Can bench mob 3.0 come through?

The Bulls had an amazing turnaround in 2010. After two years of .500 records with head coach Vinny Del Negro, the Bulls launched themselves into the realm of elite teams behind Tom Thibodeau. Derrick Rose's ascension was the primary reason why, but the bench mob played a crucial role in the team's improvement.

In the summer of 2012, the bench mob was largely disassembled to the dismay of many Bulls fans. Asik left in free agency, Kyle Korver was traded to lower our tax burden, and Watson/Brewer had their non guaranteed contracts waived. We could never get such good players on the bench again screamed the fans.

Until Nate Robinson came in and stole our hearts with his scoring, creation, and big plays. Marco Belinelli was a bit uneven, but it didn't stop him from some big games and contributing three buzzer beaters in the season. Jimmy Butler played excellently taking over for Ronnie Brewer and by the end of the season was the starter rather than part of Mob 2.0.

The rest of the bench? Kind of a flop.

However, it was enough to feel good about bench mob 2.0 even if the same depth wasn't there.

Enter bench mob 3.0.

Gone are Nate Robinson, Marco Belinelli, and Vladamir Radmanovic, back is the mostly ineffective Nazr Mohammed. Jimmy Butler gets promoted to the starting lineup while Derrick Rose's return pushes Kirk Hinrich from the starters to the bench. Taj Gibson will still be there, the only guy who's been a part of bench mob 1.0 through 3.0.

The Bulls added Mike Dunleavy Jr, Tony Snell, and Erik Murphy to the roster. They've got at least one spot earmarked for another big man, and they've got Marquis Teague in their back pocket who didn't play much as a rookie but might capture a role this season.

If we assume that Taj and Nazr can replicate last years performances, then the Bulls are really looking to replace the productivity of Nate Robinson, Marco Belinelli, and Rip Hamilton who started a bunch of games but was more of a bench type.

Belinelli and Hamilton were both uneven and struggled for much of the season and really shouldn't be difficult to replace. Jimmy Butler will clearly play more minutes to take over much of the burden on the SG rotation and Dunleavy Jr should improve on their performance as a wing player.

It basically comes down to can someone replace Nate Robinson. There's really no candidate to do so. When Derrick Rose leaves the floor there's no one left to create shots for the team.

Bench mob 1.0 had C.J. Watson. For whatever flaws Watson had, he could get you some volume scoring on volume shot taking. He wasn't efficient, but he could at least create a mediocre shot off the dribble.

Nate Robinson improved on that and gave us a fairly deadly spark plug off the bench.

This bench mob could look to Teague to take on that role and perhaps he could. Teague can't shoot threes like Robinson or Watson, but he can get to the basket. If he shows he can do it consistently, maybe he could help run the offense.

However, most likely the Bulls will shift the mentality behind the bench mob. Gone will be the days of the bench mob looking at a guy to take lots of shots and just hold the fort down until Derrick Rose gets back in. Now the bench will look to run a more cohesive offense. That's what Kirk Hinrich and Mike Dunleavy Jr will be better at.

Assume a typical bench unit looks something like this:

PG: Hinrich
Wing1: Dunleavy
Wing2: Butler or Deng
Big1: Gibson
Big2: Boozer, Noah, or Nazr

The Bulls won't have the shot creation punch as with Robinson, but Dunleavy gives them more shooting than Belinelli did, Butler/Deng are both solid players, and Taj Gibson may now play the most minutes of his career with a PG that looks to get him good shots instead of jack up threes.

When one of Boozer/Noah are in with this unit, it's still very formidable, and they'll probably only lean on Nazr to fill in during the second quarters, injury situations, and fourth quarters that aren't all that close.

It will be a change in the way the bench mob operates. Instead of a junk offense creator leading the unit, the Bulls will move towards a unit that will need to thrive on team play and execution.

One of the difficulties of such a move is that the bench has to constantly shuffle pieces whereas the starting unit can more easily develop chemistry together.

Still, Kirk Hinrich looked good for Carlos Boozer's game to me. I'm curious to see if Taj Gibson has his best season playing along side Hinrich rather than Robinson/Watson.

As somewhat of a hybrid of the two, Dunleavy gives us much better shooting than Belinelli and much better ball handling than Korver.

This unit has potential. Beyond the primary guys, Teague, Snell, and Murphy will all have a shot to prove they can fill in valuable niches.

I noted earlier that the starting lineup was the best the Bulls have had in the Derrick Rose era. This bench doesn't look like the best bench they've had on the surface, but I'd grade it higher than last year's unit in preseason.

In short, with stronger starters, I expect this bench to do enough to get the job done. The more I look at this roster, see the pieces fitting together, and look at the bigger picture, the more I think we have the best team around Derrick since he's gotten here. The biggest question is whether Derrick can return to an MVP level or not.

Filed under: Players

Tags: bench mob, chicago bulls, nba

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  • Great post. I agree that this should be the best team around Derrick.

    GarPax is fortunate and savvy to assemble another strong bench mob. Outside of not having an Asik-type center, this bench mob should be just as good, perhaps better if the team can stay healthy. Outside of Asik, bench mob 1.0 was just ok. Korver could shoot, but defensively was terrible. Brewer was the oppose - good defensively but team did not guard him. Watson was solid overall.

    I'm throwing down money on the Bulls to win it all in Vegas in early Oct. I strongly believe that there will be no 3-peat. It's wide open. Why not the Bulls? After looking at this team 1-9, it's deeper than ever with enhanced shooting. Butler, Hinrich, Dunleavy, Deng can hit the 3. (I think Deng will have his best year ever since the wrist will be fully healthy... but that's just my gut... Ditto for Noah.) Just get to the playoffs healthy!

  • I will always be a proponent for maximizing what we have because right now there seems to be little else on the horizon. If the Bulls try to develope a post game with Deng who has always had good size, but never displayed footwork in aback to the basket style to draw fouls or take some of the predictability out of what we do: then this offense will continue to experience difficulty.
    Who can do the same with Taj? He has been trying for the stretch 4 mentality and there's nothing wrong with that, but bread and butter time in the 4th quarter or playoffs these kinds of skills are a premium. I am personally skeptical because there's not enough balance and creativity with always drive and kick or pick and roll or the Derrick Dive.

    We have talent here we just don'tcultivate what we have. Asik began to flourish when under Mc Hale in Houston and that's the point I'm trying to state. Doug stated we are not in the market for projects and cast offs from other teams, just productive veterans for a system. Unfortunately those gambles sometimes makes all the difference. Just doing somethingdidifferent make All the difference with this team and season.

  • In reply to mummuhwalde:

    Ugly post with grammatical errors on this damn new phone. But the gist is we can't take for granted any2014 plan, going for it means we are investing in 2013 and the opportunity that it presents. I would try like hell to put my team in the best position to win as possible. .. that means making what we have BETTER.

  • This Bulls team is far from being the best team built around Rose. The 2010-11 and 2011-12 teams were the best built around him. Im still not sold on this bulls team offensive abilities. Butler Snell Dunleavy and the offensively challenged Teague are going to have to have big years to help with the Bulls scoring woes. The potential is there for this Bulls bench to have a good year, but it has to be played out on the floor. And i really wish some Bulls fans along with the media would put this bench mob name crap for the bench guys to rest before everyone is talking about a bench mob 10.0 11.0 and on and on... Two bench mobs is more than enough and it was already a corny name, but now it's getting beyond that...lets try stupid.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Yes, bench mob is getting old.

    I disagree with you about the strength of the team, however.

    You mention Butler, Snell, Dunleavy and Teague.

    First off, Hinrich started last year and will be backup PG and some SG sometimes. Pretty solid there. (assuming healthy, but he'll miss some stretch es for sure)

    Butler is the best SG the Bulls have had since Jordan, IMO. Am I forgetting anyone? He shot a ridiculous nearly 50% from 3 once he started playing a lot last year. No reason he cannot shoot around 40% and improve his all-around game further in his first full year playing big minutes.

    Dunleavy is huge and fits quite well with everyone. He's probably the best 3 pt shooter in the league that is not a one-trick-pony. (He can actually dribble, pass, and his D is not too bad given his size.)

    Teague and Snell should not play all that many minutes. Anything we get is a bonus. So, who cares if they are not ready for prime time.

    Deng did not take off last summer and his wrist should be back to normal. Deng is not a superstar and his game depends on the entire team. He's just a cog in the Bulls system and an excellent fit for Thibs. (Would love to keep him at only $6-7 mil/year, but I'm hoping Snell's D and shooting get him on the floor and makes Deng expendable moving forward...)

    So, there you have it.

    Solid bench (led by Hinrich, Dunleavy, Gibson) combined with best starting 5 due to Butler emergence. Great versatility and defense should be off the charts with Hinrich-Butler-Deng-Noah. And, I bet Rose improves his shooting and D this year given he should not have to score 25/game.

  • It's hard to assess the new bench without seeing them in some action. The bench offense will be determined on the play of Mike Dunleavy, how he looks coming off screens, shooting and passing the ball to Gibson and other players. Dunleavy will be the focal point of that offense and I think he will do great and the bench mob will fourish with his savy veteran play. Nazr is the big question mark, can he be in better basketball shape and contribute? if not the Bulls will have to play Boozer or Noah part of the time with the bench. Marquis Teague looked pretty sharp with his 3pt shooting and dribble drive during summerleague, can he earn a guard spot next to hinrich on the second unit? If so this bench outside of the Asik defensive factor, can be very good.

  • I still say people are overrating the Asik factor.

    Not that he wasn't a great defender here, he most certainly was- but even in his last season here, he only played 14.7 minutes a game.

    Noah 30.4
    Boozer 29.5
    Gibson 20.4

    Those are pretty consistent, every night minutes- Boozer played all 66 games, Noah 64 and Gibson 63 that season. Scalabrine played about 2 minutes per game when averaged out over the 66 games.

    There's no reason Noah can't play 34 minutes, Boozer 31 and Gibson 29 this season. That only leaves 2 minutes/night for Nazr, Murphy or small-ball. And as much as the Heat and lots of other teams are using SF at the PF position, the Bulls should undoubtedly be able to take advantage of either Deng at PF or Gibson taking SF who try to guard him into the low post.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    Good point. However, Asik really stepped up big in the playoffs - playing entire 4th quarters with Gibson while Noah and Boozer were on the bench. He was nice to have in the paint against Miami - eliminating easy buckets at the hoop. Would also match up well with Hibbert - and probably render him useless since Hibbert's size is his main advantage.

  • In reply to Granby:

    Lots of Bulls fans are under the impression that Asik was a big 4th-quarter player for the Bulls in the playoffs. And while I hate to be the one to ruin the "Myth Of Omer", it just simply isn't true.

    2011- In the first 8 games of the playoffs, he played more than 3:23 for the entire game only twice: he played 14:58 in Game 5 vs Indiana, but only the final 4:56 of the 4th, when the Bulls were up by 27. He played 7:10 total in Game 1 of the ATL series.

    Outside of that:
    Game 3 vs ATL, he played the first 1:24 of the 4th, then the final 3:46 when the Bulls were up by 20.
    Game 4: Played the first 4:10 of the 4th, sat the rest.
    Game 5: He actually did play the entire 4th quarter, but he was 0-0 from the field, 0-2 on FT, and had 3 reb and 1 blk. Pretty much nothing.
    Game 6: He played the first 6:37 of the 4th, then the last :50 in garbage time.
    Miami Game 1: He played the first 4:12 of the 4th, then the last 2:14 when the Bulls were up by 19.
    Game 2: Played the first 7:24 of the 4th, sat the rest.
    Game 3- DNP in the 4th (this was the game where he got hurt)
    Game 4- Played 1:53 early in the game, couldn't play cuz he was hurt

    2012:
    Game 1- Played the first 6:11 of the 4th, sat the rest
    Game 2- DNP in the 4th
    Game 3- Played the first 2:26 of the 4th, until Noah came back in and tried to play on the sprained ankle. Asik came back in with 7:59 left, and played until there were :20 left in the game. The Bulls went from and 11 point lead to 3 points behind in that 7:39
    Game 4- Even with Noah out, he played 2:13 in the 4th
    Game 5- Played the first 5:17 of the 4th, sat the rest
    Game 6- He actually played all 12:00, and had 5 pts, 4 reb and 2 blk. He hit only FGA, but went 3-6 from the FT line, including famously missing two of them in the final seconds that cost the Bulls the game.

    To me, while it was good to have Asik defend against the Heat, his complete lack of offense would hurt us more- and it's scoring that we struggle to do late in games against the Heat.

    And Hibbert never did a lot of damage against the Bulls: Last season, in 33.7 min he averaged 13.0 pts and 10.5 reb while shooting only 42.6% from the floor.

    Sure it would be awesome to have Asik as our 4th big, but his salary made that impossible. And to be honest, as a 4th big, Asik would be the greatest 4th big in NBA history.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    Wow! Are you a statistician, Don? Comprehensive analysis. Thanks.

    If the Bulls really love Asik, he can probably be had for a #1 pick and a 2nd tier player, like maybe Teague. But for his $8 million salary per season, I would rather have Dunleavy and Teague for their $4 million total.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    Thanks a lot, but not really. NBA Media Central just has a lot more intricate stats than what is accessible from the regular NBA.com (and most other free, "public" websites, for lack of a better term).

    For example, if you're looking for "Clutch" stats, 82games.com gives you: 4th quarter or overtime, less than 5 minutes left, neither team ahead by more than 5 points. That's it. On Media Central, you can narrow it down by last 5 min, 4 min, 3 min, 2 min, 1 min, 30 sec or even 10 sec. You can make it a 5pt or less, but also all the way down to 1pt or less. You can specify if the player's team was ahead OR behind by 1-5 points, or even if the game was tied.

    Anyway, I just looked at 4th quarter box scores to see how much Asik played. And it's human nature that we remember the times Asik did something great, and as time goes by it seems like he was out there 1/2 the time or more finishing games.

    In this case, even though I went looking to show that Omer played less down the stretch than what people remember, even I was surprised that he played as little as he did. I thought for sure he played more often late in playoff games than what he actually did.

    Kind of like how if you date a girl who is out of your league, when she dumps you, all you remember is all the great stuff about her (I'm sure we've all been there).

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    Well, you are correct in your analysis, most likely. In the 2011 ECF, we saw glimpses of what he could become but then he got hurt. Then, in the 2012 regular season we saw the effect that he had on a team like Miami. Too bad DRose got hurt and things never came together.

    BTW - Asik getting hurt in the 2011 ECF may be why he's not currently a Bulls backup. I'm sure that the Bulls wanted to make sure that he was fully healthy before locking up the 7 footer to a contract. So, he became unrestricted and Houston nabbed him.

    Don, as much as you say Asik was over-rated by Bulls fans, you'd have to admit that having him signed for another 2-3 years at relatively cheap money would have been huge.

  • Just think about how many Bulls could be 1st or 2nd team all-defense... Butler/Deng/Noah you would think if they stay healthy. Hinrich and Gibson probably won't get the minutes, but they could be in the running if they were to get sufficient minutes. And, I think Rose will step it up defensively since I hear he's done nothing but work on his body and his shot. He has the natural ability.

    Just think about how well SA played D against Miami. Now, just think about Chicago doing the same thing with better individual defenders AND great overall team D. Greg Oden will do nothing but clog up the middle, he will not help them offensively. LeBron will see more of what SA did in the Finals and I'm sure he's not looking forward to it since he looked pretty clueless for much of the series.

  • In reply to Granby:

    Yeah, he looked pretty clueless while he was collecting his MVP trophy.

  • In reply to Granby:

    That's a great point- the Bulls will have 3 players who have been All-Defense in the past (Noah, Deng, Hinrich), plus Butler who established himself as one of the top perimeter defenders in the league last playoffs (and the end of the regular season).

    And during his MVP season, Rose was 1 point shy of being All-Defense, and he actually received four 1st-place votes that season. If we can stay relatively healthy, we should have a dominant defense this season.

  • 1--I think this IS the best starting cast since Rose joined the Bulls.

    2--Dunleavy probably best bench player we acquired in last few years.

    3--ASIK...,now heres my take

    A---In hindsight, we should have kept him over Taj(but then we would have a back-up PF problem rather than a back-up center problem.

    Please read the following statement and DARE to disagree with me.

    Taj took a step backwards last year--------Asik took 2 steps forward.

    We paid Taj Big Extension Bucks --------Asik got more---------BUT WHOS THE BETTER BANG FOR THE BUCK.

    Two years left on Asik's contract so..,lets just see who earns their keep in Next two years.

    Taj ,we paid you..,Better Step UPPPPPPPPPP!

  • In reply to rakmessiah:

    1- I don't see how anyone can possibly argue with you- it's 3 of the 4 the same starters since Thibs got here, except for Butler instead of Bogans or Hamilton or Belinelli or Brewer is a HUGE step up.

    Rose's rookie year, instead of Boozer he had Tyrus starting at PF most of the year. Yeah.

    Gordon was the SG, but I'll take Butler over Gordon any day of the week.

    2- Yeah, I definitely think that Dunleavy is the best bench player we've acquired over the past few years.

    3- Asik vs Gibson straight up? On the same salary? Of course, Asik every day. If I'm starting a team from scratch, I take Asik over Gibson every time.

    But for our current team, in today's NBA, considering we already have Noah, I probably have to take Gibson. Only because I think Gibson can play back-up center better than Asik or Noah can play back-up PF.

    20 years ago, with Jordan/Pippen/Kerr, Asik and Noah would have been better than any PF/C combo we ever had.

  • Just one more comment... it's not just WHEN or HOW LONG Asik played, which was often determined by other factors - minutes, spacing and other offensive needs, etc. But his defensive impact was huge at key moments of game after game, regular seasons and playoffs. When needed, he blocked off all access to the rim and rebounded the ball, damn near every time. And especially well against Miami! We all remember the impact Omer had, in ways that are hard to translate into statistics.

    But that said, it was still the necessary move, given the make-up of the team, then and now... he's gonna start somewhere, soon, for sure. He's not coming back to back up Noah again soon... sigh...

  • In reply to petert23:

    Asik had some big moments for us, no doubt.

    It's going to be very interesting to see what the Rockets can get for him in a trade. I have a feeling they are going to have to take something below Omer's actual value, because they have Howard now and the entire league knows they need to trade Omer because they can't possibly play the two of them together.

  • So glad to hear a few people mention how badly we overrate Asik. Idiots look at stats alone and say outrageous things but they need to think about SITUATION. on Hou, he's their only big man, he has all the minutes he wants, they just jack 3s and he's alone trying to rebound. In Chi, he'd never be a starter, couldn't get minutes. I watched him all last year. He still can't catch, dribble, do anything on offense. He's a below average starting center, but Hou was a better SITUATION for him so his stats improved. He didn't.

  • In reply to retrodman:

    Houston proved your point already- they went out and sign Howard to replace him, so how good could he actually be?

    They are paying Howard twice what Asik makes, does that mean they think Howard is twice as good as Asik? Not necessarily, but if they think Asik is so great, why didn't they spend that max cap space to fill another position?

    They have Harden at SG, and I guess Chandler Parsons at one of the forward spots- but they were barely a .500 team last season, do they really think Howard instead of Asik makes them championsip contenders?

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    If Houston trades Asik, is his contract $8M and $8M, or is that 3rd year still $15M??? I'd say that if it's $15M for another team in year 3, he's going to be hard to trade. That's why the Bulls said No THANKS.

    At $8M, that's probably what he should make. He's solid on D and a tremendous rebounder. His footwork and offense have improved a ton since he first came into the NBA.

    I would think that Houston could get another rotation player for Asik if it's $8M per. At $15M, that's tough...

    Also, the Bulls may have kept Gibson over Asik partly because they already had Noah, but partly because they felt that Amnestying Boozer was a possibility and they liked the flexibility that Gibson provided with Boozer's big contract. Hypothetically, if the right deal comes along in the offseason, or the right player becomes available, you can Amnesty Boozer and start Gibson. Gibson is limited offensively, but you could do a lot worse than him as your PF in today's NBA.

    Maybe amnestying Boozer is the plan for after this year. Gibson or Mirotic could start, but there is no guarantee that Mirotic comes over.

    As you guys all know, I'm a fan of letting Deng go and signing Gasol after this season for the PF, assuming that he's healthy and spry at 34 next year. (He just turned 33) That's the one FA that gets me excited and fills a huge need for Chicago. Having Mirotic/Gasol/Noah/Gibson at the 4 and 5 positions with Rose-Butler-Snell (or another SF) with Dunleavy and Teague (kind of a wildcard, but has upside...) in the mix would be awesome under the new CBA. That is talent and more offense and floor spacing. I would think that the Bulls would be on Gasol's short list because he'd get tons of opportunity on the low block offensively and Noah can guard the better low-post player.

  • In reply to Granby:

    It's $8 million/$8 million for Houston, which like you said makes him a lot easier to trade than $5 million/$15 million the Bulls would have had to pay.

    And like you said, they might be able to trade him easily since there are plenty of teams where's he's better than the starting center. I would think some team would at least give up a 1st and an expiring contract.

    As much as I hate to say it, he seems like a perfect fit for the Heat. Not too expensive, and he can't score, but he would make them elite defensively. They could trap and overplay and gamble with LeFlop/Wade/Whoever on the perimeter and not have to worry about getting beat a lot easier with Asik at the rim.

    But they could only play him about 24 min, because he would hurt them A LOT on offense. They need Bosh/James at 4/5 to be so dangerous on offense.

  • In reply to Granby:

    Actually, Asik gets paid 5/5/15 regardless of who he plays for, including the Bulls. However, the Arenas rule made him 8.33/8.33/8.33 for cap purposes for any team other than the Bulls who would have had him on their cap for 5/5/15.

    This rule was originally meant to try to help the player get more money and to help his team keep its own free agent by having a lower cap hit, but it eventually backfired.

    Asik will get paid $5 million this season and $15 million next season no matter who he plays for, and at this point he will count $8.33 million against the cap this season and next no matter who he plays for, including if he is traded to the Bulls.

    Finally, if you really want to measure Asik's impact on the game, especially when he was a Bull, you need to look at advanced defensive and plus/minus stats for when he was on the court vs when he was off the court. Giving any of his minutes to the Hole is a disaster defensively and plus/minus wise. Taj Gibson at just under 6'8" isn't a center even in the small ball era.

    There were several articles about this on ESPN last year which suggested that he was among the most impactful defenders in the league for his 2 seasons with the Bulls. There was some discussion as to whether this more about Asik or more about Gibson, but in the end I think that most analysts determined that while they both contributed, it was Gibson who benefited from playing with Asik rather than the other way around.

    As I've contended from day one, Rose along with a big man rotation of Noah, Asik and Gibson with the proper compliment of offensive players at the wing positions(i.e, not Luol Deng and Keith Bogans) has a legit shot at winning a championship and might have already done so if not side tracked by injuries.

    For going on 20 NBA seasons now teams featuring our starting forwards haven't come close to sniffing one.

    Not saying that this won't be our best Rose era team or our best bench mob, but adding(retaining) Asik back to the mix would make it a no brainer. Any chance that Houston trades Asik back to us for the BozoHole, just dreaming, of course. Heck, I'll even throw in next years first round pick.

  • If Snell turns out to be another Butler as far as potential, that will be huge! Plus Teague is improving.

    So, Thibs needs to play the kids more and play the starters less, which will have a two-fold benefit. Think he will? I suspect so. He should sense that the Bulls are close and he needs to find out what they have in these younger draftees.

    If the youths are looking strong near the trade deadline, look for a significant trade for a backup big -- unless one of the FAs is working out well.

  • @rustyw

    I think you hit the nail on the head. Keys to success this cming year.

    1----Health

    2---Taj improves instead of step back(like last season)

    3---Snell, and to a lesser extent Murphy, improving their play at the same rare as Butler did.

    +

    See how I JUST EXPECT Rose to make a full return to greatness!!!!!!

    Comments???

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