Final First-Half Player Power Rankings for Chicago Bulls
We’re nearing the halfway point of the 2013-14 season, so it’s time to take a look back at how the Chicago Bulls’ players have performed.
It’s been a rough season for Chicago, from beginning the year with championship aspirations to now blowing up the team’s core and initiating the rebuilding process.
Despite the team’s shortcomings, the Bulls have still managed to remain competitive and, as a result, have provided us with some big performances along the way. There have been more than a few inconsistencies throughout, however, with a couple of players having up-and-down weeks or even months.
Injuries also plagued the Bulls: Not only was Derrick Rose lost for the entire 2013-14 campaign, but iron man Jimmy Butler has missed some time with numerous injuries. Luol Deng also dealt with some bumps and bruises prior to being traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Carlos Boozer is dealing with a knee injury.
While it may seem like a tough road ahead for Chicago, there are still some bright spots and reasons to be excited.
Given that Derrick Rose has been inactive for a majority of the season, he will be excluded from the list.
Note: Stats are accurate as of Jan. 9, 2013.
12. Erik Murphy, 11. Marquis Teague
Rookie forward Erik Murphy has played 37 minutes all year and has scored just four points. He wasn’t expected to get much time during his first year, and it panned out that way.
Murphy has the tools to be a rotation player in the future due to his three-point range and ability to function as a stretch 4, but he’ll continue to soak in the pro game from the sidelines during his first year.
Maybe Marquis Teague isn't the backup of the future.
Whenever the second-year point guard entered a game, the offense would suffer because he didn't quite know what to do. He looked lost offensively and didn't live up to his potential in providing defense.
In 10 December games, Teague averaged fewer than 15 minutes per game and shot an abysmal 28.6 percent from the floor. He was assigned to the Iowa Energy, an NBA D-League team, in hopes he would develop a bit further, since he was getting little to no playing time under Tom Thibodeau.
Chicago exercised its team option for a third year with Teague. Whether he plays it out with Chicago or is used a trading chip remains to be seen, but the Kentucky product could have a chance to redeem himself next season.
10. Nazr Mohammed
The 16-year vet hasn’t done much as the Bulls' primary backup center, but he hasn't exactly received many minutes. During December, he averaged only six minutes per game.
Taj Gibson has gotten most of his minutes at the center position (rightfully so), and at this point Mohammed is purely a veteran presence and a "spot minutes" guy. Should Gibson or Joakim Noah be forced to miss time, he could step in and give the Bulls 20 to 25 minutes, but expectations shouldn’t be high.
Mohammed’s time as a viable backup might be over, but he proved toward the tail end of last season that he could play significant minutes.
Perhaps he will get more action as the season winds down, especially if the Bulls are out of the playoff race.
9. Tony Snell
Rookies generally haven’t gotten a lot of time under Thibodeau, but injuries have given the New Mexico product a chance to shine, and he’s done so.
Snell has played some big minutes recently due to Deng's and Butler's injuries, and his breakout performance came against the Cavs when he scored 17 points and shot 62.5 percent from downtown.
The former Lobo has shown that he can be a solid catch-and-shoot player and has a lot of defensive upside given his size and frame.
The main problem, however, is that Snell’s minutes have been inconsistent all season. He only saw extended minutes when Chicago dealt with injuries. Other than that, his time on the court fluctuates from single digits to as high as 20 or 25.
That will change with the Deng trade, though.
Snell is now the main perimeter backup player behind Butler and Mike Dunleavy. His confidence should grow, and if he can play with minor hesitation, his shot and overall game should improve as well.
8. Kirk Hinrich
While Kirk Hinrich has done a good job of managing the game and setting up the Bulls’ offense, his offensive contributions have been nearly nonexistent.
During the month of December, Hinrich shot 28 percent from the floor and an even lower 25 percent from deep, averaging just over seven points per game in 34 minutes.
Hinrich’s shooting numbers are down considerably from last season, when his three-point shot was falling at a 39 percent rate. His assist percentage has also decreased, according to basketball-reference.com, from 27.5 percent last season to 24.8 this year.
Newly acquired point guard D.J. Augustin has been outperforming Hinrich as of late, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if Augustin starts getting as many, if not more minutes than Hinrich going forward.
7. D.J. Augustin
Despite playing just over a dozen games for Chicago, D.J. Augustin has turned into a big surprise for the Bulls.
He’s grasped the offense rather quickly, a system that has been a problem for former players like Marco Belinelli, per the Chicago Sun-Times. Not to say Augustin has it down to a T, but he’s made a case for Teague’s "backup of the future" label.
He’s reading the offense very well, putting players in the right position and, most importantly, he's kept the ball moving. He’s also given the Bulls some solid scoring, whether it was off the bench or as a starter.
Of his 13 games so far with the Bulls, he’s scored in double digits in eight of them, including a five-game stretch when he scored at least 10 points. In one of those games, he posted a double-double, scoring 18 points and dishing out 10 assists.
One of the biggest contributions is his three-point shooting.
In his 10 December games, he shot 39.5 percent from behind the arc. Perimeter shooting has been an ongoing issue with the Bulls, so Augustin’s efficiency from downtown is a much-welcomed addition.
Augustin will continue to see big minutes at the point guard spot and could wind up being the Bulls' future backup.
6. Mike Dunleavy
Chicago’s big free-agent signing this past offseason got off to a shaky start as he struggled to find his rhythm in a new system.
Mike Dunleavy has started to show significant improvement, though. Thibodeau has found a way to maximize Dunleavy’s efficiency, and now whenever he curls off a screen, catches and shoots, it’s almost an automatic basket.
He's also working the floor really well, cutting to the basket and making good passes within the flow of the offense.
Since December, Dunleavy’s best month, he’s put together four 20-point games, two of them in consecutive games.
In 12 games as a starter, he’s averaged 12.7 points per game in 33 minutes per contest, although his three-point shot has been more efficient when he comes off the bench.
Dunleavy will likely remain the starter alongside Butler, and it should lead to an increase in his numbers across the board.
5. Carlos Boozer
The best way to describe Carlos Boozer’s 2013-14 season is “up-and-down”.
After a hot start to the season, Boozer has more than cooled down, finishing off what could be one of his worst months as a Bull. Throughout December, Boozer shot an uncharacteristic 40 percent and averaged a pedestrian 13 points per game.
According to basketball-reference.com, Boozer’s offensive rating dipped to 87 after being at 95 for November, which is still low compared to his career average of 103 since joining Chicago in 2010.
It wasn't just his scoring that suffered, though, as his rebounding numbers have also taken a slight hit.
Boozer has lost minutes to Gibson (also rightfully so) and is seldom used during fourth-quarter situations due to his poor help defense.
Chicago is starting a rebuilding process, and with its amnesty provision still in play, Boozer’s chances of remaining a Bull past this summer seem less and less likely every game he struggles.
4. Jimmy Butler
Jimmy Butler has been plagued by injury, missing 12 games due to a variety of injuries, mainly a turf toe.
When he has played, though, he’s been one of the better players for the Bulls, especially for his contributions on defense and in transition.
This season, Butler is averaging two steals per game and shows a knack for breaking up the passing lane, leading to easy buckets for the Bulls.
The downside—and it’s a pretty big one—is that his shooting numbers have not been on par with expectations. Butler played in only nine games during December, shooting 38 percent from the floor and 33 percent from downtown, which is right around his season rate.
Coming into this season, Butler was primed to be the Bulls’ X-factor, with an improved offensive game. Instead, he’s been rather inconsistent with his jump shot, but has shown effectiveness when putting the ball on the floor and attacking the rim.
Still, Butler contributes on both ends of the floor and gives the Bulls solid rebounding numbers for the guard position. With Deng gone, Butler becomes the new “jack-of-all-trades” player on the roster, and he has to use the remainder of this season to prove he can fulfill that role.
3. Taj Gibson
Taj Gibson is ready to be a starter.
His post-up game has vastly improved, as has his jump shot—so much so that he’s playing as well, if not better than Boozer.
Not only is he matching Boozer’s productivity, but he’s a much better defender. He can extend his on-ball defense out to the perimeter, and his help defense and rim protection is extremely valuable to the Bulls’ defensive system.
Boozer still has the offensive advantage over Gibson because of his array of post moves and ability to score 30 on any given night, but the USC alum has been a little more consistent and can perform at a high level on both ends of the floor.
Gibson received a big extension last season, and he’s starting to live up to the figure. Boozer’s inconsistency and recent injury problems have given Gibson more stage time, and he’s putting on some big performances.
With the Bulls beginning to rebuild, Boozer could be gone after this season, and Gibson will be more than ready and able to fill in and put up big numbers.
2. Joakim Noah
Noah got off to a slow start as he recovered from an offseason injury, but he’s finally coming into his own and playing like the All-Star he was last season.
The versatile center has done an exceptional job in his hi-lo passing game.
His ability to find the backdoor cutter and regularly deliver a perfect bounce pass is rare in the NBA, and he’s good for about three to five of those every night.
Noah’s rebounding numbers are among the league’s best as well, as he's in the top 10 in that category. During December, Noah elevated his work on the glass, snatching 12 boards per contest.
Offensively, Noah is starting to play some of his best basketball. He’s no longer settling for jump shots or even looking to shoot at all. He’s driving left successfully and his hook shot from the post is starting to work more and more as he continues to work on it.
Noah has been one of the Bulls’ most consistent players, and now that he’s at full speed, there’s no reason to believe he won’t continue to be.
1. Luol Deng
Luol Deng may no longer be a Bull, but before he was traded, he was Chicago’s best player.
The 10-year vet was stuffing the stat sheet on a nightly basis, getting others involved and crashing the boards while still providing the Bulls with consistent scoring.
Deng missed a handful of games during his final month in Chicago, but he was posting big numbers, scoring 22 points per game while shooting 41 percent from downtown throughout December.
He was the only player who could somewhat create offense for himself, and he was showing some great passing skills as well.
Overall, he was having one of his best seasons as a Bull, averaging a career-high 19 points per game and posting his best field-goal percentage (45.2 percent) since the 2010-11 season.
Moving forward, the Bulls will have to collectively step up to make up for this loss. They got off to a good start with a win over the Phoenix Suns, but there’s a long season ahead.