Which Chicago Bulls players would you like to see receive less playing time? Better yet, which players would you like to see more of?
Imagine that you are Bulls head coach, Tom Thibodeau. You draw up the plays, call the timeouts, and you control who plays and who sits. What happens is completely in your hands!
Of the Bulls’ starting lineup, which player would you replace?
While most people would rather see a power forward sit on the pine in favor of Taj Gibson, the likely man to be replaced plays the point.
Kirk Hinrich Needs to Sit in Favor of Nate Robinson.
Kirk Hinrich has had a nightmarish season thus far. When your starting point guard averages 6.8 PPG and 5.5 APG, it is time for an upgrade. The Bulls have two other point guards on their roster: Nate Robinson and Marquis Teague.
Of the two, Robinson should get a shot at starting.
As much as I like what I see in Teague’s game, he is a rookie, young in all phases of the NBA game. He needs more playing time to help develop. That time should come in the second quarter, while Robinson and Hinrich are both resting.
Teague’s game is undefined: is Teague a scorer or a defender? With so much uncertainty, the logical replacement for Hinrich is Robinson.
Judging from the numbers, Robinson is having a better year than “Captain Kirk” is.
Robinson is scoring at a higher rate. His 11 PPG is the highest among the reserves, and it is fifth on the team. He dishes out 3.5 APG, and his efficiency ratings top those of Hinrich’s hands-down.
According to Hoopsdata.com, Nate Robinson’s overall rating in efficiency over a 40-minute period was 18.39. That is more than four points higher than Hinrich’s 14.02. Robinson also edges Hinrich out in the NBA PER (Player Efficiency Ratings). Robinson sits at 16.11, versus Hinrich’s 10.23.
The Bulls need someone to jump-start their offense, the statistics point to Robinson as a possible answer.
As they say, numbers never lie.
The point guard spot is the only position on the Bulls that needs to be addressed in its totality. The other positions in the starting lineup should be safe, but it is time for the starting small forward and center to get some rest.
Luol Deng and Joakim Noah Must Play Less in Order to Rest Up.
Luol Deng and Joakim Noah are No. 1 and No. 3, respectively, in minutes played. They both have capable backups, so why are they playing 40 minutes a game?
Does Jimmy Butler, the Bulls reserve small forward, hurt the team when he is on the court? Not at all! Sportingcharts.com is a website that takes a look at various statistics. One of the stats the website keeps track of is overall plus-minus data on each NBA player. The information charts the plus-minus numbers and rank each player.
Here is what is found about several Bulls' players.
Jimmy Butler’s plus-minus totals at .8. When you compare that to Luol Deng’s 1 plus-minus number, Butler playing more while relieving Deng is a no-brainer.
Of the 40.1 minutes Deng typically plays, Thibodeau can find five minutes for Butler.
What about Taj Gibson, who has played most of his minutes in the 5-spot? He doesn't hurt the Bulls, does he? It depends for whom he is substituting in the game.
Noah’s plus-minus totals are 2.5, and Gibson’s are 2.6. Gibson coming in for Noah is a slight downgrade. If he came in to replace Boozer, whose plus-minus is -1.4, the difference is staggering. It is still not enough to allow Noah to continue to log in 39.1 MPG. Besides, the Bulls need scoring.
Replacing Noah with Gibson does not put the team in position to lose much on the offensive end. When Gibson comes in for Boozer, the Bulls find points hard to come by.
The ideal situation is to keep playing Boozer the same number of minutes he is already playing. Gibson needs to play more, but preferably at the expense of Joakim Noah.
Marco Belinelli Must Receive More Time in a Small-Ball Lineup.
The last player who must receive more playing time is Marco Belinelli. He is one of the Bulls' best scorers.
When Belinelli played in place of an injured Richard Hamilton, the team’s offense was given a shot in the arm. He adds another element to the Bulls because he can create his own shot off the dribble. Belinelli should get a few more minutes on the floor, as Coach Thibodeau moves Hamilton to small forward.
Can you envision the Bulls trotting out Belinelli and Hamilton at the same time? I can.
The Bulls could play small-ball with Belinelli at the 2-guard spot, Hamilton at small forward, thus moving Deng to power forward.
This would create additional opportunities to rest Noah, or sit Boozer without sacrificing much on the offensive end.
I can imagine teams attempting to fight off screens, while Belinelli is setting up at the three-point line. The motion offense the Bulls employ would give opposing defenses fits. Deng is fantastic on the boards and at guarding smallish, power forwards, he creates a mismatch in certain situations. With Noah or Boozer manning the post, the Bulls can run the floor, or play half-court on offense.
The lineup tweaks that were mentioned could help the Bulls going forward, but they require the coaching staff to have an open mind. If only I could run the team for a day.