Throw Rip Hamilton from the train

Throw Rip Hamilton from the train

So the Spurs game was fun for about a half when the Bulls offense somehow found it's rhythm behind the three point line, but the Spurs adjusted, Chicago slumped, and it ended in a rout. One thing became crystal clear from the game though, we need to throw Rip Hamilton from the train, hope he stays hurt, tell him to stay at home, or whatever else it takes to force Tom Thibodeau to start Marco Belinelli.

Why is Marco Belinelli better as a starter? The world may never know. However, much like Nate Robinson immediately stinks as a starter but works well as a spark plug, Belinelli turns to crap as a reserve while he plays excellently as a starter. We've now seen this pattern repeat both times Rip Hamilton has been out with injury, and the team overall has played much better while that's been the case.

Statistically, it shouldn't be so. Hamilton has put up better numbers (marginally) than Belinelli on the season. Neither one gives you a supreme defensive effort as both try but are limited in what they can do. It would seem like Hamilton would be the best option except that he's not, and a big reason why is that Marco's season numbers don't do justice to what he's been able to do when inserted into the starting lineup.

The biggest difference is in the three point shooting. With big minutes, Marco seems to find a comfort zone from beyond the arc and knocks down a very high percentage of his three point shots. With lesser minutes his shooting is frequently off. Maybe he's simply not a guy who can get into a rhythm quickly off the bench and needs to have some time on the floor to get his feel. Maybe he needs the comfort of knowing no one's looking over his shoulder.

Probably not good traits for a guy making two million a year because he's unlikely to ever consistently get huge minutes or live without the threat of a replacement. Belinelli simply isn't good enough to walk onto a team and hold the starting spot. However, he is good enough as a starter where that should be his situation here because the Bulls won't start Butler and starting Belinelli kicks Rip Hamilton's ass.

Duncan got the last laugh but...

It was still fun watching Joakim Noah get in Tim Duncan's head and play some pretty amazing defense on him at stretches during the game. Duncan looked incredibly frustrated by Noah's defense and struggled significantly during most of the minutes that Jo guarded him. Even though Duncan had the vastly superior game overall, it was fun to watch Noah being Noah against one of the all time greats even if he is at the end of his career.

In the end, the game ended up fairly similarly to what you'd expect with the Bulls playing the Spurs while missing half their lineup. It ended in a loss that wasn't too pretty. The Bulls kept pace through three quarters, but when the Spurs opened up the fourth with consecutive three pointers Chicago had no answer and never got the game within reach again.


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  • I'm sure the Bulls will keep RIP inthe starting line up even tho Marco deserves to be Starr on the regular. I turned from the game once the Spurs went up by ten the first few minutes of the 4th cause I new that was it for the Bulls. Manu killed the Bulls off the bench getting to the basket with ease and the Spurs perimeter guys barely missed at all. Back to Rip, I'm sure the Bulls are holding out til the playoffs but I agree that he needs to be held out permanently. And hopefully bulls fans won't lose their minds cause Rose wasn't on the bench, I could be wrong tho, I know I didn't see him there.

  • I turned once the spurs were up 10 to begin the quarter. In the first half of the season the bulls would be able to beat a good team, and struggle against the weaker teams. That's turned around you don't even have hope going into these games against upper crust teams anymore. So bulls most likely win Friday and lose Sunday. 101-83.. Perspective: out scored 66-37 from the middle of the second quarter. Can't win many games like that

  • Any one else have fun watching Noah being Noah as the Bulls got destroyed...I guess we missed hiny's scrappy defense again...hee haw.

  • In reply to 4zen:

    Well at the time Noah was frustrating the hell out of Duncan the Bulls were winning, so it wasn't watching the Bulls get destroyed.

  • Michael Jordan was in a West Palm Beach courthouse this morning with his girlfriend to apply for a marriage license.

  • Be careful, because it sounds like you are making the BG "you've got to play him 40 minutes to make sure you get the 5 good minutes" argument. I think it has more to do with how many plays get called for Bellinelli and whether or not Nate actually runs the play more than whether or not Belli starts. Although when he starts, Nate is more likely to actually run the play at the beginning of games. The bulls spit the bit last night when Nate thought he was hot and took a few quick threes at the end of the third.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    I don't want to bring back Belinelli as the starting 2 guard, however, if we can get 5-10 good minutes out of Belinelli by starting him then it's better than getting zero good minutes out of the combination of Beli/Rip by not starting him.

    I do agree that Nate runs the plays more as a starter than a reserve. He hasn't played as a starter overall though and has struggled considerably more with his shooting.

  • Well said, Doug. I've been noticing all season how much better Belli is as a starter; and even if it makes Rip play worse off the bench, it's not like he's lit it up starting. It's way past time to switch their roles, at least for four or five games, to see how the team benefits.

    I don't suppose there's any point in pointing out that the same is just as true in the forwards, Taj plays MUCH better as a starter, and gets more confidence in both his jump shot AND his rapid-fire post moves. We miss him so much, there was no way Boozer and Noah could protect the paint and the rim last night, and all those easy dunks from Splitter would have been more challenging with Taj helping Joah...

  • In reply to petert23:

    It would be interesting to see how the Bulls would do with Rip/Boozer coming in off the bench where they could have a better opportunity to bum slay against weaker players.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I would love to see both of them relegated to the second unit, but with Thibs it is just never going to happen. With Butler we probably don't even need Brick at all, certainly after Rose gets back he will become utterly useless.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Which brick do we not need Hinbrick or Brick Hamilton?

  • peter23, it's a shame really that some stuff that is so blatantly obvious just doesn't seem to make any sense for Thibs. I could see Rip starting to show what he's left in the tank before the trade-deadline, but now... no way, just start Beli already. Same for Taj, he is so much better starting the games, we should just change up, let Rip and Booz feast on lesser competition.

  • In reply to rodman:

    Yeah, rodman, if Booze and Rip would get over their so-called pride, they could both help the team AND pad their stats against sub-standard players... sigh... yet I gotta say, I'm not taking on the rest of the job! Three-time COTY candidate trumps us... Maybe he'll learn? Maybe he'll get better back-ups he trusts? Maybe pigs wearing championship rings will fly out of Reinsdorf's butt!

  • In reply to rodman:

    I doubt that they would feast on anybody, but they might suck a little less, neither one is going to start playing world class D.

  • Bulls are struggling mightily without Kirk and taj. I can't help but think where this bulls team would be if all things were equal and they were hampered with injuries. At 7 games over right now I think they'd easily be 11/12. Am I wrong? Isn't 12 the high water mark for them this season? And also if I'm not wrong they had at least beat newyork twice and Miami, so they weren't just bum slayers. It's just frustrating to watch them struggle so bad when we know they're capable of so much more. Indiana isn't head and shoulders better than the bulls.. They just haven't suffered any real injuries, they've played better without granger if you ask me. It's obvious that this years bench is a major drop off from last year. Im seriously not kidding when I say I know guys at lifetime fitness in Schaumburg that could do better than Muhammad and vlad rad. No lie.. That's two bodies you can't even use. Hopefully kirk can come back and stay healthy down the stretch.. Same with taj. Or else it's back to back first round exits for Thibs

  • In reply to StephanH:

    It's probably a first-round exit regardless at this point, unless Rose comes back and plays to at least 90% his level, which looks less likely with each passing day. It was kind of a lost season to begin with which is in part why I've been unable to understand why everyone's so angry all the time. There's nothing the Bulls could have done to beat the Heat this year. Nothing.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    I think the Bulls will have a shot in the first round if they are the 4/5 team even if Rose doesn't play. The Hawks/Nets both have considerable flaws as well.

    They would at least need Hinrich/Taj back though, and there's obviously no guarantees.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I think the bulls best shot might be if they finish at the 6 spot. Indiana and New York are beatable (if Rose is back). They would then avoid Labron until the Confrense Finals. I think the Bulls own the Hawks, Nets, and even the Knicks in a playoff series.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I agree, even without Rose, but with a healthy Hinrich and Taj, I think that Bulls can(i.e, are capable, not will) beat everybody but the Heat and the Pacers, with the Knicks and Celtics(4-5 matchup) being the 2 toughest outs.

    I am certain that they cannot beat the Heat, and I highly doubt that they can beat the Pacers even with this seasons version of Rose.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    The Pacers would be interesting. At times they're really good, but at times they struggle just like the Bulls on offense. If we got a moderate version of Rose back I think we could beat them.

  • In reply to StephanH:

    I agree that it's going to be tough for the Bulls to make much hay with the roster as it is. Missing Rose is tough. Missing Rose, Hinrich, Taj, and Rip is really, really tough.

  • I wouldn't mind if Marco came back as the starter next season. I know he's not the best, but when you look at what is available he might be the better option for now.

  • In reply to PaBullfan:

    As I;ve already pointed out, the Bulls will only have their #1 pick, the mini MLE and Korvers trade exception(for a window of about 7 days in July). It could very well take the entire mini MLE to retain Belli(3 years @ $9 plus million is the max). All that money will be enhanced tax money, meaning a total cost of $8.25 to $9 million to the Bulls.

    I would love to see the Bulls use the Korver exception, but that will all be tax money too, so it is just not happening under this regime.

    In any event, we only get to buy one "new" guy, either Belli or another free agent. I could live with Belli at that money. It certainly should be the minimum starting point for the Bulls offseason.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    You'd like to see someone better than Belinelli, but that's not likely to happen with the MMLE.

    I agree that the Bulls are unlikely to use the exception, which means you're likely bringing in one 3 million dollar player, your draft pick, and minimum salary guys. It likely isn't that big a deal with a healthy Rose though. You should be able to cover PG-SF with five guys.

    Rose, Hinrich, Deng, and Butler are already on the roster and are quality players. Teague, with some hopeful off-season improvement, would be fine as the emergency backup, and then you're looking for one more guy to slot in there to play some minutes.

    If that guy is Belinelli, I'm okay with that. I'd bet you could get him for 2 years 4 million. The other option is another draft pick.

    I think the real problem is in the front court. You've got three guys, and you really need one more guy up there, and I'm not sure where you get that guy. The guys available for 3 million pretty much would suck balls, but you're also unlikely to be able to expect much with a draft pick in the 20s though I've heard this draft is deep with role player talent and just shallow in stars, so maybe a pick in the low 20s gets you a serviceable 4th big.

  • doug, i understand that this is your blog and it is your voice and content but you really need to maintain some consistency in your opinions. how many posts did you mention that you would be so pissed if the front office got rid of rip. 2, 3, 4 posts? at least.

    now you're saying that rip should be tossed. make up your mind.

  • In reply to ssl5b:

    To be truly accurate, what I really want is to keep Rip and bring him off the bench. Throwing him from the train was just a bit of exaggeration to say it's important to me that Belinelli starts because he plays much better in that role, and I don't think Thibodeau will bring Rip off the bench.

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