Chicago Bulls: Why Next Year's 'Bench Mob' Is Even Stronger Than Last Season
For the last two seasons, Chicago Bulls fans have been able to brag about having the deepest bench in the NBA. However, during this offseason, the front office felt it was time to offload contracts and retool their feared "Bench Mob."
The trade of three-point specialist Kyle Korver to Atlanta and the unwillingness to resign Bench Mob staples like Ronnie Brewer and CJ Watson left many Bulls fans scratching their heads.
Relax! I'm here to tell you don't panic because next year's Bench Mob will be even better than last season's.
*Note: This is based off of having Derrick Rose in the starting lineup because Kirk Hinrich and Marquis Teague will be back to bench roles once he returns.
Newly reacquired point guard Kirk Hinrich
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One of the knocks on the beloved Bench Mob over the last two seasons had been their inability to score with any sort of consistency. This year's retooling of the Bulls bench brings much improved scoring ability while still keeping defense a priority.
Kirk Hinrich decided to come back to the Chicago Bulls after a stint in Atlanta. He will more than likely step in for former MVP Derrick Rose until he can return from a torn ACL suffered against Philadelphia in the first round of the playoffs. While to start the year he won't be on the bench I'll still give the bench the benefit of the doubt here.
Hinrich brings with him plenty of NBA experience and has always been an above-average three point shooter. He is more known for his feisty style of defense that often leaves opposing point guards very upset. He figures to be a key member of the new and improved Bench Mob this season.
The departure of Kyle Korver left the Bulls without their best long ball shooter. The Bulls front office knew that they needed to replace Korver and they signed not one, but two perimeter threats. Marco Belinelli and Vladimir Radmanovic give the Bulls more options off the bench. Both players have shot at right around the 40% mark on three pointers for their careers. This will make the loss of Kyle "Hot Sauce" Korver a little easier to handle.
The Bulls also brought in reliable vets Nazr Mohammed and Nate Robinson to solidify the rest of the Bench.
And we can't forget the only remaining pieces from last season's Bench Mob, Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler. Both players have made strides in improving their offensive games and could be staples of the second unit.
Depth on the Front Line
Veteran center Nazr Mohammed
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The Houston Rockets came out of nowhere to offer Bulls backup center Omer Asik a three-year $25 million dollar offer sheet. The Bulls decided Asik was not worth what the Rockets wanted to pay him and they let him walk.
This upset many Bulls fan who felt Asik was one of the few defensive forces in the NBA. But it's not all for nothing, as the Bulls went out and signed OKC backup center Nazr Mohammed. He was primarily used to relieve starters Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka of the Thunder.
He has always been a reliable defensive player over his 14-year career. He is not Omer Asik good, but not many are when it comes to defense. Mohammed will end up playing the Asik role of giving Joakim Noah a breather while holding down the defense.
The addition of Vladimir Radmanovic also adds a dimension the Bulls didn't have, as he is a big shooting power-forward who will help stretch the defense. It wouldn't be out of the question to see him occasionally playing with Carlos Boozer to allow Booz more room to work with in the paint.
And again, last but not least, Taj Gibson. Gibson is a fantastic defender who plays the game with immense passion. He is consistently locking down opposing teams' power forwards and centers.
His offensive game should grow even more this year and he could end up earning himself a big pay day, either with the Bulls or another team.
Good Young Blood
Backup small forward Jimmy Butler
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The Bulls spent one of their two first-round picks in the 2011 NBA draft on small forward Jimmy Butler out of Marquette. As a rookie, Butler saw limited playing time as Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau had his rotation already in place.
The 6'7" Butler played well in four summer league games scoring 23+ points in three out of four games. He also put up 6.5 rebounds per game to add to his solid scoring output. This is promising for the Bulls and with an almost entirely new bench Butler figures to be in a position to fight for minutes.
In this year's NBA draft the Bulls selected Kentucky point guard Marquis Teague, brother of the Atlanta Hawks Jeff Teague, with the 29th overall pick.
Teague started the year slowly for the Wildcats but got stronger as the season went on. He has the potential to be a very solid defensive player and his immense athletic ability allows him to create not only for himself, but for his teammates.
He has good size for the point guard position and scouts have said best-case scenario would have Teague be a comparable player to Kyle Lowery. Not bad for the second-to-last pick in the first round.
One other player to listen for is Nikola Mirotic. He won't be joining the team this season, however, he could come over from Real Madrid next season if the Bulls can work out a deal with Real to get him released from his contract.
Mirotic has a strong outside game while standing 6'10" and has won an MVP award for the FIBA U-20 Championship. Hopefully the Bulls can get him to Chicago sooner rather than later.