As D.J. Augustin goes, so often do the Bulls. Last night, the Bulls couldn't rebound and struggled to defend, giving up 102 points to the lowly Celtics. However, they shot over 50% from the field and every time they needed points, there was D.J. Augustin to knock down a shot or get to the line.
It will be interesting to see what type of offers D.J. Augustin gets this off-season and whether the Bulls are able to keep him. Unlike Nate Robinson, D.J. does a good job of running the offense and is young enough that he's just entering his prime. His next contract should cover the best playing years of his career.
Whether Augustin and the Bulls can come up with a deal is another matter though. D.J. may see the writing on the wall with Derrick Rose returning and think his future role would be minimized here. The Bulls may look at the same thing and think they don't need Augustin so much either.
I'm going to go out and say both parties would be wrong for such thoughts. Augustin is the ideal backup PG for Chicago because he really could step into a primary role and still create real offense for the team. Since he's also a tremendous shooter, he could play along side Rose as the PG or SG as well.
The Bulls have done well with two ball-handling guard lineups, but they'll need a very good shooter next to Rose to make this work and Augustin is much better than Hinrich and should still be on his way up skillwise rather than on his way down.
Joakim Noah goes for the cycle in missed triple doubles
He's now missed a triple double due to lack of rebounds, lack of points (twice), and lack of assists (lots and lots of times). I suppose anyone versatile enough to be a consistent triple double threat has missed through various categories, but I don't know how many players have missed via all three. I suspect Noah is the only one.
If Noah finishes out the season on the same trend he is now, he'll become the 14th player to have a 12/11/5 average on the season. 10 of those players are in the hall of fame, Kevin Garnett is going there. The other two are Anthony Mason (would have never seen that coming) and Bob Kauffman.
The vast majority of those seasons were in the speed up era where there were about 30% more possessions though making Noah's feat a bit more impressive. That said, almost all the other guys averaged well over 12 points too, making his feat somewhat less impressive.
It's interesting trying to figure out where Joakim Noah is in terms of ranking in the NBA right now, but if he could create his own shot and averaged 20 points a game, he'd be a top five player, maybe the third best player behind LeBron and Durant. The fact that he's so skilled at passing, ball handling, defense, rebounding, and has an athletic body is simply bizarre.
I don't know that we'll ever see another Joakim Noah again.
Carlos Boozer bottom five in average distance traveled
In a stat which may mean something or nothing, Carlos Boozer is bottom five (in guys who actually play) in terms of distance traveled per 48 minutes in an NBA game.
However, before we completely throw him under the bus, it's worth noting that all big men move less than perimeter players, and the four guys even worse are Marc Gasol, David West, Paul Pierce, and James Harden. Harden sure seems like the outlier there, you'd think he'd have to move around plenty as a perimeter ball handler and perimeter defender.
Either way, that's not a bad list of players, and certainly not one I'd necessarily have associated with laziness outside of Boozer. Plenty of other cool advanced stats on this page. I intend to look at a few more in detail over the next couple weeks to see if there's anything meaningful to be gleaned.
The Bulls are one game back of the Raptors and will lose the tiebreaker for playoff seeding. With nine games to go, it seems unlikely that they'd jump the Raptors who finished the season off with a pretty light schedule. The Bulls would likely need to go 8-1 or better over the final nine.
That's not outside the realm of possibility with their remaining schedule but it's a long shot.
That means Chicago will likely be the four seed.
They'll almost certainly play Brooklyn in round one. I think that will be a 50/50 matchup, and the Nets will be looking for some vengeance after the Bulls upset them last year. Brooklyn has played well as of late, and they won't be an easy out in the playoffs.
If the Bulls make it to round two, things are pretty much neck and neck. The Heat and Pacers are tied in the loss column with one head to head game remaining against each other. The Pacers have definitely been sinking fast lately though and still have a few tough games remaining on their schedule.
If the Heat take the final head to head matchup, they'll have a one game lead in the loss column (though they've played two less games). The Pacers still own the tie breaker whether they win or lose against Miami in the final matchup. If the Pacers win that matchup the one seed is all but theirs.
If they lose it, Miami has an edge in securing it.
From a Bulls perspective, I think the worst case scenario is to sit remain the four seed, play Brooklyn in round one, and then have Miami waiting for them in round two. That said, let's be realistic, the Bulls don't have a real shot at winning this thing anyway, and if they did, they'd have to go through both Miami and Indy on the road, so I suppose it doesn't really matter what order you start with.
From a team building perspective, I think it becomes more important to make it to round two though. I think it helps lure free agents to have a team that's made it to the second round of the playoffs twice without Derrick Rose and will get Derrick Rose back.
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