In an effort to build further on a specific request which was made of yours truly this past weekend …
This is the recap which Kelly Dwyer [BDL] posted concerning Saturday’s Chicago Bulls/Boston Celtics game:
Behind the Box Score, where the C’s outclassed the Bulls
This is the specific comment [#9] which yours truly then contributed:
When I was an active contributor to the Blog-a-Bull comment section 2 seasons ago, I did my best to inform the regulars there that Chicago’s problems at that time were NOT rooted in the poor [shot-happy] play of one Ben Gordon and that, instead, what the Bulls needed to do was:
1. Use Ben Gordon as their Starting Point Guard;
2. Use Thabo Sefolosha as their Starting Off Guard;
3. Use Luol Deng as their Starting Small Forward;
4. Use Tyrus Thomas as their Starting Power Forward;
5. Use Joakim Noah as their Starting Center; and,
6. Trade Kirk Hinrich, in return for either: A. The Scoring Player they needed to bring off their bench; or, B. An Interior Scoring Center.
7. Most Bulls fans were under the delusional impression that Captain Kirk was a better NBA player than Gentle Ben;
8. Ben Gordon was incapable of succeeding as a Prime-time PG, in the NBA, and was the player who Chicago needed to trade, in order to improve their prospects for the future.
If the Bulls would have done what I suggested and then Derrick Rose fell into their lap in the 2008 NBA Draft, they would not be where they are today.
How to fix the Bulls’ problems right now?
1. Cut Lindsey Hunter
2. Sign Von Wafer.
3. Scale back Derrick Rose’s MPG to 32.
4. Increase Pargo’s MPG to 16, as the Primary Back-up PG.
5. Sign a post-up Guard-Forward like, Bonzi Wells.
6. Use Aaron Gray as their Starting Center [until Tyrus is healthy].
7. Use Joakim Noah as their Starting Power Forward [until Tyrus is healthy].
8. Use the following rotation:
Rose + Wafer + Deng + Noah + Gray
Pargo + Hinrich + Salmons + Gibson + Miller
Wells + Johnson
That 12 man team, right there, would be good enough to make the playoffs in the EC this season.
Then, this is the follow-up comment [#13] submitted by Keith Singer:
You’ve done an excellent job of analyzing the Bull’s problems and made intelligent suggestions. Here are a few thoughts for you. Please respond on the forum or via e-mail, your choice (firstname.lastname@example.org).
1. Ben Gordon- Bulls management may have undervalued the contributions of Ben Gordon or they may have recognized his talents but decided that the asking price was too high. They probably felt that Gordon was too small to guard some 2’s and his defense was sub-par. They obviously thought that Salmons would step in and continue his production of last year. Personally, I felt Salmons would drop off closer to his career numbers. His defense was expected to be better than Gordon’s but that D has been disappointing. They probably felt that the cap space saved would be better spent on a free agent in 2010 than on Gordon. We won’t be able to assess the wisdom of their choice until the summer.
2. Derrick Rose- I think they expected a big season from Rose; they couldn’t have known that he would experience an ankle injury. Part of the failure of the current team is the sub-par year that Rose has experienced, thus far.
3. Tyrus Thomas- They couldn’t have anticipated the injury to Tyrus Thomas. I think they believed that Thomas would have been the starting PF all year. Yes, Taj Gibson is a rookie and looked good but Bulls Management expected a career year from Thomas. When Noah is out of position trying to block a shot or overmatched in girth, Thomas could double team or grab a rebound for which Noah would be out of position.
4. Aaron Gray- I think your point about Gray is interesting. I am not sure if Gray is as good as you think. Although I agree with you that he is on the roster and large enough to keep the larger centers out of the lane. We have not seen him play enough but giving him a chance is not a bad idea. Look at the Dallas Mavericks, they are utilizing a platoon system with Dampier and Drew Gooden. That could work with Noah and Gray as well.
5. Kirk Hinrich- I agree that Kirk Hinrich is overrated. He has had a sub-par season thus far. He was touted for his shooting and defense; both aspects of his game have been missing. The Bulls did sign a back up in Pargo, however he is a scorer more than a pass first point guard.
6. Von Wafer- It is tantalizing to think about his potential and how he could help the Bulls or any other team for that matter. However, you must remember the problems that Rick Adelman had with him. Adelman has proven that he is a fantastic coach but could not get Wafer to listen and learn his system. Other point guards are available like Brevin Knight who was a pass first point guard. I don’t know about his conditioning and ability to play today.
7. Bonzi Wells- An inside scorer would help the Bulls but Bonzi Wells caused trouble wherever he went. They would be better served looking for a post up player in 2010 free agency.
I think you make some good points and the Bulls certainly have their work to do the rest of the year and over the summer to improve. They are definitely not playing at the same level as the Celtics; but remember the Celtics are an older team. They Bulls should be building a younger team that will compete for a championship in future when the Celtics are rebuilding. Regarding the article by Kelly Dwyer, I couldn’t agree more. Luol Deng played well while the rest of the team was not as talented and not as well prepared as the Celtics. The Bulls do have their work to do but they do have cap money to spend in 2010.
Keith Singer, Esq.
Hopefully, Keith [and KD] won’t mind too much if we shift the discussion over to this location … i.e. to allow it room to grow in a place where it will be easier to moderate and ensure that other interested parties can have direct access to it without first having to sort through a series of unrelated comments.
The answers to your specific questions are as follows:
1. Chicago’s management … and a great many of the Bulls fans … have been wrong about the specific skill-set which Ben Gordon brings to the table in the NBA game.
Yes, Ben Gordon is a shorter Off Guard, when it comes to checking some of the taller #2/3′s in the NBA.
I. Ben Gordon is not considered a shorter player when he’s used defensively to check the Point Guard position. If he’s allowed to use his height/size to advantage … i.e. by gapping … and not required by his coach to apply “turn-the-screws” defensive pressure at all times, Ben Gordon is a capable defender at the PG position.
II. If/when Ben Gordon plays beside Derrick Rose, they become almost inter-changeable, at the PG and OG positions, minimizing any height advantage an opponent’s taller OG might have … due to the fact that the opponent’s guard tandem would then have to:
i. Cope with the Bulls’ ad hoc ”Switchability”, on defense, while still maintaining a physically solid player [Gordon/6-3, 200; Rose/6-3, 190] against their scoring/shooting guard [e.g. Ray Allen/6-5, 205; or, Kobe Bryant/6-6, 205]; and,
ii. Cope with the Bulls’ ad hoc “ability to generate high percentage shots which stem from dribble penetration” by either Rose or Gordon, for both [A] themselves and/or [B] their less dynamic teammates.
iii. Cope with the Bull’s ensuing height/size advantage at the Point Guard position, while attempting to Rebound and Defend against Rose and Gordon.
On Offense, Gordon’s specific skill-set [i.e. his ability to create his own shot and stretch the defense with long range 3's] is a terrific pairing with Rose’s ability to dribble penetrate.
III. On offense, when Derrick Rose is out of the game …
If Ben Gordon is used at the PG position, what’s required is:
* 1st, to get the ball out of his hands
[e.g. with a simple pass to either wing]
* 2nd, to get the ball back into his hands, in a scoring position, from a designated action which also allows his teammates to touch the ball
[e.g. with a simple UCLA cut/back screen to the block; and a straight-forward "Single-Double" action, Ben Gordon becomes a devastating scoring Combo Guard, in the mode of Vinny "The Microwave" Johnson.]
Used in this fashion, Ben Gordon is a High Level NBA player … who is worth every penny of a large, long term contract.
Chicago made a BIG MISTAKE in letting him go this past summer.
[Please Note: While there's a great deal to like about the specific skill-set which John Salmons has, as a Big Guard, when the starting SF on your team is Luol Deng ... who specializes in the mid-range game, as well, without really being able to stretch the D with the 3, or slash to the hoop in a first-class way ... then, it is simply not a good fit using him for major minutes beside a PG like Derrick Rose, who struggles with his perimeter jump-shot and a Center like Joakim Noah, who is not a high precentage back-to-the-basket scorer, or an efficient mid-range jump-shooter.]
2. Yes, Derrick Rose’s ankle injury has significantly reduced his overall effectiveness, so far this season … but, primarily it’s because Chicago has not yet replaced Ben Gordon’s ability to stretch the defense with long range 3′s and create open shots for himself and/or his teammates. If Rose still had this type of player beside him in the line-up for major minutes, his limited agility/mobility/explosiveness/etc. would not be such a detriment to the Bulls.
3. Yes, losing an athletic, energetic and exuberant Power Forward like Tyrus Thomas, for a major stretch of games, has been a huge factor in the Bulls’ poor play this season. In partnership with terrific overall athletes like Rose, Gordon and Noah [i.e shot-blocker #1A], last season Thomas [i.e. shot-blocker #1] gave Chicago 4 starting players who were each capable of Rebounding and Defending multiple positions on the floor during any given possession … which is a major advantage for a team.
4. It’s a total fallacy that a player needs to have a high degree of “NBA talent” in order to play effectively at the Center position. What matters most is:
- Does a player have the speed and quickness and stamina required to run the floor consistently in transition?
- Does a player have a solid frame with adequate size [i.e. some combination of girth, strength and length]?
- Does a player have a solid aptitude for the game [i.e. the ability to read the game and play with/off his teammates]?
- Does a player have solid eam attitude [i.e. unselfishness]?
- Does a player have a specific type of shot which he can make on a consistent basis [i.e. Catch & Shoot mid-range jump-shot; Drop-step power lay-up; Turn-around jump-shot; etc.]
- Does a player have the ability to pass the ball with his back to the basket?
If the answers to these questions are, “Yes”, then the player can succeed playing the Center position in the NBA.
The two simple equations look like this:
OPTION #1. The less “NBA athletic” talent a player has at the C position the more “NBA athletic” talent his 4 teammates must be.
OPTION #2. The more “NBA athletic” talent a player has at the C position the less “NBA athletic” talent his 4 teammates can be.
Aaron Gray [C, 7-0, 270] is plenty “good enough” to be used for spot minutes in the NBA.
5. Kirk Hinrich simply hasn’t been the same player since he lost his spot with the USA National Team.
IMO, no other player who participated with the USA national teams that failed to win Gold Medals at the 2002 and 2006 World Championships, and the 2004 Olympic Games, has been [psycho-emotionally] “damaged” more by those specific losses … and the impression which they created across the NBA … than Captain Kirk. It’s a real shame, too, as prior to his experience with that team … where his confidence was shot … he was on track to have an outstanding pro career, as a highly versatile Combo Guard, who could do a little bit of everything fairly well without excelling at any specific aspect of the game.
6. Von Wafer can be a difficult player to handle … but, only if your roster is filled with other players who are just as good or better than he is, as an explosive scorer at the wing position. This is not the situation with the Bulls current line-up.
7. Bonzi Wells … signed to a 1-yr, NBA veteran’s minimum contract … would not be a difficult player for the Bulls’ to incorporate at this time. When he knows his role, and is actually used in that role, exclusively, he becomes a very valuable post-up scorer for a team like Chicago, without a high percentage post-up player on its current roster. To get the Bulls to next season, without being totally embarrassed this year, he becomes a decent, inexpensive add that effectively addresses a specific short term need.
Thanks for your feedback!