If you've been watching Bulls games closely recently, you have probably noticed that it seems like the Bench Mob has been outplaying the starting unit ever since Derrick Rose sat out with his spate of injuries. The eye test often leads us to misleading conclusions, however, so let's take a look at how the lineups have performed statistically:
Top Five-Man Floor Units
Some general conclusions from this data:
1) The Bench Mob HAS significantly outperformed Thibs' starting unit in Derrick's absence. The stats are going to be skewed based on the fact that the Bench Mob is often playing against other teams' second string units, but they are fairly dominant when they are out there:
The Bench Mob unit's differential destroys the starters (+60 vs. +7) despite the Bench Mob playing significantly fewer minutes. This is because of their absolutely ridiculous 0.67 points per possession allowed on defense. To give you a sense of how incredible that number is, the least efficient offensive team in the league, the Charlott Bobcats, average .995 points per possession
2) There is some really good news for us Bulls fans. We've been a dominant team no matter what lineup we've trotted out there, but the best is still to come. Once we get Rip and Rose back, we can unleash what has been our most effective lineup that has played a decent sample size:
The Rose/Hamilton/Deng/Boozer/Noah lineup that was supposed to be our starting unit coming into the year has seemed to be incredibly rare; However, they have actually played the 2nd most minutes out of any Thibs combo at 166.1 minutes, or Luol Deng's 5 game average. This lineup would win 87.5% of their games if they could theoretically maintain their production for 48 minutes, which would translate to an astounding 72-10. Bulls fans should be pretty familiar with that number...
3) How good is our projected starting 5 unit? Let's look at how our best lineup matches up with the best lineups of the contenders out there: (at least 75 minutes played)
Surprisingly, the only lineup that has projected to generate more wins than our Rose/Hamilton/Deng/Boozer/Noah lineup is the Orlando Magic's junky Duhon/J-Rich/Turkoglu/Anderson/Howard combo. A lot of people don't consider the Magic legitimate contenders, so I guess that should allay our fears a bit. Our starting 5 still do considerably better than the best that the Thunder and Spurs can muster though, and we have a slight edge on the Heat. If we can ever get these guys healthy and in rhythm, we should be able to do some scary things in the playoffs.