After the Cavs game, I wrote
"Last night's win is going to make me sick. I can feel it ... So little of this was skill, so much was luck. And I can already see Gordon cleaning out his locker in a few months because of it."
It's eight days later - we've dropped the four games since. Ben's talking about landing in New York, and an inside source said Kirk is untouchable because he and Noc are the leaders of this team. Also, you're fucking me.
Because for all the talk of the Bulls' porous defense, our offense is the glaring weakness. We're 25th in offensive rating (compared to 18th in defensive rating), and we haven't been top 20 in offensive rating since Michael Jordan was a Bull. Read that last sentence a million times. Then ask yourself why management has decided to let our main/lone offensive force walk. Hmm...but onward we move!
BABY STEPS TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP
Logic tells us that priorities #1 through #50 should be trading away our bad contracts. But I've accepted that that won't happen, so here are some other ideas to get something out of this season.
1) Back-To-Back Titles
Kaman and Camby will return soon. So will Monta Ellis and Gilbert Arenas. Mike Dunleavy and Jermaine O'Neal are already back. If we play our cards right, we can end up with the league's 3rd worst record, putting us in good position for a second consecutive #1 pick.
The correct hand is the Rose-Gordon/Hinrich-Deng-Tyrus-Noah lineup. Speaking of, we have...
2) Vinny's Biggest Coaching Mistake
For all of Vinny's talk of getting consistent play from his guys, he's done the opposite as a coach. Vinny's most-used lineup this season (Rose-Gordon-Deng-Gooden-Noah) has played just 91 minutes together. That means there isn't a Bulls lineup averaging three minutes per game. That also means we have less than two 48-minute games' worth of data available to evaluate any one lineup. Two games ago there were BaB threads discussing how well we've been playing recently - how are we supposed to learn anything about the guys on our own roster?
Just to rub it in a little, the minutes-played by other teams' most-used lineups: 276 for the Magic, 369 for the Hawks, 444 for the Lakers, 457 for the Cavs, 827 for the Celtics.
That doesn't mean the Rose-Gordon/Hinrich-Deng-Tyrus-Noah lineup will give us any more wins. Those lineups have combined to go 4-11 during their stints with a -43 differential in 104 minutes. But maybe we'll establish some cohesiveness, especially around Rose, while developing Tyrus and Noah. I'm looking for positives here.
3) Why Brad Miller / Hawes / Kaman Aren't the Answer
According to nba.com's hotspots, we've made just 52.5% of our attempts around the basket this season. Pathetically, that's better than last year's 51.7%, and close to the 53.1% rate we posted in 2006. But compared to teams that have a clue - Spurs (56.4%), Lakers (56.8%), Magic (57.1%), Hornets (57.4%), Celtics (57.5%), Hawks (57.8%), Nuggets (58.8%), and Cavs (61.8%) - we're giving up an awful lot of easy points.
Our current big men are unimaginably bad at scoring from close range. Gooden's at 52.0%, Noah's at 51.4%, an Tyrus is at 49.3%, although some of the names mentioned in BaB trades, including Brad Miller (50.0%), Spencer Hawes (50.3%), Chris Kaman (53.3% last year) aren't much better. Andrew Bogut, the lumbering oaf, is at 61.7%. Christ.
But more than all of that is...
4) Hustle! Character! Hustle!
I had three questions going into this season: 1) Would we be competitive (yes/no)? 2) Would we extend Gordon (yes/no)? 3) Would we set ourselves up to bring in a free agent in 2010 (yes/no)?
Silly me hoped for a 'yes', 'yes', 'yes', which would've given Rose playoff experience while putting ourselves in position to have three legitimate scoring options by 2010.
Instead, we're on track for an inexcusable 'no', 'no', 'no', which leaves me praying for a ping pong ball to save us from three more years of Hinrich-Deng-Noc mediocrity.
At this point, with Gordon on his way out and no free agents coming in anytime soon, we have to push for a Krause-like blockbuster deal. It's 'have to' because it's desperate. No Gordon, no 2010 cap space, and no top-3 pick means no options and thus no playoffs for a while - and perhaps no Rose after that. If Bosh or Amare are available, throw the world at them.