Who Have Been the Chicago Bulls' Most Disappointing Players so Far This Season?
The Chicago Bulls are off to an unimpressive start to the 2012-13 season, and it's largely a result of a handful of players whose performance thus far has been disappointing.
The Bulls are currently 6-7 and some may argue that this is right around where they should be while Derrick Rose remains sidelined. However, they went 18-9 during the regular season last year without Rose, and the Bulls should thus have higher expectations than merely hovering around .500.
The frustration of the Bulls' season was summarized on Monday night, when they blew a 27-point lead and lost to the Milwaukee Bucks. There are clearly some players on this roster who are underperforming and need to step their games up if Chicago expects to remain competitive in the Eastern Conference.
Here we will examine the Bulls' most disappointing players thus far, while also analyzing how they can turn things around in a hurry.
*Statistics used in this slideshow were as of November 27, 2012.
Kirk Hinrich was signed in the offseason to fill the starting point guard spot while Rose is out, and the expectation for him was to exhibit stellar defense while also stabilizing the offense with his passing and shooting.
The defense and passing have been adequate, but the shooting has been baffling. He's currently shooting a dismal 31.3 percent from the field (25 percent from long-range). Despite playing over 26 minutes an outing, his scoring average rests at just 6.3 points per game.
This output is clearly unacceptable.
Hinrich is not needed, nor was he ever expected, to be a primary scoring option for the Bulls. But he at least needs to be a threat. He at least needs to be knocking down the open three consistently, but this has been lacking all season.
The way in which Hinrich needs to turn things around is simple: shoot better.
This begins with him not being afraid to shoot. There have been plenty of times when Hinrich appears hesitant to shoot, and it's easy to wonder if his shooting slump is now in his head. His confidence appears low.
He needs to work through this and keep firing. He's a career 37.7 percent shooter from long-distance, and in time, his shot should start falling on a more regular basis. If this happens, his average should crawl closer to 10 PPG, which would be highly valuable for a Bulls squad that is struggling offensively.
Marco Belinelli joined the Bulls in the offseason to provide them with a shooter off the bench. After Kyle Korver was traded to the Atlanta Hawks, the Bulls were in need of someone to stretch the defense.
Belinelli's start with the Bulls has been shaky, and it appears that he hasn't gained the trust of coach Tom Thibodeau. In the past three games, he's logged a total of 10 minutes (including zero against the Bucks on Monday).
His shot simply hasn't fallen consistently enough, as his field goal percentage sits at 37.5 percent.
If Belinelli isn't shooting the ball effectively, then he's not deserving of many minutes, if any minutes. His defense is subpar and the Bulls are thus better served to insert a player like Jimmy Butler.
The first way in which Belinelli needs to improve is obvious. Similar to Hinrich, he must shoot better and begin demanding respect from the defense. A percentage below 40 percent is something opponents are never going to respect.
Secondly, he needs to reveal his ability to create off the dribble. This has been witnessed at times, particularly during the preseason. He can create off the dribble and this versatility could prove valuable for a Bulls team lacking in creators.
If Belinelli can showcase these skills soon, he could become a core member of Chicago's new-look "Bench Mob." But if these things don't happen soon, he'll likely remain lost on the Bulls' bench for the majority of 2012-13.
Taj Gibson signed a lucrative contract prior to the season (four-years, $38 million), and with this comes increased expectations. While he remains a backup, his contract is like that of a starter and his performance should be as well.
Thus far, he has looked like a typical backup power forward. He hasn't flashed anything that exclaims his value, and his numbers are down across the board compared to last season.
One area of concern is his particularly low field goal percentage (43.2 percent). This is especially disappointing coming from a player of his size and athleticism.
Further, his struggles have slipped into other areas as well. His rebounding output is not where it needs to be.
His rebounding numbers situate him at 7.77 rebounds per-36 minutes, according to Real GM Sports, which is the same number as Brook Lopez. Lopez is a notoriously average to below-average rebounder.
Other players such as guard Evan Turner, forward Ryan Anderson and veteran Lamar Odom are among many who are rebounding at a higher rate than Gibson.
It's still early, but Gibson must turn his production around quickly. He's being paid like a starter and we should now being seeing why.
His athleticism and energy should soon vault up his scoring and rebounding averages, as well as his field goal percentage.
These improvements are downright necessary or else there may be reason to question why the Bulls gave Gibson such a pricey extension.
Marquis Teague has only played in five games during the regular season, and this overall pick has been a disappointing one for Chicago.
Teague struggled mightily during the summer league and didn't look much better during the preseason. His efforts weren't near enough to earn a consistent role in the Bulls' rotation.
However, due to an injury to Kirk Hinrich a couple weeks ago, Teague did play 18 minutes against Boston, revealing some promise.
But overall, he clearly has a long way to go before he becomes a core contributor. At this point, despite the initial disappointment, Bulls fans should remain patient with Teague and keep in mind that he's just 19 years old. In a few years, he could become a budding point guard who has value off the bench.
Yet as of right now, Bulls fans have to be perplexed by this selection, because he hasn't proven why he was worthy of a first-round pick.
Currently, the only way Teague can steer things in the right direction is by spending plenty of time in the gym and earning the trust of Tom Thibodeau. If he does that this season, he will at least be headed in the right direction.
Look, nobody in their right mind expected veteran Nazr Mohammed to become a potent weapon off Chicago's bench this season.
But there was at least the thought that he could eat up some minutes while spelling Joakim Noah. Omer Asik did this valiantly the past couple seasons, but Mohammed is clearly a major downgrade from Asik.
On the season, in 6.2 minutes per game, Mohammed is averaging 0.6 points per game and 1.6 rebounds per outing. The ugliest of his numbers is the field goal percentage: 7.1 percent.
You read that correctly.
As a result of Mohammed's ineffectiveness, he has not logged any minutes in their last few games. Thibodeau appears content to play Joakim Noah hefty minutes and use Gibson at center when needed.
Therefore, Mohammed likely won't receive minutes unless there's an injury.
And Bulls fans should hope desperately that there's not an injury in their frontcourt. Mohammed is 35 years old and lacks lift in his legs. He's simply not fit to be a consistent player in the NBA anymore.
He can turn things around by at least converting on his field goals when he is in the game, but he may unfortunately not have many chances to display this.