So yesterday I was thinking about the crushing defeat my Chicago Bulls just suffered, at the hands of the Orlando Magic and Vince Carter's 21 points. My first thought was “we really need Taj and Boozer back;” however, my next thought was “or do we?”
I know, I know, I can literally hear every Bulls fan screaming obscenities at me but hear me out first. Let's go back to before preseason and before Boozer broke his hand (insert cheesy dream sequence effect). Now, let's assume for a moment that Boozer didn't break his hand and Taj Gibson's heel isn't bothering him.
Are you with me? Good, let's continue.
Now, the preseason begins and the Bulls have a starting lineup of Rose, Bogans, Deng, Boozer and Noah. When the Bulls make a substitution of all five starters they would be, in theory, replaced with Watson, Korver, Johnson, Gibson and Asik. You probably look at this second unit and think “hey, there's at least three starters in that second unit it's pretty good.” You would be half right.
Yes, there are three starters in Watson, Korver and Gibson; however, when the preseason ends and the season starts, this second unit isn't going to be very good. The reason this second unit isn't going to be very good is because with Boozer and Taj in the rotation, other guys aren't getting the minutes that they need to improve or are actually getting right now.
Let's look at the Dallas game the other night in Chicago that went to overtime. If Boozer were on the floor for even 10 minutes in that game, Rose's three pointer on the buzzer would have been just another reason to celebrate what would have already been an easy victory. Boozer would have been the difference in a game like that, and therefore would have kept the bench off the floor for longer.
The Orlando Magic just smacked the Bulls around for almost 40 points, and to be honest I couldn't be happier that Boozer and Taj weren't there to try and stop it. At this point you probably think I'm completely crazy, and know nothing about the importance of Boozer and Gibson and to this I say you couldn't be more wrong.
My point in all of this madness is that with Boozer and Gibson sidelined for most of or all of preseason, it has given the Bulls some much needed opportunities to start or increase the minutes of our bench players. Which, in the case of guys like Asik and Korver, has proven to be fantastic. I see these two guys in particular as very important pieces to the long term success of the Bulls.
Asik has already shown us in just a few short preseason games that he has the ability to put together double-double games coming off the bench. Which, when you consider that he was only ever going to be a project and play Aaron Gray-type minutes, is fantastic because now Thibs can sub Asik for Noah and not feel like we're not losing a lot.
Asik is young, hungry and skilled so he's just the kind of guy you want coming in for Noah, who is young, hungry and skilled himself.
Let's not forget about Taj Gibson either. He has been a little bit hit-or-miss in the preseason games he played in, however someone like Taj can never be undervalued as he possesses the two greatest attributes any player can posses...The self-motivated drive to play at 100 percent of his ability, and the desire to get better everyday.
While I will certainly admit that I was disappointed to lose Boozer for five to eight weeks, I was excited at the opportunity that his injury created for the rest of the team. With Booz out, Thibs has been able to experiment more with lineups and this will be the reason that the Bulls go deep in to the playoffs or to the NBA finals.
Not because one of the Bulls' two all-stars was injured, but because our intelligent and forward-thinking coach had the vision to get as many minutes under our bench's belts as possible.
I very much look forward to Boozer and Taj returning to the court, however in the meantime I'm very glad to see the Bulls bench getting big quality minutes. It can only make them stronger.