Don't expect much from rookies

Don't expect much from rookies

Gar Forman inferred it. Tom Thibodeau outright said it. Don't expect much from the rookies this season. Championship caliber teams aren't playing rookies significant minutes, certainly implying this team won't either. That might be accurate, it might be best, but it's probably not a good thing for the outlook of the team.

If Mirotic and McDermott don't make a big impact this off-season, then what did the Bulls do? They swapped Boozer for Gasol and got Derrick Rose back for D.J. Augustin.

Of course Rose is the X-Factor of the whole team. An MVP caliber Derrick Rose makes the Bulls a mid 60s win team if everyone else stays healthy based on past experience and the fact that the East is even more pathetic than it's ever been.

That said, it's highly unlikely the Bulls get MVP Rose out of the gates, so even if he does get there it's probably closer to the end of the season which may cramp their win total slightly but still leave the a legit contender.

Of course, the real question is whether we get MVP Rose back at all. Derrick more or less said it all. He can reassure fans all we want, but until we see it we won't know. The health question will follow him around his whole career. I kind of disagree with that, it will follow him around until he's playing at a superstar level for a few consecutive weeks. After that it will stop.

Hopefully those weeks come soon.

The other major move, the acquisition of Gasol, looks good on paper, but Gasol's stats are eerily similar to 2009/10 Carlos Boozer stats. He's a much older player than Boozer at that point and is certainly at a point in his career where a drop off is likely.

Gasol's coming off two down seasons in a row at an age where down seasons usually mean a down career. That's why the Bulls were able to sign him for 3/20 and he wasn't getting 20 million a year, so it's not like he'll become a bad contract, however fans should also keep that in perspective.

He wasn't pursued as a star player by any team, his trajectory doesn't show star player, his contract doesn't show it, and his play on the court probably isn't going to show it either. In other words, don't expect him to move the needle.

If Rose is worse than 2010 Rose and Gasol is no better (and possibly worse) than 2010 Boozer, how will this team stack up otherwise? Jimmy Butler's probably worse than Luol Deng in the same season. Mike Dunleavy is worse than Korver. Noah and Taj have improved giving the Bulls a plus, but not a massive one.

The one thing you could hope for was a big contribution from Mirotic and McDermott. Those were the the guys that would help give this team tremendous depth and possibly more talent than the Bulls had in the past. Those were the guys who'd space the floor and create room for Derrick Rose

Those were the guys, however unlikely, the Bulls needed to play and play well in order to give them the offensive punch to become more than they were in the past. Those are the guys that Thibs said this about per SBN_Ricky:

Nikola and Doug are two guys we're reall excited we got. Nikola we waited for and there will be a period of adjustment for him and Doug as well. It's a big jump coming into our league. When you look back through history, see that there hasn't been two rookies in a championship rotation for a long, long time. They're unproven. We have to be patient and give them an opportunity to grow and learn. But I like the way they fit. They're a goo fit for us.

I'd say Thibs is just providing cover and setting the bar low, but his reputation as a coach is as a guy who doesn't play rookies, and he more or less just said don't expect these guys to make a major impact as straight as can be.

Maybe he'll still be open to playing them both in the rotation. Maybe they just need to prove themselves. However, you go back and think about rookies in the past who sat behind vets who kind of stunk and think, yeah, or maybe not.

We'll see what happens. I can't fault Thibs logic much on this topic. Most rookie aren't ready to win right away. Most aren't ready to be major contributors. The Bulls have two rookies who are in a unique position to buck that trend.

If they can't? I don't expect Thibs to play them. You don't give entitlement minutes while chasing a championship. However, I do hope they get a chance.

I do hope we aren't sitting here in February groaning about Mike Dunleavy playing while McDermott plays circles around him in 10 minutes a game but Dunleavy gets 25.

History says that second situation is a real possibility. Let's hope it doesn't repeat itself.

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  • I think this sums it up pretty well:

    "If Mirotic and McDermott don't make a big impact this off-season, then what did the Bulls do? They swapped Boozer for Gasol and got Derrick Rose back for D.J. Augustin."

    So, then, like, where did we really improve for this coming season? This off-season was just a lot of noise, flashy names and false hope.

  • In reply to Hunter:

    I can't agree, Hunter.

    1) Apart from landing Carmelo, what more could the Bulls have done?

    2) We do not know yet how well Gasol will fit, but he sure looked great in Europe! And we don't know about Rose either. If only those two hit, the Bulls are in the ECF for sure, and 50/50 for playing for the title.

    3) Besides, it's not only about this season. M & M can be future All-Stars.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    I still agree with myself.

    1) We could have chosen Lance over Pau and let Taj start (he's getting a lot of money for a backup, and actually did win me [a skeptic] over with his offense last season). That's one possibility

    2) I agree, we don't know the fit yet. We do know he's 34 and while his defense might tick up a little on a really good team, it's been two seasons as bad as Boozer now. Pau always plays well internationally. It's different competition, almost a different game altogether.

    3) Yes, I doubt it, but it would be nice. Derrick, Noah, Taj, and now Pau, aren't getting any younger. Pau's best year on the Bulls, for instance, will likely be this one. This iteration of the team doesn't have many seasons left with these core players playing at a high level.

  • In reply to Hunter:

    You have a point with Lance. The risk, and it is significant, he becomes a loose cannon again, ala Artest. However, he does have All-Star potential.

    The FO felt they had other options much safer. Apparently Thibs was on board with both Pau and McD, whom he knows well.

    Afflalo would have been another nice choice, but, as with Lance, the timing was also a big issue. I suspect they may trade for AA or someone similar near the deadline. They have the pieces.

  • The entire Bulls organization is trying to manage the fans expectations as I noticed yesterday. I remember last year at the same time, we were all hyped by the Bulls chances with Rose, Deng, Noah, Butler and Boozer and we know what happened after 10 games. The FO and the leads of the team know that on paper the sky is the limit, but it all depends on how they put together the pieces and validate the assets they brought in during training camp. And FO is also reminding us that rookies have not been key of any championship teams. However, M&M are special rookies, and I would be surprised if they don't become key to this team by playoff time as the prove Thibs that they are not the typical 18 years old rookie.

  • In reply to BullsDynasty:

    I agree with your comments, and have no issues with the tempered approached the FO is taking in regard to expectations for the season. To me, this approach shows the FO understands that in general, fans are satisfied with the makeup of this team (based on available options during the off-season), and can see the potential for a great season. Better this, than having a team everyone knows is mediocre at best, and the FO pushing some horse-crap championship delusion down all our throats. I also agree there is a reasonable possibility these rookies could be making meaningful contributions by the end of the year. Honestly, the team as a whole probably won't really be clicking until the second half of the season anyway, so there's no rush to get these rookie big minutes right away.

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    First, Gasol is a big improvement over Boozer. Before he started alongside Bynum and played under D'Antoni, he made his living in the low post. Prior to the 2009-2010 season, over 40% of his attempts were from 0-3 feet of the rim. The thing about being a 7 footer with a high BBIQ is that he doesn't have to be extremely athletic to be good in the low post. He's also a far better passer, decisionmaker, and (while not a great defender) he can at least block and alter shots at the rim. Boozer had less blocks per game last season than Kirk Hinrich.

    When was the last time the Bulls had two rookies like Mirotic and McDermott? Butler was the 30th pick, Teague sucks, Murphy sucks, Snell was inconsistent. If the rookies pick things up defensively, expect them to play.

  • In reply to Colin Spence:

    To answer your question: Horace Grant and Scottie Pippen.

    M&M may not turn out to be that good, but those two were not nearly the finished product as rookies.

    Back in '87-'88:
    Grant averaged 7.6ppg and 5.5rpg in 22mpg.
    Scottie averaged 7.9ppg, 3.8rpg and 2.1apg in 21mgp.

    I can't see why M&M can't do what Horace and Scottie did in their rookie year. I can see them playing 20mpg - even Mirotic given our front court depth b/c there will be injuries...

  • In reply to Granby:

    Good point, I would say that both the M&M boys are more developed basketball players than either Scottie or Horace were as rookies. The only reason that the M&M boys won't equal or surpass them is playing time due to the number of quality veterans ahead of them as opposed to the flotsam & jetsam that Scottie and Horace were competing against.

  • In reply to Colin Spence:

    Obviously, I totally agree on Gasol vs Boozer. Anyone who just looks at their relative stats, ppg & rpg and then decides that they are equivalent players either didn't watch Boozer play for the Bulls or is simply a cock-eyed Ben Gordon fan. By January of year one, it was obvious that the bozohole was nothing more than an empty stat piece of garbage.

    All you have to do is listen to a Gasol interview vs boozer's cliche filled stream of bullshit to know that they are on completely different levels as human beings never mind basketball players.

    In addition to being a much better fit on the basketball court, Gasol will be a big addition to team chemistry whereas his bozoholiness was simply tolerated as the buffoon that he is, if not an outright cancer. Nevermind that we are paying Gasol & Gibson about what we were paying the bozohole alone.

  • If McDermott isn't ready to make an impact this year, then why did the Bulls trade two valuable picks to get him? If he's not going to help immediately, then I'd rather have two players than one.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Exactly. Which is why thib's comments could be a bit of a smokescreen.

    To counter Doug's point about Thibs not playing rookies: There has never been a rookie like McDermott in recent memory that the front office has moved all-in on. I think thibs will have a mandate to play McDermott as long as he's decent. GarPax will look bad if he's not even contributing one bit - unless Dunleavy and Butler are playing out of their mind and the Bulls are winning. (Unlikely)

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Thibs bullheadedness is likely the biggest reason that McBucketts doesn't make a difference. Like Rose with his health, I'll believe it when I see it when it comes to Thibs changing his stripes.

  • I agree with everything Colin Spence says above. I fully expect McDermott to have an impact on the season. I wouldn't be surprised if Mirotic is brought on slow, but not McDermott. As far as expectations, how is this different from LeBron not expecting a championship this year? Everyone knows he is. I think people have learned from the Miami fiasco of announcing championships and have gone the safe route of downplaying expectations.

  • Mirotic with his age and actually some real experience if he's a talent as it seems likely he is to some extent I'd certainly think he should get some decent minutes at the four. Again though, with Pau 30mpg, Jo 30mpg or more and Taj at least 25mpg I don't know if Nikola will get the time on the court he very possibly could handle quite effectively. You'd think maybe a mid season trade based on his emergence(?), but wonder if, aside from injuries, Thibs will give Miro legit burn to show his worth.

    As for McD, yes he's a four year "man" so to speak, but still his body strength and defensive adjustment to the league might make his first year limited in his ability to play at the SF. We'll see, I still have some doubts about him being much more then a Korver, but even if he does prove to be a good player, there's no way I ever see him playing SG on a regular basis. I mean his handle is not regarded as exceptional even for a SF. Though if he's killer shooting that does give him some opportunities if he can use fakes and screens well. And his hand-width is nearly 10" which could help.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    Just b/c we have great depth up front does not mean we should trade it. Noah and Gibson are not ironmen, nor is Gasol who is also pretty damn old and coming off a busy summer of int'l play. There will be injuries. Not that this would actually happen with Thibs, but I would prefer to straight up rest guys on occasion like the Spurs do. It's a long season...

    McD is probably a pure 3 and has a better all-around offensive game than Korver. Korver was never the scorig playmaker in college that McD was last year - McD averaged 27ppg vs Korver's 18ppg and 3pt % was similar. Korver just shoots 3s now. McD can post, drive, pull up, fade away, etc... His D is my concern, but playing with Butler alleviates that somewhat. So, McD can be a SG on offense and SF on defense... it all depends on the matchup.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    Last 3 years of college from 3:
    Korver: 308/674 for 45.7%
    McD: around 225/483 for 46.6%

    So, Korver shot a bunch more 3's, but McD had a better % overall. They are probably similar shooters, but the fact that McD average many more PPG and shot way fewer 3's shows that he can score in the post and mid-range.

  • In reply to Granby:

    Nice analysis. I felt the same way, but you proved it with stats.

  • I think these two guys will play. McDermott may play more minutes given that he only has to beat out Dunleavy and Snell. Plus, GarPax moved all-in on McDermott by moving up in the draft and paid a lot for him so they will look bad if he doesn't get any burn. There will be a mandate to play McDermott.

    Mirotic may not play more than 15-20ppg if the other three bigs are healthy. But, there will be stretches when one goes down and he could see 30ppg during those times.

    I think these guys will play more than average rookies given their ages and experience.

    Plus, to Doug's (and Thibs's) point about rookies contributing to NBA contenders recently - most NBA rookies on contenders are picked late in the first round and it's rare that those picks turn out - especially in year one.

  • In reply to Granby:

    In an average draft, 50% of first round picks are probably 18-20 years old! How can you even expect those guys to contribute right away.

  • In reply to Granby:

    If the 3 bigs are healthy they would have to play only 25 minutes each to get Mirotic 20 mpg. Realistically, the only way to get him those kinds of minutes is if he can play small forward, which I doubt, but would like to see the Bulls try anyway.

    I don't know what Thibs will do, but it is hard to believe that the Bulls invested the equivalent of the full MLE for a bench warmer.

  • Lots of good points made here.

    My guesses:

    1-McDermott starts by All-StarBreak

    2-McDermott finishes)last 5 minutes of a close game before the break

    3-McDermott minutes for first 30 games small but steady rising

    4-Mirotic gets a few more minutes than many expect

    5-Big ? for me.., Brooks and how he fits in.

  • I think one of the reasons why the Bulls had success in 2010-11 was a ten man rotation, can Thibodeau get back to that and not play Butler and Dunleavy heavy minutes because he doesn't trust the other wings. The frontcourt depth is strong so I dont see him playing Noah 40 minutes a game but I don't think he has much faith in the wing depth right now unless Snell and McDermott come on strong and stay that way. Thibodeau talks about "proven players" so he doesn't like to play rookies. He's loyal to his veterans and doesn't like to shake things up even when the offense is mediocre.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    "Thibs doesn't like to play rookies." True in previous years.

    But Thibs wants titles, just as we fans do. When McD is dropping in 20 ppg in the second half of the season, even Thibs will figure it out!

  • I know that it will never happen, but our front line seems primed for a regular platoon system. Noah & Taj play the first 6 minutes of the first and third and the last 6 minutes of the second and fourth. Gasol and Mirotic play the last 6 minutes of the first and third and the first 6 minutes of the second and fourth. Basically a defensive front line to start and finish the game, with an offensive unit to pile up points against everyone else's second units.

    That is only 24 minutes each, which probably has them all unhappy, but keeps everybody fresh for the playoffs. Nobody on the Spurs played 30 minutes a night last season and things turned out pretty well for them.

    You could switch Taj and Mirotic to balance out the offense vs defense abilities of each unit, but that seems even less likely of a Thibs move. Thibs did this on a small unofficial basis in his first 2 years with Noah anchored to the bozohole and Asik and Gibson basically setting defensive records.

    Unless Mirotic can indeed play some small forward, I would be perfectly happy with a platoon system among our bigmen.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Novel idea indeed! I like it, except it would have to be Noah and Gasol starting for political, not bb, reasons. When the bigs start squawking, Thibs can threaten to cut their minutes to 22 each and give 8 minutes to Bairstow!

    Like you said, never happen. But at least some of the principle should.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    Politics aside that makes little(no sense) as Noah and Gasol are both centers(despite Gasol playing a PF on TV) and Gibson and Mirotic are both PF.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    As far as Mirotic playing small forward, you mean the position that LeBron, Melo and Durant play? I don't think so.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    Obviously, any minutes he got there would be as a sub, so he wouldn't necessarily be matched up with those guys.

  • BigWay, regarding Thibs bullheadedness with rest and minutes, you and I are in agreement. I too, will only believe Thibs can change when I actually see it over a period of months. As training camp opens, Thibs appears defiant. Please read article below:

    http://www.suntimes.com/m/30202575-773/thibodeau-criticized-for-running-bulls-into-ground-remains-defiant.html#.VCxMOhZY9FU

  • In reply to Edward:

    From an internal Cleveland scouting report regarding Luol Deng:
    "From a physical, when we got him, Chicago had run him into the ground."

    http://espn.go.com/blog/chicago/bulls/post/_/id/20194/scouting-report-bulls-ran-luol-deng-into-the-ground

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