Projecting Each 2012-13 Chicago Bulls Player's Minutes Per Game
Taking a look at the Chicago Bulls’ roster, everything appears to be set. Save for a minor roster move or major trade, the Bulls will begin the season with the starting lineup most likely penciled in as well.
What is yet to be determined is their rotation and what certain players’ roles are going to be.
For instance, second-year swingman Jimmy Butler did not get as much playing time as we would have hoped for, but that is guaranteed to change. How much playing time Butler receives is uncertain. His role will take its shape depending on how he can adapt to the NBA game in his sophomore season.
He is not alone.
Actual playing time for many of the Bulls’ players is difficult to calculate for obvious reasons (the injury to Derrick Rose being one of them). But other reasons are not so obvious.
With the help of NBA 2K12, I have listed the projected playing time for each player on the roster, starting with the guys at the end of the bench. Instead of just calculating their minutes according to where the roster stands, I have factored in Rose as well.
It is not known when Rose will return, but that does not mean that he will not affect the playing time of other players.
I imagine the Bulls will have a nine-player rotation as they compete to win the Central Division for the third consecutive season. As I mentioned before, the starting five is basically penciled in. It is the bench rotation that is a work in progress.
Here is how things shape up.
Projected playing time with Rose in the lineup is in parentheses.
The Back End of the 'Bench Mob'
Nate Robinson: 14 minutes (10 minutes)
Nazr Mohammed: 13 minutes (14 minutes)
Marquis Teague: 4 minutes (number of minutes is undetermined)
Vladimir Radmanovic: 7 minutes (no minute change)
Robinson and Mohammed will be regular contributors for different reasons.
Robinson has been a sparkplug at each one of his stops in the NBA. He provides offense (career scoring average of 11.2) and energy. His defense is not the best, but the Bulls rely on communication and a team-oriented philosophy on that end of the floor.
Mohammed, not to be confused with the departed Omer Asik, will help anchor the second unit’s defense. He is not the shot-blocker that Asik was, but neither was Kurt Thomas, whom the Bulls were able to use successfully.
Radmanovic’s minutes will probably be based on matchups, and the playing time of Teague will hinge depend on how the rookie progresses in practice.
Jimmy Butler and Marco Belinelli
Jimmy Butler: 20 minutes (17 minutes)
Marco Belinelli: 18 minutes (15 minutes)
If there is a change to the starting lineup, it will most likely come at shooting guard. Either Butler or Belinelli could make the case for consideration as a starter.
For Butler, it will hinge on how he adapts in his second NBA season. If he can maintain the torrid play that he exhibited in the NBA Summer League, he may supplant Richard Hamilton in the starting lineup. For now, he will be counted on as the primary backup to Luol Deng.
The possible playing time for Belinelli, who has been a starter in the NBA, is a bit more uncertain.
If you had been a starter, you would want to start every game imaginable. That should motivate Belinelli into having a good season.
I would not put a limit on Belinelli's projected minutes. They may rest more on his defense than his offense.
Taj Gibson: 23 minutes (no change)
Many feel that Gibson is on the verge of a bust-out, break-out, cult-inducing season. In the playoffs last season, he was the best player almost every time that he was on the court, an advantage that he should have going against other team’s second-stringers.
What helps Gibson is that Omer Asik signed with the Houston Rockets. That gives Gibson an opportunity at more playing time. But that may turn out to be a curse since he does have a penchant for getting in foul trouble.
Kirk Hinrich: 27 minutes (21 minutes)
The beloved Captain Kirk is back in a Bulls uniform and will be the starter at point guard for now. The truth is, with the timetable for Rose’s return unknown, Hinrich is a safe bet to be a starter. It is a distinction that may not change, even after Rose returns.
One reason is that the Bulls do not want to rush Rose back.
Hinrich is a very capable floor-leader who could excel under Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau.
When Rose starts to show signs that he can return to form, Hinrich will move into the sixth-man role or even take over as the starting shooting guard.
Richard Hamilton: 25 minutes (21 minutes)
This is the player most likely to be dealt this season. That is why I am hesitant to project his minutes.
In my heart of hearts, I can't see a scenario that has Hamilton ending the season with the Bulls. In the meantime, he will start in the first and third quarters and play sparingly in the second and fourth. Also to be considered will be the play of Butler and Belinelli.
Carlos Boozer: 27 minutes (no change)
Boozer will be the starting power forward no matter how well Taj Gibson plays. Originally, I saw the playing time for Boozer rising this season (29.5 minutes last season), but at 30 years old it would be wise to play him less.
He will be part of a frontcourt rotation that is weaker with Asik gone. Boozer may even be called upon to play center in order to exploit slower, defensively challenged teams that don't have a ton of size.
What makes the projection for Boozer's minutes difficult is that Thibodeau will not hesitate to sit him if he appears to not be in the game mentally.
Joakim Noah: 29 minutes (no change)
Noah will be in line for more minutes if he can stay healthy. Actually, if the Bulls do not sign another frontcourt player to a non-guaranteed contract, Noah may hardly ever leave the floor.
The center position is thin, and the hard salary cap that the Bulls have reached does not help matters.
At 6’11”, Noah is the tallest player on the roster, so his rebounding will be important.
Luol Deng: 31 minutes (33 minutes)
Deng played more minutes last season than any Bull and I believe that wore him down as the playoffs approached. While he did not appear tired, his shots were often flat-footed and he drove less to the basket.
Part of the blame can be placed on the torn ligament in his left wrist, but conventional wisdom suggests that he should play less as a result.
This season, Deng should play less than 35 minutes in order to keep him fresh and offer much-needed playing time to develop Butler.
I expect an increase in Deng’s minutes when Rose returns because the Bulls will not only be pushing for a playoff spot but playoff positioning as well.
Derrick Rose: 23 minutes.
For those who are wondering how many minutes Rose should play when he is medically cleared to do so, I say not much.
Having Rose play about 23 minutes coming off the bench is a perfect way to work him back into the flow. Very few players who suffered torn ACLs can play at the same level they were at before the injury.
Long story short, Rose’s return must be handled with extreme caution.