2011 Chicago Bulls: Who Has Been the Most Important Reserve?
The Bulls are making noise throughout the league and are close to securing a No. 1 playoff seed and a first round matchup against (more than likely) the lowly Pacers. As a side note, I am so excited to see Joakim Noah destroy my least favorite player in Tyler Hansbrough. But back to the main subject, everyone knows about the MVP in Derrick Rose. Deng's very good year has been mentioned repeatedly. Carlos Boozer has been a fine addition down low and Joakim Noah rebounds like a machine. And sadly, everyone also knows about the lack of a high-quality shooting guard.
But that's only five players. The Bulls' roster has 15 players. That being said, who is the most important reserve on the roster?
John Lucas/Jannero Pargo
Both players signed recently and since their arrival this pair hasn't done anything besides been cannon-fodder for Derrick Rose to beat up on during practice.
Brian Scalabrine—easily one of my favorite pro athletes in a long time. We all love him as the crowd chants his name every time the Bulls have a large lead. He's won an NBA championship and will have more than a little advice for Derrick and Co. once the playoffs start.
But that being said, there's no way he's the Bulls most important reserve.
A player signed right after the trade deadline, Butler has only seen the court when Scalabrine sees the court. Not expected to play anytime soon, Butler will continue to be a practice player for the Bulls
The crafty veteran is a huge asset for the Bulls as he played a significant chunk of the season as the starter. After returning to the bench he continued to play and it seemed as if he hadn't missed a minute. Kurt has a reliable jumper and is a very good low post defender. Throw in his age and experience and he's another valuable leader in the locker room and a mentor for Derrick Rose.
But again, his body of work isn't worthy of the esteemed Chicago Bulls Sixth Man of the Year award.
It wouldn't be right to have a picture of Kyle Korver if he isn't shooting it in. That's all Korver can do, but then again, you need to shoot to score. Korver's defensive deficiency has been well documented and he will never be a lockdown defender and therefore a complete player.
But when the Bulls are down by a lot and need a quick comeback, look no further than Kyle Korver. When he runs off a screen, everyone in the United Center knows what's going to happen, including the other team. Yet, Korver still finds the bottom of the net. And when he's hot, Korver can light up the score board.
Despite his shooting ability, Korver does not win the Bulls' Sixth Man of the Year award.
I am a huge CJ Watson and therefore might be a little biased, but what CJ brings to this team is very important and very under-looked. A score first guard when he first came to the Bulls, CJ has shown the ability to sometimes finish with a very flashy pass.
Derrick Rose simply doesn't sit that much and honestly, why should he? But when he does CJ can score and keep the offense running reasonably well. Remember, when CJ started in Rose's place earlier and received the most minutes, he scored 33 against Denver.
CJ is the point guard and is therefore the most important position on the floor, but it is hard to say that he is the No. 1 reserve as he simply does not receive enough minutes, understandably of course.
Yet, CJ is talented and probably could start on a handful of teams in the league. Maybe if one of those teams has a quality shooting guard, CJ and a few picks could lead to a trade.
Okay, his shooting form is poor. He cannot make a three. And while that is not his fault (his broken arm suffered as a child still impacts his shooting), a shooting guard who can't make a three wouldn't be that useful, right?
In one of my previous articles, someone wrote a comment referring to Ronnie as the guard version of Joakim Noah. And it was such a perfect comparison. Neither have the most complete offensive skill set yet, but both can score in transition. Brewer and Noah are arguably the teams two best defenders. Both can rebound and both do all the little things that can turn the tide of a game.
Perhaps the biggest similarity between the two is the energy they bring. Noah brings the energy with the starters and Ronnie brings energy with the backups.
Despite how important Ronnie is, he does not come home with the coveted Bulls Sixth Man of the Year award.
And the Award Goes To...
Let me rephrase the title to the slide. And the winnerS are...
Winner One: Omer Asik
The Turkish rookie started off slow while still getting adjusted to the NBA, but has really become a key part of this team after the All-Star break. His body of work makes him fitting to be one of the Bulls most important reserves.
First things first, Asik cannot score. His offensive game mostly consists of dunks on put backs, yet he has at times shown flashes that indicate he has plenty of potential in this end and could one day start on some team in the league.
What makes Asik so vital to the Bulls is his work on the defensive end. He rebounds, but only after roughing it up on the low post, and at least altering a shot with his seven-foot frame, if not blocking it.
Asik has a long, long future with the Bulls as partly seen by their refusal to trade him. Athletic seven-footers do not come around too often, and the Bulls will hold onto him as long as possible. If he could add 15 pounds of muscle mass during the offseason he would improve upon the Bulls outstanding backup front court and the winner of the Bulls 2010-2011 Sixth Men of the Year award.
Part two of the Bulls outstanding backup front court and another winner of the Bulls Sixth Man of the Year award, Taj Gibson is a very quality big man.
Similar to Asik, Gibson does not have the best offensive game, but is a streaky shooter who has decent long range on his jumper. However, due to his slightly older age, Taj has probably reached his ceiling and doesn't have the potential Asik does.
Don't get me wrong though, Taj is still an outstanding player with a hard-nosed defensive attitude. Along with Asik, they have and will continue to dominate backup bigs for the rest of the season. Honestly, the two could probably start together on some teams in the NBA. Come playoff time, they could be the difference makers in a potential Boston matchup as these two young guns should be able to best Shaq and Kristic.
Taj perfectly fits into what the Bulls are looking for a big man: A tough, hard nosed defender who is not afraid to mix it up to get a hard earned rebound or put back. By starting for Boozer during the first quarter of the season and his work down low since then, Taj is certainly worthy of this title.
As a result, the winners of the Sean O'Dowd Chicago Bulls 2010-2011 Sixth Men of the Year award are Omer Asik and Taj Gibson. Great work guys. Keep up the great play and go out there and get our city a championship!