Comparing Past 3 Versions of the Chicago Bulls' Bench Mob
The Chicago Bulls should have a decent bench this season, but chances are it won't be as great as the past three versions.
Chicago assembled the original "Bench Mob" prior to the 2010-11 season. Led by Taj Gibson, Kyle Korver and C.J. Watson, this group would help land the league's top record for two consecutive years.
Management, though, wound up dismantling the crew during the 2012 offseason. While key free agents like Watson and Omer Asik signed elsewhere, Korver was dealt to the Atlanta Hawks. Bargain-bin free agents such as Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli were brought in as replacements.
The retooled bench would help Chicago earn a playoff berth, despite Derrick Rose missing the entire campaign. Then once again, the wrecking ball was back in action, as both Robinson and Belinelli bolted town this offseason.
Which version of Mob would you choose? Would you rather have a ball hawk like Watson or an unstoppable scorer like Nate the Great?
C.J. Watson, John Lucas III and Nate Robinson are the only Bench Mob point guards to play at least 40 minutes for the Bulls. We won't include Kirk Hinrich, who was acquired to back up Derrick Rose. Captain Kirk started all 60 of his games last season, replacing Rose, who missed the entire campaign recovering from ACL surgery. So you really couldn't consider him a bench player last year.
Here's a chart which displays Watson, Lucas III and Robinson's stats:
Robinson is clearly the best scorer of the group. Little Nate was phenomenal during his one season in Chicago, reaching the 20-point mark 16 times, including in the playoffs. He was the Bulls' second-leading scorer during the postseason (16.3 points per game). That's not bad for a guy playing for the veteran's minimum.
Lucas III may not be on the same level as Watson or Robinson, but he certainly was an impact player for Chicago in 2011-12. He put on quite a show versus the Miami Heat, as he dropped 24 points on LeBron James and Co. Here are the highlights:
Miami obviously didn't have an answer for JL3 on that night.
Perhaps Watson was the best fit due to his defense. As everybody knows, the Bulls are all about suffocating D.
During the '90s, the Bulls always had a long-range threat like B.J. Armstrong, John Paxson and Steve Kerr. Kyle Korver was that guy for two years. The Ashton Kutcher look-alike shot 41.4 percent from beyond the arc in 2010-11 and 43.5 during the 2011-12 campaign. The Bulls really missed his outside shooting last season, as they ranked just 21st in three-point percentage.
Ronnie Brewer was Korver's Bench Mob wing mate for a pair of games. Unlike Korver, Brewer was far from an elite shooter, hitting nearly 25 percent of his three-point attempts. However, he did provide the lineup with athleticism and lockdown defense.
Speaking of lockdown defense, that's what made Jimmy Butler a valuable reserve in 2012-13. He didn't earn the nickname "Kobe Stopper" for nothing. Butler, though, was a much better shooter than Brewer, as he shot 38.1 percent from downtown. His days as a Bench Mob member are over, seeing that he'll be at shooting guard for the Bulls this season.
Marco Belinelli joined Butler on the second unit last season. He was brought in to replace Korver as the team's three-point specialist. However, he would prove to be more than just a shooter, showcasing the ability to create his own shot as well as handle the ball.
What do the three Bench Mob versions have in common? Taj Gibson should be your first answer. The former USC star backed up power forward Carlos Boozer the past three years, and he'll do the same this season. Each and every night, you know what you'll get from Gibson: hustle, energy and fantastic defense.
Veteran big man Kurt Thomas spent one season (2010-11) on Chicago's bench. He was solid, averaging 4.1 points and 5.8 rebounds per game while shooting 51.1 percent from the field. In addition, he served as the Bulls' enforcer, something every team needs.
Omer Asik backed up center Joakim Noah for the first two Bench Mobs. He brought excellent rebounding and shot blocking to the table on a nightly basis. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau doesn't normally play rookies much, but he couldn't pass up giving Asik minutes.
After Asik signed with the Houston Rockets last summer, the Bulls signed Nazr Mohammed as a replacement. The Chicago native went on to average 2.6 points and 3.1 rebounds per game while shooting just 36.7 percent from the field. Meanwhile, Asik hit over 50 percent of his field-goal attempts.
Hands down, Asik was the better Bench Mob center. Although he only averaged roughly three points and four boards during his Bulls tenure, he was obviously a better shooter and a much better defender.
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