With the month of December now in the rear view mirror, the power rankings for the Chicago Bulls are now available.
Some players, Luol Deng and Nate Robinson to name a couple, have played well. Then there are those who have struggled.
I take into consideration how each player performs on both sides of the floor. A player’s overall statistics are factored in. Their current level of play versus how they have improved or digressed from the previous month gets considered.
Another factor is a player’s contract status. If the player is on the trade market, his power ranking can skyrocket or take a nosedive, no matter how he is performing.
12. Vladimir Radmanovic, Forward
Where is Vladimir Radmanovic? I believe that he is still on the Chicago Bulls’ roster, but he rarely plays. After appearing in only eight games this season thus far, not only has he not made an impact, he represents the Bulls’ worst offseason signing.
11. Nazr Mohammed, Center
A Chicago-native, Nazr Mohammed has not received a ton of playing time. The rationale for that is simple—Joakim Noah has played great basketball.
Mohammed’s minutes have increased over the past week. In the game against the Charlotte Bobcats, Mohammed actually made a shot, giving him a whopping six baskets this season.
10. Nate Robinson, Guard
Nate Robinson should be much higher in the power rankings, but it is difficult to ignore his contract status. Robinson’s deal is non-guaranteed until January 10. The Bulls could waive him and bring in a more defensive-minded point guard. Doing so puts a bigger dent into the Bulls’ offense that has problems scoring.
9. Richard Hamilton, Guard
Richard Hamilton’s power ranking status is harder to read than any player on the Bulls. Injuries (Hamilton has missed 12 games this season) are partly to blame for this. How other NBA general managers view Hamilton and his $5 million contract is another reason. His contract is partially guaranteed for next season.
A team that is looking to shed payroll would perhaps be interested in Hamilton. That is only if he can stay healthy.
8. Kirk Hinrich, Guard
Kirk Hinrich has played better lately, but he is still a liability on offense. His scoring has improved from 6.5 in November to 7.2 in December. There was also a spike in his shooting percentage, which increased from .338 to .410.
If Hinrich can get his scoring average near double-figures, his will move up higher in the rankings.
7. Marquis Teague, Guard
Marquis Teague has already exceeded expectations. Many fans and observers thought that he would be spending some time in the NBA’s Developmental League. Instead of tearing it up for the Bulls’ NBDL affiliate, the Iowa Energy, Teague has appeared in 16 games. His upside includes; good court vision and decision-making.
Taj Gibson is coming around too slowly. His rebounding (4.6 RPG) and defense is steady as usual. Gibson is challenging shots and getting results. He is averaging one block per game. The problem that he faces is improving his overall game.
Chicago Bulls fans have clamored for Gibson to replace Carlos Boozer in the starting lineup. Before that happens there is something to consider; over 48 minutes, Gibson would average 15.5 PPG, 11.0 RPG and 2.6 BPG. Boozer on the other hand would average 22.3 PPG, 15.1 RPG and 3.1 APG.
I am not a math major, but those are better overall statistics in favor of Boozer.
What a difference a month makes. Marco Belinelli has gone from not cracking the rotation to a valuable player for the Chicago Bulls. In a month’s time, his scoring average has risen from 5.2 to 10.0 PPG.
Marco Belinelli spoke to reporters during the offseason, via CSNChicago.com.
I’m going to try to score from three-point range, but I’m going to try to do whatever to win the game. I can dribble the ball maybe better than Kyle Korver, but I just want to be me, If I have to take some three-point shots, if I have to dribble the ball and create shots for my teammates, I'm going to try to do anything to win a game. That's the mentality I want to have.
He did a lot of talking during the offseason about what he can bring to the table. Finally, he is backing up his talk with excellent play.
The improvements are not just on the offensive side of the ball. On defense, Belinelli has emerged into a solid ball-stopper. He is using different angles, which has forced his assignment to commit turnovers and take bad shots. Belinelli has taken great strides.
Carlos Boozer is enjoying a good season overall, but he could play better.
One of his deficiencies is on defense. He is not a player who you would choose to anchor your team’s defensive front, but his improvement is noticeable. Boozer is moving his feet quicker and he is challenging shots.
Boozer’s other drawback is his love for the elbow jump shot.
When the shot falls, he is a difficult player to guard. When his shot fails, he goes into a complete slump. Boozer is still an offensive force.
When asked about his recent play by the Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson, Boozer remarked,
We play together, but I'm trying to be aggressive when I get the ball. Luol (Deng) and I are able to set the tone a lot from the beginning, getting easy shots and getting us off to good starts. Everybody knows we usually go to (Derrick) Rose. But with him and (Richard Hamilton) out, Lu and I are trying to be aggressive.
Hopefully the plan is for Boozer to continue his solid play.
Jimmy Butler comes off the bench and plays less than 20 minutes a game, but his impact is that of a starter. As long as he can contribute to the team, Butler is willing to play as many minutes as he is needed.
Aggrey Sam of CSN Chicago recently caught up with the Marquette University product and discussed his playing time.
One night I could see this many minutes, the next night, this many minutes. It all depends on how he’s feeling and how things are going within the game. It definitely is, but I feel like my name will get called eventually. I know that. Well, I can’t say I know that for a fact, but I’m hoping it does and when it does, go out there, play hard, make a few shots and guard.
Butler’s opportunity for more minutes will come eventually. The Chicago Bulls need his perimeter defense.
On the offensive end of the floor, Butler must gain more confidence in his shot. When he shoots, he has good results. The key for Butler going forward is his understanding that he must shorten the range on his shot. This means passing up an open, long-range jump shot in favor of a 16-17 foot shot.
There are times when Luol Deng is on the floor and he may not take a shot. When that happens, Deng is making his impact in the other ways. This is what makes him so valuable to the Chicago Bulls.
He sees the floor well, making his passes accurate. The defense that he plays on his opponents is stifling, seldom allowing his man a clean look at the basket. Very few players can guard the New York Knicks’ superstar Carmelo Anthony the way that Deng does. Anthony is not the only player who struggles when Deng is defending them. Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James all have limited success against him.
Offensively, Deng leads the Bulls in scoring averaging 17.5 PPG. His point totals should be slightly better, but with a player who plays both sides of the floor equally, who can complain?
It is still early in the season, but Joakim Noah is the Chicago Bulls’ most valuable player. He can beat teams several ways: in the low post, on the perimeter, with his passing and on defense.
The footwork on both sides of the basketball court is fluid. The angles that Noah takes on defense, he has also used on offense. This allows him to maneuver his way around the post for layup and dunk opportunities.
The low post game is not the only area where Noah has shored up. The jump shot, funky motion and all, is going in with regularity. It is forcing opposing teams to play Noah closely. If you guard him too close, Noah can blow by you. If you give him too much space, Noah will bury the 16 footer. He is also one of if not the best passing centers in the NBA.
On Christmas, ESPN Stats and Info labeled Noah the player to watch.
Joakim Noah has elevated his game in 2012. We look at his importance to the Bulls es.pn/TTlr24— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 25, 2012
Noah is having an NBA All-Star type of season. After close calls in the last couple of seasons, this could be Noah’s year.
That makes him the most powerful Bull.