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Chicago Bulls Should Keep Mike James over John Lucas III

CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 16: Mike James #8 of the Chicago Bulls moves against Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics at the United Center on February 16, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Celtics 89-80. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Bob BajekAnalyst IIIDecember 28, 2016

While Derrick Rose suffers through various injuries, the Bulls have played John Lucas III and Mike James significant minutes at the point guard spot.

James' stellar offensive and defensive performance against the Boston Celtics shows he is a more valuable member to the Bulls than Lucas.

Not to be confused with LeBron, the lesser known James posted eight points, four assists and a block in 17 minutes of play in Thursday's 89-80 win over Boston. James played the final 10 minutes before fouling out with 41 seconds left.

The 36-year-old James dished two key assists during the Bulls' 12-0 run to make it 81-69. When the Celtics closed the gap to 84-78, the Duquesne product drove the lane and kicked it out to  Luol Deng. The wide open Deng then buried a trey from the left corner to seal the deal.

Besides James' solid offense, he slowed down Celtics' star Rajon Rondo with good defense.

Rondo was taking advantage of Lucas with solid post-up moves, so Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau wanted to change defenders with six minutes left in the first half.

"Thibs" gave James that call.

What James proceeded to do was impressive, blocking Rondo's shot and making Boston's point guard work for his points. James helped contain Rondo to 17 points, down from Sunday's triple-double effort where he collected 32 points.

James played big against a big opponent, something Lucas hasn't done consistently. A journeyman NBA D-Leaguer, Lucas has posted up impressive numbers only against weak competition like the Washington Wizards (25 points but on 11-of-28 shooting), Sacramento Kings (nine points, nine assists) and the Charlotte Bobcats (11 points).

However, Lucas struggled against the Boston Celtics on Feb. 12 (3-of-9 shooting), the Philadelphia 76ers (four minutes, zero points, one turnover) and the Miami Heat (three minutes, zero points, LeBron James posterizing dunk).

James processes many advantages over Lucas.

He is bigger (6'2", 188 pounds) than Lucas (5'11", 165 pounds), destroying the size disadvantage Lucas creates and curbing LBJ-like baseline jams.

James has way more NBA experience than Lucas, being a 10-year vet who has played 532 games while starting 263 and averaging 10.4 points per contest. Likewise, the 29-year-old Lucas has competed in 84 games and started two, averaging 3.8 points a night.

The hardwood demonstrates James' superiority over Lucas.

James averages 5.0 points, 3.8 assists and has a player efficiency level of 20.16. Lucas collects 5.9 points, 1.9 assists and has a PER of 14.86. This doesn't even count shooting efficiency, as James nails 46.7 percent of his shots, opposed to Lucas' 39.2 percent.

When Rose regains his health, one of these players will be up for the chopping block again.

James was cut once, but the Bulls should consider his size, experience and effective play when making that decision. Those measuring characteristics show James to be a superior baller to Lucas.

The Bulls, if they re-evaluate their decision properly, would definitely retain James and cut Lucas.

 

Bob Bajek is a featured columnist for the Chicago Bulls. He is also a freelance reporter and can be followed on Patch.com and Twitter.

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