omer vs Mohammed, but a lot of that depends on how much you believed in Omer's defense impact [really good] vs his offensive impact [really bad] and how much his role is simply given to the players ahead of him in the lineup anyway rather than to Mohammed.

If six of his 15 minutes a game go to one of the better big men on the team and only nine go to Mohammed, then the Bulls might come out considerably ahead. They obviously have greater risk due to injury without the depth, but I'm not sure a healthy Bulls team has really lost much here.

All in all, I think we may be overreacting a bit in our angst over the loss of the bench mob. This new group will need to prove itself, but they have the potential to do just that.

Filed under: Free Agency

Tags: bench mob, chicago bulls, nba

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  • I'll believe you actually believe this when you stop talking about the 7th seed and start talking about the 2nd. Because without Rose last year, the Bulls played at 55 win pace, which should be good for the second seed. If this mob are as good as the bench mob, why are you expecting the win total to plummet?

  • In reply to Shakes:

    Probably because every other contender just made positive moves, adding significant pieces. While we are left with the great Korver/Bellineli debate as we wait with bated breath for the 2014 Plan of Mystery.

  • I think a lot of this falls on the PG. We know the Bulls offense runs through the PG, and while Kirk may have some good basketball left in the tank, I just don't see him as the primary shot creator in this offense. I'd rather have CJ then Kirk do that. Plus, would it have been possible to renegotiate CJ's contract, he only signed for the vet minimum. He's a decent player, but the league remembers the pass to Omer in the playoffs. Could have been much cheaper and not had to deal with the 2nd year (like in Kirk's contract).

  • I think most of the angst is from the fact that after being a real title contender for two seasons and facing their best player being out for the next one, the Bulls decided to merely shuffle the bench with the hopes of maybe not getting too much worse (in a most optimistic view), as opposed to trying to get better and stuff.

    Also, Kirk Hinrich.

  • The Bulls kind of remind me of the Chicago Bears situation, where everyone is talking offense at first when they should be talking defense. The Bears do not pressure the quarterback and the secondary/saftey play kind of sucks. Well, the Bulls in order to be a playoff team need to still be able to defend and rebound. The big loss to me is Omer Asik and the Bulls didn't even remotely answer that question. If they can still play great team defense and outrebound opponents, they probably can secure a low seed(6-8).

  • The issue is not that this bench mob is going to be so much worse than the last bench mob. The issue is that the Bulls let multiple assets walk for nothing. Most of the Bulls competitors used exceptions or took on salary to make themselves a little or a lot better. The Bulls had multiple ways to join the arms race now by taking on salary and decent players, or in the future by taking on salary and stocking up on draft picks or prospects. The Bulls organization has chosen to stay maximally profitable over the next couple of years, and subsequently will be left behind by teams who are already better that continue to add to their rosters.

  • So while all the other top seeds are loading up for title runs we are suppose to feel okay with being almost as good as last year at most the bench spots and substantially worse in the prized front court depth? Nazr is a massive downgrade in both talent and height.

    Simply put this "slight" overall downgrade has taken us completely out of fringe contender status for the foreseeable future with no plan to get back in the hunt. The team has no plans for the future which has become glaringly obvious this summer. They neither committed to retooling for when Rose is 100% nor went all in to try and win now. They did a half ass job of trying to be as good while everyone else barring a miracle Mavericks like run the Bulls aren't serious threats anymore and will be hard pressed just to get to the ECF.

    I am mostly disappointed in the lack of vision, creativity and direction that the front office brings. Not to mention their personnel choices don't seem to mesh with the style of ball that they play. Seems like there is a disconnect between coach and front office in terms of philosophy (player roles) assuming the front office even has a philosophy other than loading up on hard working over achievers with a general lack of offensive skills.

  • Just answering the question from the post title, I think that there has definitely been an overreaction. Ultimately, the only criticism of this bench vs its predecessor is the team's ability to sustain any kind of long-term injury to a big. Noah, Boozer and extended minutes at the 4 and 5 for Taj will mitigate the loss of Omer as long as they stay relatively healthy.

    Kirk is an upgrade from CJ. Debate the contract all you want. Kirk can do more than CJ and should be very solid in the pick and roll with Boozer. Butler and Brewer are a wash. Marco isn't the assassin that Korver was, but he should be able to create more and strike in different ways. Nate Robinson is a significant upgrade from JL3.

    Barring significant additional injury (including the potential of Deng being ineffective due to the wrist), they should be at or better than 500 when Rose comes back, probably in January or early February by the looks of his progress. Then, I'd give them a fair shot of working their way as high as the 3 seed. Higher if Boston succumbs to rampant oldness.

  • To answer the question, yes there is an overreaction. I just wished the Bulls had obtained something (draft pick(s)) for Asik rather than just letting him go. And some of the Bulls' better play last year without DRose had to do with a shortened season and the hope that Rose was coming back in a day, week, or so. Also, they just played great defense which kept them in a lot of games against mediocre teams last year in a shortened season with a lot of back to back to back games where defense prevailed.

    That the defense alone will prevail in a number of games is not the key thought for this year with DRose expected to be out a substantial time and no shortened strike schedule. Also, other teams such as Philly (Andrew Bynum), Miami (Ray Allen), New Jersey (Joe Johnson), and Boston (Jason Terry and getting Jeff Green and Avery Bradley back) have improved while the Bulls have probably just stayed pat.

    I could still see the Bulls competing with Indiana and Philadelphia for a 3 seed and even a 2 seed with Boston. I think all those teams will be grouped together with the Bulls in the standings and Miami at the 1 seed. The Knicks and Nets and Atlanta should be right behind. So to have that accomplishment (anywhere from a 2 to 5 seed) with DRose out a substantial time and some new parts needing to be integrated, I think that is a decent result with the bench mob or with the new bench.

  • They simply don't have the offense to keep pace with the Sixers, Pacers and Celtics while Rose is out. Frankly they won't keep up with Nets or Knicks either. Why because Rose is out and Loul is clearly not as effective no matter what he says with his torn wrist ligaments. 35% shooting in the Olympics while a small sample size isn't far from what he was doing with the Bulls the second half. I don't see how they can keep pace with teams that will be far supperior talent wise to a team essentially minus its top two players.

    There is simply too much riding on the health of RIP Hamilton and the three big men in the front court to stay healthy for my taste. If I am betting I am going against the health of both RIP and the front court as history shows both to be highly unlikely to stay away from significant injury. IMO RIP is the key to this season. If he stays healthy he adds a big piece offensively to a team devoid of offensive intiators. If he goes down for a large chunk of games early in the year I think the team collapses.

  • Looking at players strictly as numbers and interchangable parts in regards to winning is unrealistic. That good chemistry with an all new group is hardly guaranteed. If Deng is healthy and goes back to a solid field goal percentage that makes a big difference. A guy scoring 18ppg on 46% is quality. A guy scoring 17-18ppg on 40% is quite a downgrade. Is he 'healed,' or will he deteriorate as the season progresses? That will be big.

    The fact that a lot of the guys will feel like their teammates were dumped by a cheap franchise, and they see no assetts coming in could have a real effect. And so many new faces meshing with no Derrick in sight. Seeing all their competitors upgrading while they stand pat at best and stay on the cheap.

    I think Doug is 'staying positive' because this is the only ball game in town, but I think it's fair to say that dumping players for cheaper contracts and availing themselves of none of the avilable talent available in a deep draft, free agency etc.(Boozer amnesty) will in the end bite the Bulls in the rear.

    Derrick guranteed is not happy with this mass dumping of his teammates and thinking otherwise is just ridiculous. Doug said as much himself. Setting the tone for his team's mindset, likely other Bulls will feel the same. In all honesty, the Bulls F.O and Jerry the greed baron, buzz kill deserve to fall flat on their faces this season. That's where knowing they are too inept and and passive means no effective tank job will occur which unfortunately would have been opportune last year or this summer's draft.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    That is last year's draft crop happening this coming summer of 2013, not tanking this past year obviously.

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