The starters are likely set at Rose, Butler, Dunleavy, Gasol, and Noah. The key bench players will likely be McDermott, Gibson, Hinrich and possibly a smattering of Brooks/Mirotic. However, what's important for many is who will close?
The battle for making the closing rotation is mostly an issue in the front court where Noah, Gibson, and Gasol will vie for two spots. Previously, I think everyone simply assumed that Joakim Noah would earn one of them after his amazing season last year.
However, thus far in preseason he's probably played the worst of the big men for Chicago and if he continues to take awhile to come around it's certainly possible we could see a Gibson/Gasol pairing to close games particularly since they would seem better offensively and similar defensively to Noah/Gasol and provide better balance than Noah/Gibson.
Taj Gibson has sacrificed starting minutes behind Boozer, but he was rewarded with closing minutes which eased that sacrifice. Pau Gasol noted he expects to close as well. I'm sure Joakim Noah's expecting to close out games too. The Bulls have historically had great chemistry and willingness to sacrifice under Thibodeau, but the closing minutes of the front court would seem to be a big challenge in keeping everyone happy.
In the past, Thibodeau has simply gone with the hot hand, and if he balances out the closing minutes rather than having set closers that might be the compromise everyone can live with, at least until a regular best closing lineup forms naturally.
Things certainly don't seem like they'd get so emotional on the wing rotation in terms of closing. Derrick Rose is obviously a closer as is Jimmy Butler in most situations. That leaves one spot to go to McDermott, Dunleavy, or Hinrich.
This one could also be done by a "hot hand" or "match up" model, perhaps permanently. Hinrich gives the Bulls defense and ball handling, Dunleavy and McDermott give the Bulls shooting and size. It's unlikely to see this position come down to any bruised egos since McDermott is just a rookie, Dunleavy's a three million dollar player, and Kirk's a two million dollar player.
None of these guys are likely closing games for other teams unlike the front court where all three have legitimate cases to close games and would likely do so elsewhere.
Filed under: Uncategorized