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?
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.
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.
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.
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.