Chicago Bulls Report Card: Grades for All Key Players Through First Trimester
Wow, it is hard to believe a third of the NBA season is already gone.
I mean, it seems like the Bulls were tipping off the season against the Lakers on Christmas a few days ago. Seriously, I haven't even finished putting my Christmas decorations away yet and they are announcing the starters for the All-Star game.
By the way, since we are on the subject, Derrick Rose was named to his third All-Star team and will be making his second consecutive start.
The Bulls have already played 25 games, with their 26th coming Saturday night in Milwaukee. That means Chicago only has 40 games left to play.
With a record of 19-6, the Bulls are top in the East and only trail the Thunder in winning percentage. Oklahoma City has a record of 18-4.
So let's see who has performed well during this first third of the season, and let's see who needs to pick it up the rest of the way.
I only focus on major players, so you won't find grades for Jimmy Butler, Brian Scalabrine or the recently released Mike James.
John Lucas III
I'm going to be very honest, I did not want John Lucas III on this team.
I know he is only the third point guard and shouldn't really matter on a team that has Derrick Rose and a very capable backup in C.J. Watson, but boy was I wrong.
Who would have ever thought that Lucas would have started two games this season considering he only played in two all of last season?
If you say you knew he was capable of that 25-point, eight-rebound and eight-assist effort against the Wizards, I'm calling you a liar.
Lucas has proved he is able to run the offense, and for that I'm giving him a passing grade of a C.
Offensively, it is hard not to give Kyle Korver an A, but I'm going to give him a B+.
He is nearly shooting as well from beyond the arc as he is overall from the field. One reason for that is because nearly all his shots come from long distance.
On the season he is shooting under 43 percent from three-point-land while hitting on just over 43 percent of all of his shots.
However, you can't talk about his offensive without also talking about his defense—and it is a completely different story.
Defensively, I don't know if anyone could give Korver anything but an F. His defensive issues have only become more glaring now that he is starting with Luol Deng and Rip Hamilton is out.
If Korver could even play decent defensive, he would find himself on the court a lot more and it would make the Bulls a much better team.
Averaging that B+ and F is going to give Korver a C-.
Omer Asik is like the complete opposite of Kyle Korver—all defense and very little offense.
Asik continues to show he is a rebounding machine and is up to the task against almost any big in the league. He did have some trouble the other night matched up against Amar'e Stoudemire.
However, the Hack-Asik is proving to be pretty effective since he is shooting only 39 percent from the free throw line.
If it isn't a dunk, Asik has a hard time scoring.
But again, Tom Thibodeau isn't expecting Asik to score, so I'm giving him a C so far.
C.J. Watson is going to be a starting point guard in this league sooner or later.
The Bulls couldn't ask for anymore in their backup to Derrick Rose.
He is hitting on nearly 47 percent of his three-pointers and is averaging 10 points a game off the bench. His number might even have been better if he hadn't missed 10 games already this season.
With Rip Hamilton out, we have even started to see a little bit of Watson playing alongside Rose, which has been fun to watch so far.
I'm going to give Watson a B, and if it wasn't for all the heavy minutes Rose plays, he could possibly make a run at sixth man of the year.
The way people talk about Taj Gibson you would think he was blowing Carlos Boozer out of the water with his numbers, but he isn't.
In 19 minutes of action he is averaging just over seven points and just over four rebounds. He is, however, leading the team with 1.6 blocks per game.
Gibson is a good solid power forward who many teams would be happy to have starting on their team.
Lately an injured ankle has slowed him, but even before that his numbers haven't been overly impressive. He has only had double digit rebounds once this season.
I think I might be grading him a little harsh, but I'm giving him a C.
If they give out a team most improved player, then it would go to Ronnie Brewer, hands down.
All we heard about during training camp was how much work Ronnie Brewer put into his shot, and it shows.
Shooting 30 percent from the field isn't very impressive, but when it is up from 22 percent it is.
Brewer wanted to earn that starting shooting guard spot if the Bulls didn't add anyone. Well they added Rip Hamilton, but the funny thing is Brewer has started 17 of the 25 games so far this season.
His 20-point, 10-rebound and five-assist performance against the Pacers was probably his best game in a Bulls uniform.
I'm giving Brewer a solid B.
It is very hard to grade Rip Hamilton.
There is no denying his production when he is healthy and playing. Just look at what he did against the Nets when he scored 22 points while adding 10 assists and four rebounds.
However, he has only played in 11 of the team's first 25 games.
Like I said, his impact on the court is undeniable, but if he can't stay healthy to be on the court, it doesn't matter. Based on his play I'd give him a B+, but since he hasn't proven to be healthy, he gets an incomplete.
Joakim Noah is one of the few players who greatly benefited from me grading at this point and not earlier.
In the last 10 games he have seen the Noah we in Chicago have come to know and love.
He has also cut down on all those stupid fouls he was committing early in the season.
I am giving Noah a B- but very close to a B because finally he is starting to look like the player the Bulls gave that big contract extension to.
I don't think there is a more talked about player on this current Bulls team.
There seems to be no middle ground when it comes to Carlos Boozer. Either you hate him and want him out of town, which seems to be the majority, or you appreciate he might not be exactly what you wanted but does produce.
He is averaging just less than 15 points per game, which is third on the team, and 8.6 rebounds, which is second to only Noah. Both are well below his averages of 17.2 points and 10 rebounds per game for his career.
However, just like Noah, he has been much improved over the last 10 games and is nearly averaging his career numbers.
Now he is never going to be a defensive player and we all know or should know that by now. All the Bulls look for is that his offense offsets some of what he gives up.
I personally have accepted Boozer for what he is and am very encouraged by how him and Noah have produced lately.
Therefore, I see no reason but to give him the same grade as Noah, which is a B-.
If you aren't convinced about how valuable Luol Deng is to the Bulls, check out this article I wrote earlier in the week.
He is second on the team in points, third in rebounding, first in steals and first in minutes.
Also don't forget he usually draws the toughest defensive assignment each and every night.
If not for this wrist injury, he was a sure lock to make his first A-star appearance this season. It is still not out of the question he could make the team if he returns soon.
Luol Deng is getting my first A, and I think we all know the next guy is probably getting the second one.
How do I not give the reigning MVP an A?
With every season, he continues to improve.
His assists are up, his turnovers are down and I'm sure his three-point shooting percentage would be better if he stopped chucking up threes at the end of every quarter.
Oh, did I forget to mention he has started to focus much more on defense?
The job he did on Chris Paul early in the season was great.
The best point guard in the league just continues to get better, and all of Chicago loves when he gets angry.
Just wait till this team is healthy and see what he can do. It is going to be a lot of fun.
Rose and the Bulls overall get an A.