What will the Bulls rotation look like?

Preseason is finally over.  It seems to get longer every year.  The Bulls, in my opinion, performed fairly well.  Outside of Lu Deng, I thought all the players performed well.  The Bulls are talented, long, and versatile.  Unfortunately, with injuries to Rose and others during the season, we never saw VDN use a real rotation, and we know with VDN - things can get freaky.  So with that mind, here is what I think the Bulls ideal rotation should be.

Starters -

There has been a lot of back and forth in the media and on the various boards over who should start.  Our perimeter is set with Rose, Salmons and Deng.  The frontcourt is a more dicey matter.  Many people believe that Tyrus and Noah can't play together.  I disagree, they have played well together for various stretches over the course of the last 2 seasons - particularly before last year's trade when injuries forced VDN to give Tyrus and Noah big minutes.  I think we were 8-2 over that stretch with road wins at Phoenix and Houston.  In any case, I believe that Tyrus and Noah are the two most talented big men the Bulls have - and since there are considerable questions about Miller's stamina and Taj's overall play and prospensity for fouling (another 5 last night) I think you go with talent. 


Point Guard minutes -

This is easy, Rose should get whatever he can handle - which I put at 36 minutes a game.  Hinrich should get whatever's left, 12 minutes a game.  The Bulls have one of the top, if not the top, tandem of point guards in the league.  For that reason, Pargo and Hunter should never be in a position to run the point.

Rose (36) / Hinrich (12)

Shooting Guard minutes -

The big question here is should the Bulls try and find minutes for Pargo.  The short answer is no.  Pargo is a decent 3pt shooter and a pretty nice defender.  He is really good at pressuring the ball, and if needed, you could probably use him with Hinrich or Rose to bring defensive pressure.  But Pargo is so up and down, he can't be counted on for anything.  And he more than other player on the Bulls, has shown an inability to execute the offense.  He shouldn't play unless the Bulls are down 15 or up 15. 

With Pargo out the way, I think Salmons should log close to 32 out of his 36 floor minutes at the 2.  This preseason the Bulls went big, and I liked it (more on that later).  Salmons playing almost exclusively at the 2, keeps the Bulls big.  It also frees up more minutes for our talented forwards, who all expect to get minutes. 

Salmons 30 minutes at the 2 / Hinrich 18.

Small Forward minutes -

Oh Luol.  You haven't shown me anything.  Its hard me for to believe he is healthy, but until someone comes out officially and says Deng is still hurt, than I've got to believe that this is his 100%, at least for a while.  With that being the case, I don't believe you can pull Luol from the starting lineup.  Everyone talks about Tyrus sulking, but there have been reports of Luol being upset with Gordon taking his shots, Rose getting more publicity and VDN's offense.  I think pulling Luol from the lineup would make him regress, and we can't afford that.  Instead, I would just limit him to 27 minutes a night, until he proves he is ready for more.

Next up is JJ, and frankly, though I championed his selection and skills, I don't believe he should play.  At all.  Maybe by midseason he will show some improvement, and I wouldn't mind leaning on him in case of injury, but with a fully healthy roster, JJ just doesn't do enough good to outweigh the bad - his turnovers, his fouls, his inability to play without the ball, and most importantly the fact that when he is on the court, he is taking minutes from a better player on the bench.  I'm still firmly in the JJ camp, and believe he can develop into a starter for us over time.  But right now, the Bulls are too deep at his position. 

With Salmons getting his obligatory six minutes at the 3, that leaves Tyrus to take the last 15 minutes.  I was a firm disbeliever in Tyrus's ability to play the SF, and I still question his offense, especially against any type of zone.  But right now, Tyrus brings more positives to the position than Luol.  Tyrus certainly has proven, at least to me, that he can guard 3's.  He is moving much better without the ball so far this preseason (the whole team is) and his movement is best at the 3.  Tyrus is a nightmare match up at the 3, because of his size.  He isn't going to be able to take his man off the dribble but he should be able to crash the boards, play strong D, and be very hard to handle in the post and along the baseline. 

Deng (27) / Tyrus (15) / Salmons (6)

Power Forward

Tyrus is the starter but, Everbody Loves Taj Gibson.  And why not.  We all thought he would suck but he is actually good.  He plays good D, he can hit and open J, and unlike JJ, he seems to know what to do on the court at all times.  Still, he is a foul magnet.  And I worry about his rebounding.  Still, I think he is a pretty good option to play off the bench and should be someone you can play when Tyrus is having one of his off games. 

The Bulls from a defensive and rebounding standpoint are at their best when Noah is at PF and Miller is at C.  I wouldn't start them together, however, because I think we should be looking to limit Miller's minutes and because I think Noah's natural position is center.  He can do somethings out on the floor, but Noah can't make it full time guarding guys like Rashard Lewis and Josh Smith.  I think Noah is developing skills to be a very good C, so as much as possible, we should let him learn that position.  Still at the end of games, Noah/Miller may be our best option some nights.  So he should get at least a handful of minutes at the 4.  Therefore:

Tyrus (20) / Taj (16) / Noah (12)


I think the Bulls are going to surprise the NBA with how well the center position performs this year.  Looking at the PER differential stats, the center position was our biggest weakness.

I look for that to change this season, with Noah improving and Miller being here full time.  The center minutes are almost as easy as point guard minutes, the only question is how much power forward will Noah play.  I say, a decent amount.

Noah (24) / Miller (24)


At the end of the day, I believe the minutes should be broken down like this -

Rose (36) / Hinrich (12)

Salmons (30) / Hinrich (18)

Deng (27) / Tyrus (15) / Salmons (6)

Tyrus (20) / Taj (16) / Noah (12)

Noah (24) / Miller (24)

End Game Lineup

Outside of playing a Deng or Tyrus when they are having an especially good game, I would finish the games with Rose / Hinrich / Salmons / Noah / Miller lineup - which probably provides our best mix of scoring, rebounding and defense. 

Big vs Small

Over the last several years, we have gotten use to the Bulls going small.  When in doubt, go small.  It was a edict followed by Skiles, passed on to Boylan and finally fully realized with VDN and his Rose, Gordon, Hinrich, Salmons line-up.  The Bulls no longer have to go small.  They no longer have 3 talented small guards they need to get on the court.  They no longer have a deficit of forwards.  The Bulls have talented versatile, big forwards and guards.  The Bulls can go big with defense, athleticism and agility.  The Bulls should exploit the ability to play Tyrus at the 3 and to use Salmons or Deng as big 2's as much as possible.  Since we lack 3 pt shooting already, we might as well make up for it with defense and rebounding.  When the Bulls went big this preseason, the defense and rebounding were enough to smother what the opposing team did.  I would love to see them try this more during the regular season.

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