Remember the Chicago Bulls' Benchmob from last year? Yea - me neither

Remember the Chicago Bulls' Benchmob from last year? Yea - me neither

It should be one of the few things that Paxson and Forman have to smile about...right now at least. And as a fan, you should give some credit where credit is due too.

Thats because the Chicago Bulls are playing good basketball, and they are doing it in spite of what everyone had to say about the departure of the "bench mob".

That group consisting of Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver, C.J. Watson, John Lucas III, Omer Asik, and a hint of Mike James did some great things for the Chicago Bulls over the previous two season, only to be shown the door due to impending salary cap issues to come over the next 2 years.

Queue Bulls fans' disgust.

But whether or not you miss Kyle Korver's Urban Outfitters hair, or John Lucas' Mighty Mouse bravado, or Omer Asik's dolphin-handed shot blocks, you're going to have to start getting used to this new bunch.

Why? Because they are better than the old one.

Here's why:

Last season, the Chicago Bulls were 18-9 without Derrick Rose in the lineup. This year? 19-13, and in first place in the division. I won't even mention that all of the new guys, except for perhaps Nate Robinson, are unfamiliar with Thibodeau's system.

Here is a breakdown of last year's 18 wins/losses without Derrick Rose:

DATE OPPONENT SPREAD RESULT ATS OVER/UNDER O/U
-6.9 18-9 SU 14-12-1 ATS 184 10-16-1
1/11/12 vs Wizards -11.5 W 78-64 W 180.5 U
1/16/12 at Grizzlies -2 L 86-102 L* 174 O
1/17/12 vs Suns -9.5 W 118-97 W 182.5 O
1/20/12 at Cavaliers -5.5 W 114-75 W 185 O
1/21/12 vs Bobcats -12.5 W 95-89 L 184 P
2/10/12 at Bobcats -13.5 W 95-64 W 182 U
2/12/12 at Celtics -1 L 91-95 L* 171.5 O
2/14/12 vs Kings -11 W 121-115 L 186.5 O
2/16/12 vs Celtics -8 W 89-80 W 179.5 U
2/18/12 vs Nets -11.5 L 85-97 L* 189 U
3/14/12 vs Heat +3 W 106-102 W* 189 O
3/16/12 vs Trailblazers -8.5 L 89-100 L* 194 U
3/17/12 vs 76ers -4 W 89-80 W 184.5 U
3/19/12 at Magic +2 W 85-59 W* 183.5 U
3/21/12 at Raptors -7 W 94-82 W 183.5 U
3/24/12 vs Raptors -12.5 W 102-101 L 182.5 O
3/26/12 vs Nuggets -7.5 L 91-108 L* 198.5 O
3/28/12 at Hawks -4 W 98-77 W 181.5 U
3/30/12 vs Pistons -11 W 83-71 W 181.5 U
4/1/12 at Thunder +6 L 78-92 L 191.5 U
4/2/12 vs Rockets -7.5 L 93-99 L* 185 O
4/5/12 vs Celtics -7 W 93-86 P 178 O
4/10/12 vs Knicks -7 W 98-86 W 187 U
4/16/12 vs Wizards -13 L 84-87 L* 187 U
4/18/12 at Bobcats -13 W 100-68 W 179 U
4/19/12 at Heat +6.5 L 72-83 L 183.5 U
4/26/12 vs Cavaliers -14.5 W 107-75 W 183 U

Sure, they had a win over the Miami Heat, and they beat the Celtics twice, Knicks, and Hawks. They did manage to lose to an awful Nets and Wizards team. The rest of their wins were against extremely mediocre teams. Even the Knicks were only an 8th seed last year.

Now, lets look at this year:

Fri 2 ClevelandQuicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH W 115-86
Sat 3 vs New OrleansUnited Center, Chicago, IL L 82-89
Tue 6 vs OrlandoUnited Center, Chicago, IL W 99-93
Thu 8 vs Oklahoma CityUnited Center, Chicago, IL L 91-97
Sat 10 vs MinnesotaUnited Center, Chicago, IL W 87-80
Mon 12 vs BostonUnited Center, Chicago, IL L 95-101
Wed 14 PhoenixUS Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ W 112-106
Sat 17 L.A. ClippersStaples Center, Los Angeles, CA L 80-101
Sun 18 PortlandRose Garden, Portland, OR L 94-102
Wed 21 HoustonToyota Center, Houston, TX L 89-93
Sat 24 MilwaukeeBMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI W 93-86
Mon 26 vs MilwaukeeUnited Center, Chicago, IL L 92-93
Wed 28 vs DallasUnited Center, Chicago, IL W 101-78
December Opponent Result
Sat 1 vs PhiladelphiaUnited Center, Chicago, IL W 93-88
Tue 4 vs IndianaUnited Center, Chicago, IL L 76-80
Wed 5 ClevelandQuicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH W 95-85
Fri 7 DetroitPalace of Auburn Hills, Detroit, MI W 108-104
Sat 8 vs New YorkUnited Center, Chicago, IL W 93-85
Tue 11 vs L.A. ClippersUnited Center, Chicago, IL L 89-94
Wed 12 PhiladelphiaWells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA W 96-89
Sat 15 vs BrooklynUnited Center, Chicago, IL W 83-82
Mon 17 MemphisFedExForum, Memphis, TN L 71-80
Tue 18 vs BostonUnited Center, Chicago, IL W 100-89
Fri 21 New YorkMadison Square Garden, New York, NY W 110-106
Sat 22 AtlantaPhilips Arena, Atlanta, GA L 75-92
Tue 25 vs HoustonUnited Center, Chicago, IL L 97-120
Sat 29 vs WashingtonUnited Center, Chicago, IL W 87-77
Mon 31 vs CharlotteUnited Center, Chicago, IL L 81-91
January Opponent Result
Wed 2 OrlandoAmway Center, Orlando, FL W 96-94
Fri 4 MiamiAmerican Airlines Arena, Miami, FL W 96-89
Mon 7 vs ClevelandUnited Center, Chicago, IL W 118-92

There were definitely some disconcerting losses at the start of the season. To be fair, though, you'd expect that from a new look team with guys in different roles. But, you can't deny what's been happening lately.

They have wins over Miami, Boston, Brooklyn (much better this year), and two wins over New York, which is a far better team this year. That Miami win? That was a road win against a World Champion Miami Heat.

The biggest caveat to all of these statistics is the fact that last year's team had Derrick Rose waiting in the wings the whole time. The city was energized and the focus was on winning every single game to eventually match-up with the Miami Heat to play for the NBA finals.

This year's team has had a much different focus. Most people in Chicago, some even very close to the team, have assured the fans to "relax", that this is not their year to win an NBA championship. That this was just a year to exercise a few 1-year contracts and ease Derrick Rose back, almost similar to the Dallas Mavericks' "missed on D-Will and D-12" plan.

But where they sit now, it can't be overlooked. This team, with Robinson, Bellinelli, Gibson, Butler, Hinrich, and Teague all making up the eventual bench for Rose when he comes back, can play every bit as good a brand of basketball as the old benchmob. Omer Asik's departure certainly hurts, but other than that the Bulls appear to have improved.

Bellinelli is more dynamic than Korver, and actually plays some defense. Robinson plays as much defense as Watson, but can light it up for Lucas and Watson combined. Butler is Brewer but with a higher ceiling. Teague can come in and control the game as well as play defense, so can Hinrich. And Gibson has shown lately why many expected he'd improve into a top 6th man in the NBA.

So for all their faults, credit is due to the Bulls organization that frugally replaced the bench with guys that can play. And, they may have just given us a legitimate shot at returning to the Eastern Conference Finals.

 

Comments

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  • Wow, sounds way different than what your blog was stating early In year..."thibs ruining dengs career" was headline I believe, and you were in an uproar because we blew a 20 something point lead in November with a new group of guys. Now You actually sound like a real Bulls fan congrats. And captain Kirk isn't nearly as bad as you seem to think. He's not a #1 p.g I know that but you got to realize hes playing more out of position than anyone moving from back up to starter. He's logging plenty of minutes( which we desperately need, and he's not at all pretty, but he's in position and fundamentally sound. He will look a lot better when he's coming off of bench in situations that dictate him over Nate. When rose is back i think Nate will be more the number 2, but thibs is using Kirk because he's a safer 30 minute a night player. Nate is a specialist more not a starter in my opinion. This team is built around d rose way more than bench mob was. No setbacks to rose and we are looking good

  • Deng is still getting run down, and Deng should still be the first player involved in any trade deal if they can't move Boozer

  • I think what you're seeing lately, lack of defense, a lot of small injuries creeping in, is a product of the number of minutes these guys have been asked to play. And Deng and Noah, playing the most minutes, have been very ineffective lately when they do play.

  • And I will credit you for thinking Noah could continue to score like this, he's showing vaste improvements compared to years past. I hope it continues when rose comes back. Hes a legit Half court offensive player now

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