changes tom thibodeau should make to the bulls' rotation
This team is becoming a little unbearable. Dunleavy popping his jersey, Taj having the expectation they can just show up & win... #ORLvsCHI— The Bulls Charge (@thebullscharge) December 17, 2013
Deng & Boozer just firing away and playing uninspired on defense, Teague, lazy defense, Jo's lack of energy. It's disappointing #ORLvsCHI— The Bulls Charge (@thebullscharge) December 17, 2013
I like most every player on this roster, but they aren't carrying themselves like the Chicago Bulls have under Tom Thibodeau #ORLvsCHI— The Bulls Charge (@thebullscharge) December 17, 2013
Here are my proposed changes to the Bulls rotation:
Starting Five: DJ Augustin, Tony Snell, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah
This is a pretty radical change. You're subtracting two current starters (Kirk Hinrich and my man, Jimmy Butler) for a guy that the Bulls literally picked up off the streets in DJ Augustin and a rookie in Tony Snell. The Bulls need offense in the starting five. Augustin gives the offense a little bit of what Derrick Rose gave this offense and frankly, what this offense was built around: quickness, a penetrating point guard, drive and kick. If DJ Augustin settles in around 14 pts, 6 assists (basically, what he did with Charlotte) and can shoot about 45%? That's not bad for a guy on a minimum deal. Tony Snell provides that long-range touch and solid defense. He already had a solid stint with the Bulls' starting group. In 8 games as a starter, Snell averaged 10 pts, 45% FG, 37.5% 3pt in 27 minutes of play. That's not bad. Could Thibs play him "Bogans minutes" - i.e. 6-8 minute stints in the first and third quarters with spotty minutes in between? Why not give the rookie some experience? He's shown he can handle it. He's a good three-point shooter already, a more natural shooter than Butler, and can spread the floor for Deng, Boozer, and Noah to work in the paint. I think it's a worthy risk.
Why does Kirk Hinrich get booted from the starting lineup? Because it's time. I have enjoyed Kirk's second run with the Bulls, but he's been abominable lately. He really looks like he's lost all confidence in his jumpshot and his scoring ability in general. That whole "get all the way to the rim and dribble under the basket and back out" maneuver is really annoying and so pathetic. Just go up, Kirk! The Bulls have enough offensive difficulty with Kirk Hinrich refusing to assert himself or at least attempt to. Maybe playing on the bench with a the group of Taj, Dunleavy, and Butler would allow him to play more naturally as a spot-up shooter and a floor general.
As for Butler, this is probably a surprise to many of you that follow me on Twitter. I'm a Butlermaniac. I love Jimmy Butler. He's probably my favorite current Bulls player. I truly believe he will be something special in this league. But here's something I'm noticing: You can't have Jimmy Butler and Luol Deng on the court together. Offensively, it's redundant. They do the same things and need to operate in the same space. It's not effective. Deng is more polished offensively and a veteran, so he gets the nod. There are three ways Jimmy Butler can be a scoring option. The first is a spot-up three-point shooter. Watch as Butler feeds Taj Gibson in the post and then gradually rotates around the perimeter (with a well-timed screen from Mike Dunleavy) and is open for an easy three:
The last video shows another of Jimmy's quality traits: He knows how to drive and draw contact. This year, Jimmy Butler is averaging four free-throw attempts per game. We don't see much of his dribbling ability, but watch as he utilizes a quick first step to beat his man off the dribble, causing his man to play catch-up, and foul Jimmy sending him to the line:
So, with Kirk and Jimmy to the bench, it makes the bench unit look like this:
Bench Mob 3.0: Kirk Hinrich, Mike Dunleavy Jr., Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, Nazr Mohammed
A pretty solid bench, which has always been one of Chicago's strengths. This is a bench that could command large stretches of the game and change the momentum, just like the original Bench Mob used to.
Let's be clear about something: There is something drastically wrong with a rotation if Luol Deng is playing 42 minutes in a December game against the Orlando Magic. Deng typically plays weird stretches - usually the entire first quarter and then til the 6 or 7 minute mark of the second quarter and then rests the remainder of the half. What a stupid rotation. Here's how I would play the rotation:
DJ Augustin: 7 minutes in 1st/3rd quarters, 6 minutes in 2nd/4th quarters. Total: 26 minutes
Tony Snell: 7 minutes in 1st/3rd quarters. Total: 14 minutes
Luol Deng: 8 minutes in 1st/3rd quarters, 10 minutes in 2nd/4th quarters. Total: 36 minutes
Carlos Boozer: 7 minutes in 1st/3rd quarters, 7 minutes in 2nd/4th quarters. Total: 28 minutes
Joakim Noah: 8 minutes in 1st/3rd quarters, 8 minutes in 2nd/4th quarters. Total: 32 minutes
Kirk Hinrich: 5 minutes in 1st/3rd quarters, 6 minutes in 2nd/4th quarters. Total: 22 minutes
Mike Dunleavy Jr.: 5 minutes in 1st/3rd quarters, 4 minutes in 2nd/4th quarters. Total: 18 minutes
Jimmy Butler: 4 minutes in 1st/3rd quarters, 9 minutes in 2nd/4th quarters. Total: 30 minutes
Taj Gibson: 5 minutes in 1st/3rd quarters, 9 minutes in 2nd/4th quarters. Total: 28 minutes
Nazr Mohammed: 4 minutes in 1st/3rd quarters. Total: 8 minutes
That's just a general framework, but obviously there's room for variance. For instance, you could play Dunleavy more than Butler to provide more shooting or you could play Snell a few more minutes a game for that same reason. One big key here is Deng and Boozer are always on the floor with the other bench players providing an extra scoring option. Also, it limits guys from playing huge minutes, which would hopefully reduce the risk of injury. Deng is still playing the most minutes at 36, but only two other guys eclipsed 30 under this plan.
I'm not sure if Thibs will ever entertain something this drastic. He's loyal to his veterans and he has his certain guys that he grows enchanted with. But this isn't the time to be stubborn. What's happening now isn't working and it's ugly to watch. This team is coasting. This team needs a wakeup call and they need to realize they aren't just entitled to make the playoffs each year. If this team is truly committed to competing this year, they need to make changes. What's the worst that could happen? They embarrass themselves? They've already done that. This is rock bottom. The Bulls can only go up from here.