Chicago Bulls: Grading Each Key Player's 2012 Campaign
After their win over the New Jersey Nets on Monday night, the Chicago Bulls improved their league-best record to 21-6. The 2011-12 season is approaching the halfway mark, which means it’s a great time to grade each player’s 2011-12 campaign through the first 27 games of the season.
To qualify for a grade, a player must be averaging at least 10 minutes a game. So anyone looking for Brian Scalabrine ("The White Mamba") or Jimmy Butler’s grade will have to wait another day.
John Lucas appeared in two games for the Chicago Bulls last season, playing for the first time since the 2006-07 season with the Houston Rockets.
But Lucas is proving this season he can be a mainstay in a contending team’s rotation, averaging career highs in minutes (12) and points (six).
If one was to base Omer Asik’s grade on statistics alone, it wouldn’t do the seven-foot Turk justice.
Coming off the bench, Asik provides the Bulls with size and toughness in the paint—something all championship hopefuls need.
Working as Derrick Rose’s primary backup in his second season with the Chicago Bulls, C.J. Watson has his highest scoring average since 2009-10 and is currently averaging a career high in assists (3.8).
Much like Omer Asik, Taj Gibson’s impact cannot be measured by statistics alone. Thankfully, Gibson and Asik have provided enough energy and physicality in the middle to make up for the slow start from Joakim Noah.
Through the first 27 games of the 2011-12 season, Kyle Korver’s overall statistics are almost identical to the ones he finished with at the end of last season.
Given the fact Korver is relied upon for one thing and one thing only (three-point shooting), it’s fairly easy to grade his performance one way or another.
The former Creighton Bluejay is shooting a slightly higher percentage from the field and three-point range than he did last season.
Bulls fans can only hope the improvement continues once the playoffs begin, unlike last season, when Korver’s overall play went south once the calendar turned from April to May.
With Richard Hamilton in and out of the lineup this season nursing groin and leg injuries, Ronnie Brewer has stepped up admirably for the Chicago Bulls this season. The team knows it will always get a good effort from Brewer, whether he is coming off the bench or playing in the starting lineup.
Until we know if "Rip" will ever be able to produce at full strength this season, it will remain even more of a mystery if the Bulls can win in the playoffs without their prized offseason acquisition.
Chicago Bulls fans were celebrating this offseason when the team signed Richard Hamilton to fill their void at the shooting guard position. Many think he could possibly be the difference in the team making and winning the Eastern Conference Finals.
Unfortunately, most of Rip’s time this season has been spent on the bench rather than the court, thanks to groin and leg injuries.
In the 11 games Hamilton has played, he has averaged 14 points, in addition to shooting 45 percent from the field.
Given the aforementioned injuries, it’s hard to give Hamilton a grade at this point.
Grade: I (Incomplete)
If there’s one Chicago Bull who has suffered the most from the lockout-shortened schedule, it’s been Joakim Noah. Noah looked out of shape to start the season and his overall production has seen a decline as a result.
Noah’s averages in points, blocks and rebounds have all declined this season.
If the Bulls have any hopes of getting past the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference, they will need Noah to be at the top of his game.
Last season, Carlos Boozer received some criticism from both fans and pundits for not playing up to expectations in his first season with the Chicago Bulls. Most of the criticism came during the playoffs, when Boozer's scoring average dropped from 17 to 12 and his field-goal percentage dropped from 51 percent to 43.
This season, Boozer’s numbers are slightly down from last season's, averaging 14 points and eight rebounds through 27 games.
It’s my opinion the Bulls won’t get much more from Boozer than what they have seen through his first season and a half with the team. It's not from a lack of effort, but just because he is not much better than what his numbers indicate.
Luol Deng has been the Chicago Bulls’ second-best player this season behind Derrick Rose, despite missing two weeks with a wrist injury.
Deng has a chance to make his first All-Star team this season, as he's averaging 16 points, seven rebounds and two assists.
The reigning league MVP is up to his old tricks this season, averaging 23 points, eight assists and three rebounds.
While those numbers are slightly down from last season’s MVP campaign, Derrick Rose has led the Bulls to the best record in the NBA (21-6) and should be in the MVP discussion come springtime.