The Chicago Bulls currently hold a 14 game lead in the NBA’s Central Division over the struggling Indiana Pacers, and are just 2 games behind the Boston Celtics for the top spot in the East. The Bulls are establishing themselves as a dominant team in the NBA with their 38-16 record, despite playing only nine games at full strength.
The gaping hole in the Bulls roster is at shooting guard. All three of the Bulls' shooting guards are underachieving. Kyle Korver leads the pack with a respectable 8.4 PPG, followed by Ronnie Brewer at 6.4 PPG, and starter Keith Bogans pours in an embarrassing 3.9 PPG.
The Bulls have to make a move to bring in a solid starting shooting guard if they hope to make a deep playoff run. They also need to be careful in order to maintain the team chemistry, which has greatly contributed to their winning record. Here are a few players the Bulls should not move this year...
Luol Deng has been a Bulls' centerpiece for over five years. He plays strong defense which Coach Thibodeau loves, can shoot the three, and is averaging 17.6 PPG on 45% shooting. Yet it has been rumored that the Bulls might ship out Luol Deng to the 76ers for Andre Iguodala.
This would be a poor decision because Iguodala is struggling this year with just 14.2 PPG, and Derrick Rose plays well with Deng. Iguodala is attractive because he can pass and handle the ball well, but his talents would be wasted with Derrick Rose on the floor because of their similar playing styles. Luol Deng is also a great team leader for the Bulls. He knows when to let Rose or Boozer take over, and when they are struggling Deng has the skills to lead the Bulls and score twenty-five plus points.
Omer Asik has convinced me he should be on the Bulls roster for the long haul. He has already grown vastly as a rebounder and basketball player from earlier this season and when this rookie gets minutes, he gets rebounds. Omer is averaging 10.7 rebounds per 36 minutes. Although his offensive skills are not there yet, he is young and has the ability to become a very talented role player for the Bulls. Omer is the Bulls' ace in the hole. He is the only seven-footer on the roster, and with both Carlos Boozer’s and Joakim Noah’s injury issues, I’d like to have a young seven-footer on the back burner.
The only reason the Chicago Bulls should not move James Johnson is because they would not get enough value for him right now. Johnson was a first-round draft pick in 2009, and averages 19 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists. Unfortunately those were his stats from his recent D-League stint, and his NBA career is far less impressive. His two year career average is only four points and two rebounds per game.
The Bulls are hoping that Johnson’s recent success in the D-League will carry over into the NBA, and if Johnson can boost his value very quickly then I have no problem with the Bulls dealing him. I doubt this will happen so let’s hope Johnson can learn to take good shots, play defense, and get on Coach Thibodeau’s good side.
Taj Gibson is another product of the 2009 NBA draft. Gibson has been streaky this year, and his numbers are down from his rookie season. But he is still very young, and is an explosive spark off the bench that can give you a double-double any night. Gibson’s name comes up frequently in Bulls trade rumors because he has shown great promise and has drawn the attention of several teams around the league. Gibson’s contract is as appealing as his talent, and this is why the Bulls need to keep him on their roster. He is under contract until the 2013-2014 NBA season, and will cost the Bulls less than $2 million per year (average) which is a good deal for Gibson’s production.
If the Chicago Bulls cannot make a deal without giving up key rotation players, they should see what MVP candidate Derrick Rose can do without a proper running mate, wait until next year, and build through the draft or free agency. The Bulls need to get healthy in order to make some noise in the postseason regardless of their shooting guard situation. And if Gar Forman can pull off some magic and make a deal to aid the Bulls two guard woes this team can compete for the Larry O’Brien trophy now.