Keith Bogans created defenses to run over the Bulls halfcourt offense by using his defender to help on Bulls scorers. His inability to hit an open jumper from anywhere on the court has made him an albatross. The logical choice is to replace him with Ronnie Brewer in the starting lineup, while for many reasons -- some rational, some selection biased, some love for the sexiness of a starting sniper, and of course some teeny-tiny unconscious overrating of we'll just say "that guy who doesn't look like the others" from a few -- others are proponents of Kyle Korver starting instead.
Doug Thonus posted early in the week he 'feels strongly' the "right
move" for the Bulls is to start Kyle Korver at SG. The problem is that
what Korver adds on the floor is simply most effective in every spot of the game, but the first six-to-eight minutes of it. Additionally, not only is Ronnie Brewer's defense more effective
but what he adds offensively is more conducive to the Bulls most
efficient approach to scoring in the first quarter.
Let's not forget that there were reasons why Brewer was signed to be the definitive starting two-guard for the Bulls and only a hamstring injury in the pre-season took him out of that lineup. And that Korver was signed to be a scorer off the bench with C.J. Watson slashing around and Taj Gibson cleaning up messes.
Nothing's really changed other than Korver fitting in greatly to a defensive scheme where the team compensates for where his athleticism is lacking and Taj is a much better scorer, making up for C.J.'s higher-than-expected inconsistencies.
Korver's a better perimeter option than last resort in a corner
Korver's best asset to the team requires him having the ball in his hands a lot to be effective.
Korver's scoring numbers are pretty awesome when you consider the production comes from only 23.7 minutes per game off the bench (9.3 PPG, .537 eFG% .411 3P%). These numbers translated to a per 36 minutes line becomes 14.6 PPG.
The flaw in the reasoning that Korver will better excel with more scorers relieving pressure from him ignores that Korver plays plenty of minutes with Derrick Rose and Luol Deng on the floor and still needs a high-volume of double-screens to excel. The reason is that it's no longer a secret that he'll shoot you out of the gym.
Because of this, the volume of that off-ball movement needs to couple most with a high-volume of possessions. Korver isn't a hide-in-the-corner and be a last resort type of scorer. He really is a guy who thrives on the rhythm of off-ball movement and having the ball in his hands a lot. It's precisely why Jerry Sloan had him coming off the bench without too many scorers. It was the only way to maintain a Usage Rate to where he can remain effective.
Putting him on the floor with Rose, Deng, and Carlos Boozer will kill that Usage Rate by taking the ball out of his hands in the first playing minutes that force him to need rest when the ball can be available. If the Bulls didn't have three pure scorers on the front line, there's an argument to start Korver. With three other options, it's a waste as his entire first half potential can get lost in the noise. It puts the ball in Korver's hands less, not more, times per game.
First quarter threes needs to be discouraged, not encouraged
There's a difference between Rose popping a jumper off a pick early in a game and Korver tossing up two-to-four threes. The difference is that Rose is doing so to punish defenders for sagging off to setup the inside-out offense when he's on the floor with Korver and/or Deng later in the game.
Korver taking those shots takes shots away from Rose, but worse, it's less times Rose punches the ball to Boozer to establish the low post and toss back to Boozer in the high post off of picks.
The first quarter is about creating high-percentage scoring opportunities in the halfcourt. If the action is forced, it's better to be forced by one of the best low post players in the game on the block than one of the most efficient three-point shooters in the game 24 feet from the basket.
Brewer's actually better for first quarter offense than Korver
Keith Bogans is shooting an abysmal .259 3P% taking 2.8 attempts per game. Most of those are in the first quarter. He's almost always wide open, too, because since Nov. 29, he's only hit 4-of-28 of those shots. The extra defender allows the opposition to challenge the Bulls better down low. Korver would occupy that fifth man, yes, but again the ball in his hands at that time is a negative for the other scorers applying a multi-faceted attack.
What's missing from the first quarter attack that fits with the strategy of getting the ball to the basket is Brewer's off-ball movement. He hides in corners and cuts to the basket very frequently with great timing. When there's no opportunity to get hit with the ball for an easy layup, he simply sets a screen and finds another spot to hide and cut again.
In Utah, Brewer was a staple starter in his last three seasons, averaging not only 12, 13.7, and 8.8 PPG in those respective seasons, but more importantly 4.9, 5.4, and 4.1 shots per game at the rim. Playing bench minutes this season, that number has gone down to 1.7 per game.
When the Bulls go higher with the bigs to give Rose better vision for the dribble penetration, Brewer serves as a better punishment to help defenders than Korver does for the opposition's man coverage or zones. When help is applied to those bigs, it's more efficient in the earlygame strategy to look for Brewer cutting to the rim for layups than kicking it out to Korver for a long-range jumper.
Brewer's defense better sets the Bulls preferred pace
The halfcourt offense is unavoidable in the first quarter and the ineptitude is most glaring at that time. It's why the Bulls need the highest percentage opportunities. This also slows down the Bulls to a pace that leads to sluggish defensive sequences and lazy jumpshots.
Brewer's aggressiveness is efficient at taking seconds off of opponents' shot clocks, creating loose balls, and getting the Bulls transition game going without anywhere-near high frequency of fouling. The fast breaks he creates allows for the Bulls to induce defenses to collapse even faster.
Then, Korver coming into games with four-to-five minutes remaining in the quarter punishes opponents and Brewer's fresh to start the second creating opportunities for Korver to score while Rose, Boozer and Deng rest.
Korver has a high amount of hustle, but he's a more frequent fouler in bench minutes than Brewer in starter minutes.
The goal is efficient energy on defense and getting to the rim on offense
There's the basketball adage: you rest on offense and play highest energy on defense. Korver's game is the opposite and best suited against bench units compared to how Brewer excels at this application with other scorers in the lineup, as the Bulls have.
Korver and Brewer's abilities to play the two and three, as well as man the point for five-to-eight seconds and move so well off the ball have made them assets to the Bulls. Korver's three-point shooting and Brewer's hustle show up in the box score and in opponents' fatigue on a nightly basis.
They both play best together, but Bogans can't stay in the starting lineup and not starting Deng is obviously not a serious option. Brewer's assets are better for starting the game and he can be rotated with Korver and Deng in a way that still gives Korver a lot of minutes with Brewer and with the other starting four in all four quarters where they're most needed.
This is nothing like past coaches not starting Ben Gordon
This is nowhere near the same situation or even comparable to that of when Ben Gordon was on the Bulls. Gordon never had three players already in the starting lineup capable of scoring more than him on every given night, three players capable of dropping 12 points in any first quarter. Gordon never had a low post ninja out of whose hands the high Usage Rate he needed would conflict.
Korver on the bench isn't a hockey situation of keeping lines deep, but it actually maximizes the efficiency of his and Boozer's usage. With the starters at the start of the game, it creates one-and-done offensive sequences or just wastes his minutes that are better used in the final minutes of the first quarter, the opening half or all of the second quarter, the second half of the third, and fresh enough from not wasting minutes in the first to be the comeback shooter in the fourth as a first or second option. If other players were as inept as the others on Gordon's rosters in Chicago, Thonus has a case. Here, not really.
Advanced Stats via Hoopdata.