Tom Thibodeau has had a reputation of not making enough adjustments and just wanting to do things his way no matter what. Fans have been upset about rotations, overuse of players, and other issues which Thibodeau doesn't seem to see in front of him at times. However, it's worth noting when he changes instead of sticking to the same script, and he's made a huge change for the better of the Bulls.
Thibs has been a fan of hockey line like substitutions frequently. We saw that in the first two years with the bench mob, and we saw that this season for much of the beginning of the year. The hockey line substitution hasn't worked well this season because it's taken too much experience off the floor.
When Mirotic, McDermott, Snell, Gibson, and Brooks were paired together the team was getting destroyed. I created a metric of guys you want to keep together on the floor to create your best lineup. Rose, Butler, Noah, Gasol, and Gibson were the guys I would put on the list, though Gibson has been out for all of the games I went through.
I've then gone through the last three games were Rose played the full game so we can get a more accurate depiction of how guys were used. It's worth noting that with Mirotic getting consistent burn, his level of play has gone up tremendously. He's no loner playing like a net negative player.
Here's the break down in rotations:
++ Minutes with the 4-5 stabilizing players
+ Minutes with 3 stabilizing players
-- Minutes with 0-1 stabilizing players
Rose, Noah, Gasol, Butler, Gibson
++ 12:00 - 5:07 Rose, Butler, Dunleavy, Gasol, Noah 5:53
+ 5:07 - 4:30 Rose, Butler, Dunleavy, Gasol, Mirotic :37
4:30 - 0:00 Brooks, Butler, Dunleavy, Gasol, Mirotic 4:30
12:00 - 8:32 Brooks, Butler, McDermott, Noah, Mirotic 3:28
-- 8:32 - 5:31 Brooks, Snell, McDermott, Noah, Mirotic 3:01
-- 5:31 - 4:24 Brooks, Snell, McDermott, Gasol, Mirotic 1:07
+ 4:24 - 2:15 Rose, Snell, Butler, Gasol, Mirotic 2:09
++ 2:15 - 0:00 Rose, Dunleavy, Butler, Gasol, Noah 2:15
++ 12:00 - 4:54 Rose, Butler, Dunleavy, Gasol, Noah 7:06
4:54 - 1:59 Brooks, Butler, Dunleavy, Gasol, Mirotic 2:55
1:59 - 0:00 Brooks, Butler, Snell, Gasol, Mirotic 1:59
12:00 - 7:56 Brooks, Butler, Snell, Noah, Mirotic 4:04
7:56 - 5:37 Brooks, Butler, Snell, Gasol, Mirotic 2:19
+ 5:37 - 4:20 Rose, Butler, Snell, Gasol, Mirotic 1:17
+ 4:20 - 0:18 Rose, Butler, Dunleavy, Gasol, Mirotic 4:02
+ 0:18 - 0:00 Rose, Butler, Dunleavy, Gasol, Mirotic 0:18
(notes Hinrich/Gibson out, Noah had to leave at 5:37 in the fourth with injury and probably would have stayed in until the end otherwise)
++ 12:00 - 5:03 Rose, Butler, Dunleavy, Gasol, Noah 6:57
5:03 - 3:17 Hinrich, Butler, Dunleavy, Gasol, Mirotic 1:46
-- 3:17 - 0:00 Brooks, Hinrich, Dunleavy, Gasol, Mirotic 3:17
0:00 - 6:37 Brooks, Hinrich, Butler, Noah, Mirotic 5:23
+ 6:37 - 5:54 Rose, McDermott, Butler, Noah, Mirotic :41
+ 5:54 - 4:35 Rose, McDermott, Butler, Gasol, Mirotic 1:29
+ 4:35 - 2:31 Rose, Dunleavy, Butler, Gasol, Mirotic 2:04
++ 2:31 - 0:00 Rose, Dunleavy, Butler, Gasol, Noah 2:31
++ 12:00 - 4:52 Rose, Butler, Dunleavy, Gasol, Noah 7:08
+ 4:52 - 3:12 Hinrich, Butler, Dunleavy, Gasol, Noah 1:40
3:12 - 1:34 Hinrich, Butler, Dunleavy, Gasol, Mirotic 1:38
-- 1:34 - 0:00 Brooks, Hinrich, Snell, Gasol, Mirotic 1:34
-- 0:00 - 9:26 Brooks, Hinrich, Snell, Noah, Mirotic 2:34
9:26 - 7:01 Brooks, Hinrich, Butler, Noah, Mirotic 2:25
+ 7:01 - 3:58 Rose, Hinrich, Butler, Noah, Mirotic 3:03
+ 3:58 - 3:02 Rose, Hinrich, Butler, Gasol, Mirotic :56
++ 3:02 - 0:00 Rose, Hinrih, Butler, Gasol, Noah 3:02
(notes: Gibson still out)
++ 12:00 - 4:22 Rose, Butler, Dunleavy, Gasol, Noah 7:38
4:22 - 2:43 Hinrich, Butler, Dunleavy, Gasol, Mirotic 1:39
2:43 - 0:00 Brooks, Hinrich, Butler, Gasol, Mirotic 2:43
-- 12:00 - 8:56 Brooks, Hinrich, McDermott, Noah, Mirotic 3:04
8:56 - 6:54 Brooks, Hinrich, Butler, Noah, Mirotic 2:02
6:54 - 4:56 Brooks, Hinrich, Butler, Gasol, Mirotic 1:58
+ 4:56 - 3:53 Rose, Butler, Dunleavy, Gasol, Mirotic 1:03
++ 3:53 - 0:00 Rose, Butler, Dunleavy, Gasol, Noah 3:53
++ 12:00 - 3:45 Rose, Butler, Dunleavy, Gasol, Noah 8:15
+ 3:45 - 2:55 Hinrich, Butler, Dunleavy, Gasol, Noah :50
2:55 - 1:52 Brooks, Hinrich, Butler, Gasol, Mirotic 1:03
-- 1:52 - :30 Brooks, Hinrich, Snell, Gasol, Mirotic 1:22
-- :30 - :00 Moore, Hinrich, Snell, Gasol, Mirotic :30
12:00 - 8:22 Brooks, Hinrich, Butler, Noah, Mirotic 3:38
+ 8:22 - 5:18 Rose, Brooks, Butler, Noah, Mirotic 3:10
+ 5:18 - 3:57 Rose, Brooks, Butler, Gasol, Mirotic 1:21
3:57 - 3:16 Rose, Brooks, Snell, Gasol, Mirotic :41
3:16 - 1:46 Brooks, Snell, McDermott, Mirotic, Nazr 1:30
1:46 - 0:00 Moore, Snell, McDermott, Mirotic, Nazr 1:46
(notes, Gibson still out, and not counting the scrub line up at the end when the game was out of reach as a bad rotation since they would have used starters if it mattered)
The Bulls are getting their -- minutes down much lower than they were earlier in the season where we'd play poor lineups for eight minutes minutes straight at times. The result has been a more even performance where the Bulls aren't getting destroyed night in and night out when they go to the bench.
Other interesting notes, the Bulls started pulling players with four minutes left to go in the Brooklyn game, a common complaint with Thibodeau is that he doesn't pull players early enough. Granted, he waited until Brooklyn waived the white flag before pulling everyone though.
Another thing I found encouraging against Brooklyn was the use of a Brooks/Rose pairing. Kirk Hinrich's typically an abomination IMO, so I like that the Bulls are trying out Brooks/Rose together as I think that gives them a better chance to win more frequently.
Hinrich is still subbing in for Rose first though which means if one of our wing players actually stepped up and stopped sucking which limited Hinrich's minutes at the two that it would appear he'd still be ahead of Brooks on the backup PG depth chart.
What happens when Gibson comes back?
Was watching the game with Fred Pfeiffer of the Bullseye podcast and he asked me "You notice the Bulls aren't getting destroyed on the glass with Gibson out?"
He's right, Taj has been an atrocious rebounder this year, and while I hesitate to put all of the blame on Taj for the Bulls rebounding woes, he might own a bigger share of it than any other player.
Granted, he could have been rebounding poorly because he was playing on one wheel too.
Either way, Mirotic has played some outstanding basketball recently. His PER is up to 15.8 after last night's game and is now leading all rookies in PER. Mirotic's improved play has come by getting prolonged minutes without a short leash, and you wonder if he'll regress a bit if he goes back to playing 10 minutes a night.
The Bulls will probably (sadly) have enough injuries to continue to get him quality minutes over the season, but they need to find a way to keep him in the rotation even with Gibson back. I think Gasol/Noah can both have their minutes lowered to the 30 mark which would give Nikola plenty of time.
The other problem is figuring out a four man rotation that works. I don't think the Bulls should play Nikola and Gibson together. The best pairings would be Gibson and Gasol and Noah and Mirotic, but to use those pairings someone would have to lose their starting job and that's not likely happening.
In short, Gibson coming back might have a negative impact on the Bulls rotations again forcing the Bulls into sub optimal pairings because of whom they choose to start.
Can the path to Nikola's success be applied to Doug?
Mirotic started playing well when he got consistent minutes. Early in the season he was playing considerably worse than McDermott but injuries forced him into the rotation and got him plenty of looks.
He was still gun shy for a long time, failing to take shots and took a little bit to find his nerve. Granted, it didn't take him long, but I'm not sure if he gets there or not playing 10 minutes a night.
McDermott started off strong, but his confidence is wrecked. His minutes are way down, he's struggling to contain anyone and guys go right at him as soon as he enters the game. His position usually looks good, but players are scoring over him anyway.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Bulls really aren't running plays for him much anymore. He's now standing in the corner just containing a defender rather than being looked at to generate some offense. In his new role with less scoring opportunities and fewer minutes he's regressed something awful.
It's an interesting debate on what the Bulls should do about it. If you believe in McDermott then I think it's worth forcing a few minutes his way and running plays for him while he's in the game. The Bulls need to get Butler's minutes down anyway, and if they can get McDermott going by the playoffs it will be a huge, huge help for them.
At the same time, he's maybe the 10th man on this team right now and sacrificing quality play in order to get your 10th man going in a year while you're trying to win the title isn't something many teams would do.
It's hard for me to believe McDermott is this bad of a shooter. I expect he'll find his niche when he gets some more consistent playing time, but we might have to wait until next season to see it.
(note, post inspired by Coldfish from realgm who looked at rotations here)
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