Bench play still a strength for Chicago

Bench play still a strength for Chicago

For the second year in a row, there's been plenty of hand wringing over the off-season additions made and the weakening of the Bulls bench. So far the bench play looks as good as ever for Chicago.

There job was made easier this season with stalwart Taj Gibson already in place, and Kirk Hinrich ready to move to a bench role with Derrick Rose returning to the starting lineup. Effectively, the brought back Nazr Mohammed, added Mike Dunleavy, and called it a day. Where things may eventually break down is when the Bulls have an injury and need to go to the 10-13 men in the rotation.

Marquis Teague certainly doesn't have the trust of head coach Tom Thibodeau as Mike James's presence proves while Tony Snell and Erik Murphy don't look like NBA caliber players. Now any one of those players may step up and play just fine if they're forced into action. It's unfair to criticize the group that hasn't played for the belief that they'll play poorly.

So looking at who is playing, and the Bulls fans should smile at the results even if they have a bit of fear with the depth.

Kyle who?

Mike Dunleavy's failed to hit a three only once this year. He's shot 50% or better from beyond the arc in the past six games (seven overall). He hasn't missed a free throw in 12 attempts. Yeah, his 34% from inside the arc leaves a bit to be desired, but when you're shooting 54.5% from beyond it, I don't want to see you take another non layup inside it anyway.

I noted repeatedly in the preseason that there was no need to worry about Mike Dunleavy's shooting even when it was pretty horrific. I thought it would come around, because he's a proven shooter. Well, it has, but he's been much better than I expected so far.

Really, anyone out there looking at what Dunleavy's done so far and still wishing we'd chosen Nate Robinson over Dunleavy? I know I was sitting in that bus for awhile, but Dunleavy looks like a great addition to the team. Much like Korver, despite a relative lack of athleticism, he plays with a high effort level and does better with intangibles than you'd expect because of it.

Just stay healthy Kirk

I wasn't a big believe in bringing Kirk Hinrich back to the Bulls last season either. I was in the let's keep C.J. Watson and save some cash to use somewhere else camp. That was born out of a belief that the Bulls wouldn't pay the tax for multiple seasons, but that belief has proven incorrect and when healthy Kirk has been a very solid player.

Kirk has had a very Hinrichesque season so far. He's not shot the ball particularly well, but he shows his worth nearly every time he's on the floor. He continues to play hard nosed defense, and he's become the secondary ball handler the Bulls have needed next to Rose to help alleviate some of the pressure [especially given Derrick's struggles this season].

The thing with Hinrich will come down to health. If Kirk can remain healthy for a season then he's really going to be a quality player for the Bulls. If he misses 1/3rd of the year and part of the playoffs then it's going to be a rough deal for Chicago.

Taj Gibson is knocking down the J

He's slowed down a bit since a torrid preseason and a hot start, but Taj Gibson just looks notably better on the court this year compared to last. Many, including myself, were disappointed with Taj's season after the extension.

While his shooting percentage is actually down a tick this year from last, he's taking more jumpers and still keeping that percentage in the same vicinity. While we obviously love the points in the paint, the put backs, and break away dunks, Taj looks more complete on offense.

His defense has still been amazing as always. Taj Gibsono's a starting caliber PF, and the Bulls are fortunate to have him as a third big man.

The rest? We'll see

No one else is playing much, so there simply isn't much to judge. Nazr's looked fine in his very limited minutes. Snell, Murphy, Teague, and James have combined for 33 minutes, so what is there really to say about that?

I don't feel confident in the other guys, but as noted above, I'm not going to rip them for an inability to play when they haven't had a chance to play.

Health is a concern for this group if the drop off is ad big from the big three bench guys to the bottom five as we think it might be, but for now the Bulls have a bench that's carried them rather than disappointed them.

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  • I agree that there is a huge drop off after player 6-9. 10-13 is pretty weak.

    Hoping that Butler's toe is no big deal... we need that guy to play like last season.

  • I can't believe how hard the Trib is trying to pump up Rose. Today's headline is 'Rose revving up game, close to "exploding",' this follows the recent "Bulls offense coming together behind Rose" headline. Does this sell papers or is Reinsdorf slipping them money for writing nice things about the team?

  • The 3 bench amigos of Taj, Kirk and Dunleavy have been playing well and starting to get in sinc. I wish we had a defensive center alla Asik to bolster that second unit's defense and I'm hoping the Bulls get that athletic 7 footer in the draft next year. I really think thats probably the biggest difference from the 210-12 team, the Asik factor and how he impacted games with the superb rim protection. The rebounding has been excellent, unselfish ball movement and the shooting is starting to pick up. The only thing I can complain about is the lack of some of the key Bulls players in getting to the line which should come around. While the bench has been solid, the Bulls should not lose a chance to pick up a Ben Gordon or another bench scorer if they are bought out.

  • Same story, different summer- people moan and bitch all summer about superstars like Korver, Watson, Brewer, Robinson, Belinelli being gone, and how much the bench is going to suck without them, and how much the new bench guys suck.

    Then every year, but not usually this early in the season, they realize that the new bench is just as good, if not better, than the old bench.

    Asik would be different, if so many people didn't still believe that he was "finishing games in the 2011 ECF", which DID NOT HAPPEN. Only once, in garbage time during a Bulls' blowout win, did Asik see ANY floor time in the last 4 minutes of any of those games.

    But anyway, as good as Asik's defense was, his horrific lack of any offensive skills whatsoever actually made him a net NEGATIVE during his 2nd season. That's not a huge deal, and it would still be nice to have him as a backup center, if you leave out the small, minor detail that he has less than zero interest in being a backup.

    Houston is now finding out what Bulls fans refused to believe- you don't get a lot in trade for a player when the entire league knows you have no leverage as you have zero use for said player. And if Asik can't play with Dwight Howard, why do people still insist that he could have played with Noah?

    I love Noah and his game, and even though Dwight should change his last name to Massengill, Noah is no Dwight Howard.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    I don't know... Asik was amazing on defense. And rebounding. He seemed to finish a lot in the playoffs that year. However, he did get hurt in that Miami series...

  • In reply to Granby:

    People say he finished a lot, but he didn't.

    A month or so back, I did a complete breakdown, and I think he MIGHT have actually finished two games out of the 15 or so he played in the 2011 playoffs.

    And yes he was amazing on defense and an awesome rebounder, but you can't pay $8.3 million a year for a 15-minute per game backup center in today's NBA.

    And even if you could, ASIK DIDN'T WANT TO BE HERE. He wants to be a starter, not a backup. Plain and simple, end of story.

  • "But anyway, as good as Asik's defense was, his horrific lack of any offensive skills whatsoever actually made him a net NEGATIVE during his 2nd season."

    That statement is simply factually wrong. Asik(or if you prefer Asik and Gibson) had some of the highest if not the highest on court off court numbers in the league during both of Asik's season's with the Bulls, and if my memory serves me they were better during his second season. Hollinger, whom you appear to despise, despite you yourself being Mr. Statman, loved those guys, especially Asik.

    I find it interesting that for someone who usually posts an entire page of stats to make your point sound reasonable you went without them this time. I guess you couldn't find any that didn't contradict your point, so kind of like our president you just decided to wing it(lie). You know, like all people(especially lawyers) who just think that they are smarter than everyone else.

    As for your Houston hypothesis, talk about jumping to conclusions, it has only been about 3 days since they decided that they have no choice but to move Asik. I am shocked, shocked I tell you that they haven't been able to trade him yet, especially for an All star.

    We'll see who they ultimately get for him, I won't be surprised if it turns out be someone who could start for the Bulls, or at worst would be our 6th man.

    But don't let reality and common sense get in the way of your usual rant trying to prove that you are smarter than everyone else.

    As for "Noah is no Dwight Howard", no he isn't, but what he is is someone who is willing to to whatever is best for the team, like covering up for your useless power forward by running around chasing stretch 4's at the 3 point line so the clown can camp out in the lane to pad his 4rth best rebounder in NBA history stats. Something that Howard would never do, thus making the Howard/Asik pairing impossible. Noah/Asik is at least somewhat doable specifically because Noah is no Dwight Howard.

    The Bulls were unable to keep Asik only because they were already stuck with the BozoHole, plain and simple. There are those of us who would rather go to battle, especially in the playoffs, especially against Miami with a frontcourt of Noah, Gibson and Asik, than with Noah, BozoHole and Gibson. Given the Hole's playoff performance over the past 3 seasons, there is no way you can stat your way out of that debate.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    "That statement is simply factually wrong. Asik(or if you prefer Asik and Gibson) had some of the highest if not the highest on court off court numbers in the league during both of Asik's season's with the Bulls"

    Sorry, but that's just 100% wrong. See for yourself:

    http://www.82games.com/1112/11CHI14.HTM

    The Bulls were +9.6 per 100 poss with Asik on the floor in 2011-12, and +10.1 per 100 poss when he wasn't on the floor.

    Just because I didn't copy and paste the link doesn't mean I didn't look it up first. This stat is so simple to find that I didn't think the link was really necessary, my bad.

    Unlike many folks (not saying you), I don't just make stuff up.

    But it's not like Asik could have made a huge difference anyway, even if the Bulls weren't a worse team with him on the floor. Even in Year 2 he was only on the floor 30% of the time (or ~14.4 minutes per game, 48 x .30 = 14.4)

    And to semi-quote something you said a few days ago, what Asik brings in a trade is all a matter of opinion right now. We'll see what actually happens.

    And yes, I already know that the rest of it is Boozer's fault, so no need to discuss that.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Well, Asik is awesome, but the reason they let him go is because of $15 million next season against the cap. Not b/c of Bozo. They can amnesty Bozo, which is a sweet option to have, even if they do not use it b/c it adds flexibility.

    But, Asik will be hard to move for Houston b/c of the contract looming next year and b/c his offense sucks. And b/c he cannot play more than 15 minutes per game with Howard on the court. Look, I think his defense transformed the Bulls and they still miss the rim protection (that Noah does not provide), but you can't pay him that kind of money.

    The Bulls screwed the pooch by not signing him before he became restricted. But, he had a broken leg and they were signing Taj. It was a tough call...

  • The last few games have had thebench looking improved but lets not over rate the bench cause of the last few oopponents.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    NO, the bench has been pretty awesome all year, not including opening night. Gibson, Dunleavy and Nazr have all been a "+" during their time on the floor since then damn near every night (not including "the last game" vs the Jordans, ironically).

    Hinrich has been pretty much the opposite of those guys, because he's been playing so many minutes with the starters that his +/- pretty much follows theirs.

    If you want I'll post the numbers of how they've been outscoring the other team pretty much all season, but I'm sure you'll never admit to being wrong anyway, right?

    "The last few opponents" includes the Pacers, BTW.

  • Will be interesting to see what happens next with the bench, with Butler out does Snell play or are we back to 48 minutes a night for Deng?

  • Well with butlers injury it looks like some of those bench players will have to step up maybe Snell or dunleavy and Kirk get more minutes

  • Sacramento is desperate to instill some good veteran leadership and draft pics and young prospects.
    How about Deng and Teague for Thornton, Luc "Fresh Prince", Fredette? Salaries match or very close to matching.

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