The Chicago Bulls have "depth" on the wing. What remains to be seen is whether they have enough talent in that depth.
The Bulls have a perimeter rotation without a whole lot of certainty. There are two guys that I think can be plugged in immediately for as long as they are healthy:
PG: Derrick Rose (36 minutes)
Wing: Jimmy Butler (36 minutes)
Rose and Butler could each play a little more or a little less depending how things go, but 36 minutes seems like a good starting point. That leaves the following minute allocation available:
Since Butler can swing between either position defensively, and the Bulls offense doesn't really differentiate between the two we can mix and match for the rest of the minutes however we want for the rest of the wing minutes.
For the 12 PG minutes, the Bulls have two options. Aaron Brooks and Kirk Hinrich, this initially doesn't seem too important, because the assumption is Hinrich takes all the minutes and Aaron Brooks is merely your break glass player. However, I think that could easily prove inaccurate.
The Bulls experimented with two ball handlers last year with pretty good success, and so I think it's quite possible that we'll see Hinrich playing SG along side Rose with Brooks playing backup PG minutes if Aaron can prove himself in practice/preseason/games. I don't think it's the likely scenario, but it's definitely a possible scenario.
The Bulls could also simply play Hinrich 26 minutes a night to get him over a full quarter of time with Rose as well, so they don't need to play Brooks to make some use of the better ball handling lineup. I'd say that's probably the more likely of the two scenarios if they want to see Hinrich/Rose together, especially since I expect the Bulls offense to play better this season than it has recently, so Thibs won't have the same drive to put in an offensive oriented guy like Brooks that he might have had with Augustin and Robinson.
Either way, I think it's safe to assume that Hinrich grabs between 10-20 of those 60 remaining minutes on the wing. I doubt the Bulls limit him to just 12 minutes a game after giving him the MMLE. If so, it was a big mistake to pay him so much, especially since he'll be declining and be worth even less next season.
Doug McDermott should, but won't, play 30 minutes a game
I'm willing to bet large amounts of money that two things happen this year.
First, Doug McDermott won't play more than 24 minutes a game. Second, Bulls fans will be universally pissed off by this by January and have routine discussions of "Why the hell is Thibodeau locked in to Dunleavy as the starter when McDermott is so much better?".
Let's hope I'm wrong on both counts. It just seems like it will fit his pattern so well. Thibs will pick his starters early. He'll refuse to change them later, and Dunleavy will then end up taking, at least a Bogans share of minutes [for those without a Bulls dictionary handy, taking a Bogans would refer to a guy who sucks ass, but starts, and because he starts he plays a minimum of 16 minutes a game regardless of how wretched he is].
It's not so much that I'm against starting Dunleavy or feel he's a horrible player, but I'm against starting him in October and then not revisiting whether that's the best idea or not until he's no longer on the team in July, and Thibodeau hasn't been one to ever change his starting lineups no matter how ridiculous the decision is to keep them the same.
Seriously, it can be argued that the Bulls lost playoff games over this idiocy, and if losing playoff games isn't a big enough motivating factor to switch stuff up then who knows what is?
It's so bad that I (and others before me) have created the term Bogans to describe the behavior, and you can find a Bogans on the team each year Thibs has been coach.
However Doug McDermott looks like the Bulls best option for shooting, floor spacing, and secondary scoring on the perimeter by a huge margin. Chicago annihilated opponents while Kyle Korver was on the floor a few years back, but the Bulls frustratingly enough didn't play him nearly enough minutes. Let's not repeat this mistake with McDermott who has the same game only with far more skills and no experience.
Let's get him that experience right away. The team will benefit tremendously for it by May.
Tony Snell seems to be gathering a following
After a strong summer league performance, there seem to be plenty of Bulls fans out there that want to give Tony Snell a chance. They think he's going to be a great player and showed lots of flashes of talent last year.
Check out this awesome list of bad asses.
That's the list of guys who had a PER under 8.1 and played over 1000 minutes in their rookie season. It's also a list of guys who completely sucked balls and made no impact in the NBA. Norris Cole might be the best player on that list, but he'd just be another dude about to exit the NBA if it weren't for playing with LeBron.
Now, in fairness to Snell, if you lower the minute requirement there are other players who stunk as bad as him and got better. Snell probably wouldn't have played so many minutes last year except the Bulls had no depth after the Deng trade. Still, it's rare to be so bad and become not bad. He's also had three years of college, so it's not like he was an inexperienced rookie.
Objectively his college metrics basically said "this guy doesn't belong in the league" and his first season metrics say "this guy doesn't belong in the league".
Subjectively, Snell appears to have the length, athleticism, size, and shooting touch to be a very good 3D player (three point shooter and defender). That's the type of specialist position that every team wants, but has really only looked for in the past five to six years. Given that, it's quite possible that the previous list of metrics won't do him justice because teams weren't looking to fill this niche over a long history of time.
So the skinny on Snell is this:
If he can shoot threes at 38%+ and prove that he can use his length/athleticism to defend well then he's going to play plenty. He struggled mightily in both areas last season, but he definitely has potential in both. I'm not optimistic, but it's easy to chart out a path where he succeeds. He needs to get NBA good at two skills that should be in his wheelhouse.
If he can manage that, then he could also be a guy worth playing 20+ minutes a night, if not, he could be a guy worth playing zero minutes a night.
Mike Dunleavy probably takes too many minutes
My theory is that before very long every minute Dunleavy plays is a minute you'll wish McDermott (or possibly Snell) had played instead. I don't think we'll see much of McDermott and Dunleavy together, but it might be awfully fun if they did play some mega shooting lineups with Derrick Rose out there to see how big they could make the driving lanes.
That said, Thibs will always lean towards guys who can defend, and while Mike Dunleavy isn't a plus defender, he'll likely have enough in his veteran bag of tricks, long years of experience, and size to defend better than Doug McDermott initially. If nothing else, he'll at least have had another year in the scheme and will be in the right place through more time building up good habits.
This alone should land Dunleavy the starting spot at the beginning of the season which I'm fine with if we can re-evaluate it on Jan 1 and see if it still makes sense. Can we get a bonus put into Thib's contract for starting line up re-evaluation? Maybe we can us that long all-star layoff as a new mini training camp to re-earn your starting position?
Given that Dunleavy seems like a likely bet to start, you have to allocate at least 15 minutes to him minimum, but since he doesn't stink like Keith Bogans and might easily be better than Tony Snell and Kirk Hinrich, it's quite possible that he'll earn quite a few more minutes.
So what have we got?
Out of our 60 remaining minutes, we can guess that Kirk Hinrich chews up 12. It could easily be more if Aaron Brooks proves he should play the backup PG minutes, but I'm going to guess Thibs would rather have Hinrich run the offense, so we'll keep it at 12 for now.
That leaves 48 minutes for McDermott, Snell, and Dunleavy. I'm initially betting on Dunleavy to play close to 28 minutes a game and one of Snell/McDermott to get pushed out of the rotation and just play scrub or matchup related minutes. That leaves about 20 minutes for whomever wins that competition.
I'd say McDermott should have the inside track given how much the Bulls like him. He's also gotten a head start on plenty of rookies by participating with the US select team which gave him some additional time working with Thibs this summer.
He won't claim all of the minutes though, because Thibs will want to go defense by default which means Snell will still get chances to make an impact.
PG: Rose 36, Hinrich 12
SG: Butler 36, Hinrich 12
SF: Dunleavy 28, McDermott 20
Snell will play 12-15 minutes a night but only appear in half the games, mostly covering for injuries, foul trouble, or situational matchups. If he proves himself he'll have the shot to unseat someone. Derrick Rose may also get some rest days in which case Hinrich/Brooks will take all PG minutes opening up some more SG minutes for Snell to grab.
The Bulls have plenty of depth which means the minute allocation could reasonably go in plenty of different directions. The question will now be whether that depth yields enough talent.
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