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Enough About Vinny: The Other Problems Facing the Chicago Bulls

Josh Herman@@JoshHermanPJSCorrespondent IDecember 11, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 19:  John Salmons #15 of the Chicago Bulls stands on the court during the game against the Los Angeles Lakers on November 19, 2009 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers won 108-93. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Saying that the Bulls are kind of struggling is like saying that Derrick Rose can kind of jump, or Joakim Noah kind of resembles Captain Caveman.

But while Bulls fans everywhere are calling out for Vinny Del Negro's head (including myself), let's take a look at a few of the other problems facing a team that hasn't been competitive against a playoff team in nearly a month.

1. John Salmons is not Ben Gordon

Salmons, who was acquired in a trade with Sacramento last season, was brought in to be a shooter.

In his career, he's shot 45 percent and many Bulls fans (and I'm sure most executives) were hoping that he would soften the blow of losing last season's leading scorer Ben Gordon to free agency.

While Gordon had superstar qualities and a knack for hitting clutch shots, he proved that he couldn't get the job done on a consistent enough basis to be paid the money that he wanted.

Enter Salmons, a guy whose field-goal percentage had gone up pretty much every year since he entered the league in 2002.

After hitting 47 percent of his shots while with the Kings in 2008-09, the Bulls thought that they were finally bringing some consistency to the offense.

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However, they (and me) have been wrong.

Salmons, whose 39.5% shooting from the field this season is his second worst average of his career, has proved that he's, more than anything, a liability on the floor.

He's too small (6'6") to guard most small forwards and too slow to guard most guards. While his 1.7 steals per game this season are his highest average of his career, it can be credited to his change in position which allows him to guard slower shooting guards and use his length to disrupt passes.

To add to his lack of shooting and defense, he doesn't rebound or dish the ball, he's just looking to shoot.

His inability to help on offense in any aspect is partially the reason the Bulls rank 28th in the NBA in total offense, just ahead of the Bobcats and the Nets.


2. Did we forget our identity?

Last season, the Bulls found a way to win: play transition basketball.

Like most young, guard-heavy teams, they found that by running the ball, they could take advantage of their team's strongest assets.

And whether it was Derrick Rose's pure speed and athletic ability or Joakim Noah and Tyrus Thomas' ability to get down the floor quicker than the big men they were guarding, it seemed to produce wins.

Early this season, in wins over the Spurs and the Cavaliers, the Bulls showed off this ability to run the floor and amazingly enough came away victoriously.

Recently, however, the offense looks stagnant and tired.

They rely more on a half-court game, and with non-offensive big men like Noah and Taj Gibson in the post, there's no way for the Bulls to spread the floor and get open shots.

3. Finally, if the Bulls can start to play closer games, who should take the final shot?

What I really think is the big question facing the Bulls, is who is the go-to guy?

Is Rose too young?

Is Deng comfortable enough making his $10.4 mil. this season, or does he want to earn it?

Do you really want to rely on a center to throw in a game-winner (here's looking at you, Brad Miller)?

Is Kirk Hinrich a guy you can look at as clutch?

And if my point didn't get across earlier, John Salmons is not the answer.

So who is?

I believe that with the game on the line, the Bulls actually have two go-to guys, they just have to want it a little more.

Tuesday night against the Nets, with the game on the line, it seemed as if Derrick Rose and Luol Deng, the two leading scorers that night, were cowering in the corner, wanting the pressure of the team losing to the joke of the league to be placed somewhere else.

But if both players would just do their job, I think the Bulls could find more consistency, not just at the end of games, but throughout the full 48 minutes.

Rose needs to demand the ball and then use his quickness to get penetration. While he's there, a defender or two will probably crash down to double- or even triple-team him, leaving one or two players open.

Hoping that Rose would drive to Deng's side, and Deng's man leaves him, Rose can dish it for an open 15 to 20-footer, Deng's specialty.

And who knows, if Salmons can slow his role, if the team as a whole can learn how to take advantage of its strengths, and if Rose and Deng can learn to play a two-man game, then the Bulls might be able to salvage a season that is heading straight for disaster.

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