John Lucas has been clutch, but C.J. Watson is your back up PG

John Lucas has been clutch, but C.J. Watson is your back up PG

With John Lucas coming in and willing the Bulls to victory against Miami, Orlando, and Toronto a bunch of questions have popped up about who should play backup PG for the Bulls once Derrick Rose comes back. C.J. Watson is the correct answer to this question.

Lucas deserves plenty of love for his play

John Lucas plays basketball like a wounded animal mother trapped in a corner protecting her babies. He’s not leaving a damn thing left on the floor when he walks off. Coming into this year, Lucas was on his last NBA legs, and if it weren’t for Thibodeau he may never have had another NBA opportunity. His entire career hangs in the balance of the few minutes he was going to receive this season for Chicago, and he’s played like it.

Fearless attitude, unlimited heart, and clutch performances have endeared Lucas to Bulls fans around the world. The term Lucasanity hasn’t quite turned into vogue, but he’s been an even more unlikely [if lesser] hero. He’s Jeremy Lin except in a 5’9 package that’s been waiting for seven years instead of one. With Lucas about to hit 30, the now or never theory looked like it was squarely pointing at never.

Granted, Lucas hasn’t performed to the level of Lin, but then again, his clutch performances led the Bulls over Miami and Orlando rather than a sequence of bottom feeders. His clutch performances have kept the Bulls on track for the #1 seed rather than hoping to make it to the eighth spot in the playoffs.

I love the Lucas story, and I’m thrilled with his play for the Bulls so far. Thibodeau has said [like all coaches] the next man has to step up when someone is hurt. It’s pretty tough to step up for Derrick Rose, but John Lucas has more or less accomplished that.

He’s still not your back up point guard

Saying the above, how can he not be? Quite simply, while I love the Lucas story, and i love what he’s done for Chicago this season, it’s all smoke and mirrors. His brand of offense has only yielded a 50.9% TS%, or in other words, despite all the big moments and all of the love, overall, he hasn’t scored all that efficiently.

On top of that, his style of offense lends itself to poor play. In his best hot streaks, John Lucas has become the pick up game player who gets the rebound at one end, dribbles up the floor to the other, dribbles around for 15 seconds then takes a shot without ever letting the ball leave his hands.

The only thing stopping fans from reaming him out is that the shot goes in, and we have so little confidence in the other shot creators on the team. His poor TS% (much like Watson’s 51.5%) is partially indicative of a guy who has to take a ton of tough bailout shots for his team.

The difference is that Watson gets the ball in the hands of more players each possession. Watson’s running the offense far more than Lucas. He isn’t dribbling at the top of the circle for 12 seconds at a time. He’s not floating back 10 feet behind the three point line in case the ball needs to swing back to him because he’s too scared someone with superior length will knock it away if he play sup closer.

He still takes the tough bailout shots, but he gives the offense a chance to work first. He puts pressure on the defense to defend the whole court.

In a seven game series, I don’t trust Lucas’s brand of basketball to continue to work. He’s been a tremendous three point shooter when he gets his feet set, but how long will teams continue to give him open threes? How many do you expect in the playoffs? C.J. has also been a tremendous shooter but has largely taken more difficult looks as he’s had more defensive attention.

Watson can also deliver far more on the defensive end of the court. While Lucas has been pesky on defense, in a longer series teams will find ways to take advantage of his weaknesses far more than they have so far. Lucas has been a great story, one that I hope continues to play out positively for Chicago, but it’s one with a limited shelf life. The weaknesses are too glaring, too ready to be taken advantage of. This is Jannero Pargo part two, it’s not sustainable.

Thank you John Lucas

Thank you for keeping this team afloat when it needed someone, anyone, to come in and be a leader. Thank you for the shot over LeBron which will be forever implanted in my memory. Thank you for your heart, your fearlessness, and your play. Thank you for being ready when called upon despite inconsistent minutes and opportunities.

You’ve exhilarated, entertained, and won. You’ve done everything we could possibly have asked and so much more. You’ve earned a contract next season [and perhaps for the first time there’s even bidding for your services], but when all is said and done, you still fit best as the emergency third string point guard.


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  • Bulls are a PG oriented team - but one of the clear strenghts of the team its the strong frontcourt. Now for the playoffs we sure could use a 3rd Center, to give adittional fouls and rebound few. Our rivals - Miami and Pacers - just got Turiaf and Fesenko. Don't understand how the Bulls missed any of those guys, or did we even try...? this will bite us later

  • In reply to mjorey:

    We lost out on the bigs because we don't have minutes to play them unless somebody gets hurt. As hard as it is to believe, guys aren't thrilled about collecting a paycheck to represent 6 fouls.

    Still, the Bulls have to pick someone up today for them to be on the playoff roster. It may be Oberto, Powe, or a D-Leaguer. Or they may just roll the dice with what they have.

  • In reply to Tyler Soze:

    As far as i understand Fesenko is 3rd Center on Pacers lineup as well. Wouldn't he prefer to spend the last 2 months of the season working on a real Championship Contender (sorry Pacers fans - maybe somehow in the future...). Turiaf is also not going to start. Heck, he might be behind Eddy Curry come playoffs time...

  • In reply to mjorey:

    Well, Fesenko, who I wanted the Bulls to sign as thier 5th big has been sitting home all year. My guess is that he not totally recovered from his injury and/or out of shape. He is a big physical guy, who exhibited some positive effect on team defensive stats when he played in the past.

  • Look, Lucas' play was so unexpected right? When something that unprecedented occurs people want a quick resolution or labeling of something. The instability or the, "gee what the hell is going on here?" reality is unacceptable from an order or stability standpoint.

    Doug's take on this seems to be the commons sense answer to the question about Lucas' possible ascencion.

    In reality, odds are Doug's CW take is probably correct. I say probably. In sports and life surprising events and people surprising the hell out of you does happen. A smart coach will not rush to judgement.

    Play an opportunity to your best advantage. If you use the pyschology of, Lucas 'streak' is just that, and undoubtedly C.J. will get most of the burn along with Ronnie. John Lucas will have to accept his role, and fade into the backdrop. Unless..

    Lucas needs to know he's earned a chance to continue to prove you and the CW wrong. For what he's done for the team in winning, I certainly give him the opportuntiy to play his was off the floor.

    Thibs, I think he has to tell JL3, "Look, the reality is C.J. is our back up PG along with his overall serious minutes on the court with Ronnie. However, if you can use your offense and your ability to get into the lane to involve others, you will play. Your offensive game has to be there. And we have confidence it can be. But you have to not only have that confidence and perfrom, but you must involve others.

    We have to find a way to get you passing the ball effectively when that double team comes. The team overall benefitting from your presence on the court, that's what a Chicago Bulls player, and a winning player does. Can you be that guy? Let's go John.

  • I disagree with Doug here. While I agree that CJ can be a better defender, CJ is not a better playmaker. Even CJ looks for his own shot most of the time and the only thing he gets aggressively into the defender and gets a lot of offensive foul calls. JL3 can also pass to the next guy if Thibs demands it "8" sec into the shot clock as CJ does a lot of times.
    And if there is a backup PG out there on the other team, JL3 can usually guard them just as CJ(such as Norris Cole, AJ Price, Lou Williams, even Lin).
    The big advantage JL3 has over CJ is fearlessness and making/taking shots at clutch/needed times and making them at a better percentage. And, it might not work for a team like Miami or NY but it absolutely works for the Bulls. That's what the Bulls need. If CJ was half of Chris Paul or Kidd type in setting up others with vision, I would take it. But, he is not and he is a shoot first PG himself.

  • That's a very good way to put it RoadWarrior! I doubt, but hope, Thibs says it like that because JL3 has won games for us but I highly doubt it will continue especially in the playoffs. He is a shoot 1st PG, really a super short SG in this situation where he is fearless and takes the shot...but at the same time just about anyone who is wide open needs to do so you can't blame him too much for that either. As long as his shot is falling and he is open and doesn't have much of anything else going on with other players open or in better positions to score he should shoot, but also work the shot clock better too! He has been a welcomed surprise and is making it more bearable to have Rose and RIP out and Deng nursing his injury but playing big minutes still!

  • I love JL3's touch and his shot is so fluid. He's a confident player and I think the Bulls could use another player with that kinda mentality at the two but with more size obviously. He has the fearless gene.

    I don't know what you mean it's all smoke and mirrors though?

    Watson on the other hand has been inconsistent in his his play this season.

    But yeah you have to keep Watson in the backup role because he's a better defender. JL3 is a nice option when CJ isn't clicking like in Toronto.

  • Another guard in the mix should be Jimmy Butler. He's hit one late game jumper when it counted, and now made a three. Whoopee! But his scouting reports say his final year his mid range shot/game was much improved and at the Portsmouth Invitational prior to the draft, the guy was canning mid range J's left and right as the MVP.

    He's a bench guy most likely, and not a prolific scorer let alone shooter. Still, the guy shot 50% on threes one year averaging one a game. His free throws 77, 76, and 78%(rounded off). Not bad at all.

    I'm just not convinced Butler can't shoot a little, and perhaps develop his jump shot more as time goes on. His defense looks second only to Deng's on big time wings like James and Melo. As we all have pleaded, I really wish Thibs would find some minutes at the two and three for Mr. Butler. He could be that playoff spark or answer the team might need at some point if Deng or Ronnie get in foul trouble etc.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    If Bulls do advance deep in the playoffs it will be due in large part to contributions from The Bench Mob - and different people stepping up in different games, neither we (nor Thibs) can predict whom will step up.

    Bulls do not have 3 legitimate all-stars to rely upon to crush the opposition - overall our starters do not have transcendent talent. Depth is Bulls greatest asset and must be used for them to succeed.

  • One other thing, with April 10th(?) now the deadline for college players to stay in school or opt for the draft. It will be interesting to see who all leaves for the pros and fill up the mock draft boards. People are saying this could be a deep draft not with stars but good starters and rotation players. BTW somebody referred to certain people thinking they are draft 'experts' I hope that wasn't referring to me. Not to be defensive, but while I love following prospects and the draft, I enjoy it is all and discussing it. Hope I have not been arrogant in stating my thoughts in that regard. I joked the Bulls know just a little more then me, meaning really they are the pros, and I just do it for fun.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    I did the comment on the "draft expert" comment. No offense meant though. It is great to read reviews/perspective of future prospects. All I meant is after following the draft experts/reviews, most of the predictions is crap-shoot basically and it is almost like a flip of the coin in most cases. If NBA GMs make so many mistakes, how can anybody with limited resources claim success as an expert. That said, I enjoy reading reviews though.

    In all, it is a blog where you can give opposing reviews/opinions and don't have to be shouted down/yelled at as if that opinion is some kind of criminal mistake(everybody on this blog obviously is giving their opinion) and acting as if their opinion matters the most or is always correct. There are a few guys who act like fools and try to drown out any differing opinions instead of having a discussion. It is upto Doug to figure out how/what to do with those kind of posters (trolls) and there is no point in responding to such posters or feeding the trolls.

  • Not that I want it to be true, but why hasn't anyone speculated on the chance of Rose being done for the year? Anyone ever have a groin injury? A groin that you can't run on and are being described as shuffling on...

    I currently have a mild groin strain, it's been 5 months and barely healed a lick. If this is the case then JL3 is the backup point guard.

  • I've listened to all these things about C.J. Watson, but since he's been on this team, I'll say here and now his main fault is that he's not a team player. If you're going to aspire to a role like backup point guard, you'd better not be a ball hog.
    I say this because sharing the ball is what makes this team special. All you people here, I'll suggest you observe carefully the play of C.J. Watson when he's in the game. His primary concern is to look for his shot.
    I'll also tell you that Joakim Noah hates him. He's the only player who freezes Noah out of the flow of the game and I'm beginning to believe it's deliberate because Noah's the only player he does it to. Maybe he envies Noah's proclivity to make great decisions and the big play. Noah's skill as a ball handler was born as a point guard on the streets and playgrounds of New York and New Jersey, before he outgrew the position.
    This behavior on the part of C.J. Watson could be detrimental in big games. Sure, he's a gunner! But we don't want a gunner in big, crucial situations, we need someone with a sound head on his shoulders

  • I think y'all might be missing the point (no pun intended...). I think JL3 is the New Microwave! (Everyone remembers Vinny Johnson, yes?) He has provided instant offense when almost all other offensive options on the Bulls have been sputtering. We've struggled for three games now to put the ball in the net, and Lucas basically set us up to win the games against Miami and Orlando. In Canada, no-one else had any offense, and he'd been missing shots during his first-half stint. But second half, you saw, he brought the Bulls back into the game in under a minute. He doesn't need consistent minutes if he doesn't have a consistent role - instead, bring him on for spot minutes at unpredictable times, get a heat-check, turn him loose if the microwave comes on. It's one more offensive weapon for occasional use from the bench, and we can use all of those! Besides, I'd like to see Thibs become a little more unpredictable... what am I talking, six minutes a game? Maybe the last two minutes of each quarter, perhaps with Derrick moving to shooting guard? C'mon, let's get creative here!

  • In reply to petert23:

    I think you have a valid point there. I remember the "microwave." He was a real gunner and never pretended to be anything else. Came in, performed his hit job and departed! I prefer him to the pretender, C.J. Watson. John Lucas 3 could be the new Microwave!

  • When you mention an established guys name or a HOF'ers name in regards to a new player or newly emerging player people always have a cow. The point is not that he will be of the stature or level of a VJ, but that he is fitting into a similar role, a scoring microwave to be utilized when he 'heats up.' I thought of the same thing, mannerisms of a Starks, the role of a Vinnie J.

  • I'm glad CJ isn't getting much love here. He's been very overrated for the Bulls. 37% from the field last year. 37%!

  • Doug is likely correct for the rest of this season and the playoffs.

    However, the Bulls face money(tax) decisions going into next season. With Rose's extention kicking in, the Bulls will be over the tax line by at least $10 million, even before resigning Asik, over $15 million if they keep Asik.

    Watson, Brewer and Korver are all in jeopardy of not being resigned/retained. I would say that Brewer is a certain goner, replaced by Butler. Watson the cheapest of the 3 could be replaced by the still cheaper Lucas.

    The toughest call will be on Korver, is his role worth $10 million per(5 in salary, 5 in tax). If you keep Korver, then keeping Watson puts you into the second tier of the tax, making Watson also a $10 million per guy. It comes down to a choice of keeping Asik first, then Korver v. Watson v a lot more of Jerry's money.

    My guess is that the Bulls value what Korver gives us more than the difference between Watson and Lucas. I could see all three being gone, but given Hamilton's fragility keeping Korver and going $5 million into the tax seems Reinsdoable.

    If Lucas keeps this up for the rest of the season, he may be playing himself into being Watson's replacement for next season, it may be fools gold, but I could see the Bulls thinking that way for cap/tax purposes anyway.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Good points...The Bulls also might draft a PG who is a better athlete and has a better build than JL3 to backup Rose(if CJ is gone). That is if they do not find a shot creating SG through the draft which I think might be their first priority.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    As I mentioned, imo, Bulls salary problems lie with the contracts of Boozer and Deng, not with extending Asik and Taj for MLE type money similar to what Brewer/Korver/Watson are getting. So I think Bulls may pay luxury tax for a year or two as they try to dispose of Boozer and Deng’s massive 8-figure contracts.

    How far Bulls advance in the playoffs and who performs well will factor in, but if any of Brewer/Korver/Watson are released, those roster spots still have to be filled by someone as 13 players is the roster minimum.

    With frail Rip Hamilton under guaranteed contract as the SG for next season, I don’t see how Bulls can release any of Brewer/Korver/Watson. Bulls need a replacement for frail Hamilton before they can let any of those 3 guys go. OK, maybe they release one if Jimmy Butler is relied upon – but if that is the plan, why the hell aren’t they playing Jimmy Butler?

    I hate that stupid Derrick Rose Rule!!! It penalizes the team.

  • In reply to Edward:

    You and me both on the Derrick Rose rule. Maybe the first part of it is that it really was a fix to a problem that doesn't exist. Superstars are leaving their current teams for greener pastures AFTER their first big contract. They want to secure that first payday.The DRose rule entices them to stay for that second contract after their rookie one expires and that problem isn't a problem.

  • In reply to Edward:

    Yes, Boozer's contract, and to a lesser extent Deng's are the structural problems facing the bulls salary cap/tax wise.

    Unfortunately, not being able to resign/retain other players(Asik, Taj, Korver, Watson, Brewer) is the only solution, until either Deng or more likely Boozer is amnestitized.

    They let them go in this order, Brewer, Watson, Korver, Taj and lastly Asik. I would bet that by the start of the 2013-14 season, only Asik and Taj will still be Bulls. Although, by the summer of 2013 we could be choosing between Rip and Korver, if Korver survives this summer.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I agree with you that Bulls will keep Taj and Asik.
    Those were GREAT draft picks at 26 and 36 and I don't see Bulls letting them get away because of temporary luxury tax problems due to Boozer and Deng's contracts.

    I get the Brewer - Butler substitution. But I don't know who Bulls are going to get as a backup PG as good as Watson for $3.5 million. Only thing cheaper is a rookie contract (like Jimmy Butler or Taj) or a vet minimum.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I agree Butler will probably end up meaning the end of Brewer first ... a bit of a shame, since I think Brewer is easily the best of the Brewer/Korver/Watson trio, but it is what it is.

    Also this is supposedly a deep draft, finding a 3 point specialist to replace Korver or a point guard to replace Watson, even with the Bulls looking like they'll have pick 30, doesn't seem out of the question.

    If they can lose Brewer & Korver and bring Asik back on a MLE or lower deal they can retain Watson and not have to amnesty Boozer for another year. I'd be very surprised if something like that wasn't the plan, although it relies on no team getting stupid and offering Asik big money ... which has been known to happen with centers.

    After that though it gets pretty difficult to see a path for the Bulls to retain Boozer without paying the tax. So he's surely a goner after next year.

  • maybe the Bulls are looking at tall combo guards(6'5") that can play sg and backup pg in the draft. But I have a feeling they will continue to draft powerforwards/centers. It's like every other year we draft a powerforward. I know you need size to win but you won't get very far without ball handlers/shooters/creators on the perimeter.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    You mean guys like Marshon Brooks.

  • A little supposed inside info on the Bulls thinking before the trade deadline and going forward. Maybe if/when they flame out against Miami in the playoffs, they will be as disgusted as the fans and not nearly as patient as they were last year.

    Chicago's talks with the Los Angeles Lakers regarding Pau Gasol before the trade deadline never got too far, largely because the Lakers had no interest in taking back Carlos Boozer ... and because the Bulls weren't about to find a third team willing to join the talks to absorb the three years and $47 million remaining on Boozer's deal to help Chicago get the Spaniard.

    File this away, though.

    Sources with knowledge of Chicago's thinking told that Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf was prepared last week to go into the luxury tax if necessary if a legit trade scenario involving Gasol had materialized.

    Which suggests that the Bulls, if they're that high on Pau, are bound to try to trade for him again.

    Nor have they abandoned hope of courting Dwight Howard via trade, sources said, despite Howard's longstanding coolness toward the idea of relocating to Chicago and the extra season he just committed to Orlando by opting in for the 2012-13 season.

  • I'm surprised I haven't seen this mentioned yet, but Thibs was asked about Lucas in the Toronto postgame and he alluded to wanting to go to a small lineup at times. He said something like, "Well, Rose and CJ haven't been able to work off each other so well but Lucas and CJ have been a good combo for us."

    So, there's another possible answer to that situation. And it's a good one I think, especially with Rip continually hurt and Brewer starting. CJ/Lucas/Korver...Bench Mob 2.0 y'all!

  • from what I read, the Bulls were willing to make a legit trade for Gasol but the Lakers were being greedy. I think they wanted Noah, Gibson and 2 first round picks. Gasol is past his prime, why do you think the Lakers are trying to get rid of him? No way should the Bulls give away that much but it was good to know that reiny was willing to go into the lux tax. One thing to look for is when Boozer's contract expires is the same time Kevin Love can opt out of his contract and become a free agent. Screw Howard and the Lakers, the Bulls will have many options in the years to come.

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