With the Bulls moving away from what was considered one of their greatest strengths in a cost cutting effort to save themselves from the Luxury Tax and future penalties I thought I'd ask the question how valuable was the Bench Mob?
A picture of them.
As I type this many transactions have not been finalized but a few things are certain a large part of the bench is going to be replaced by lesser players on cheaper contracts. Next season is truly going to be challenging with Rose on the self and Deng's choice being kept secret it makes the reliance for depth even more essential.
But while many fans are frustrated with Bulls management one thing is certain Derrick Rose's ACL injury changed the direction and the future of many players that made this team great and the Bulls had to make hard choices for many different reasons, money and performances played factors.
CJ Watson played a big role on this team and gave Derrick Rose one of the better backups in the league but his injury problems and play had started to falter by late in the season he was getting out played by John Lucas 3 and at times Mike James. Maybe part of that was due to injury but the truth is he probably was never a great fit with Thibs. While CJ Watson's game did change from the Golden State chucker mentality his play was just too inconsistent and the playoffs that only magnified the fact that he could be replaced by a younger cheaper option. That turned out to be Marcus Teague or Kirk Hinrich depending on how Thibs uses them.
While Watson provided good shooting from three point range Teague should provide the Bulls with more transition points and less reliance on outside shooting. One of the major issues with Watson for me was his lack of driving skills and I believe his defense really dropped off against and more athletic Sixers team.
Ronnie Brewer was probably the most widely know casualty of the Bench Mob even before Derrick Rose' ACL injury. The writing was on the wall with the selection of Jimmy Butler and half way through the season Brewer wasn't getting many minutes even with all the injuries. Instead Thibs opted to play Deng an absurd amount of playing time. With Jimmy Butler getting limited minutes he did show flashes to management that he could replace the role that Ronnie Brewer filled. While the Bulls will miss Ronnie's defense and trademark backdoor slashing I believe they will gain in Jimmy Butler a more athletic 3 that has a good knack getting contact on his drives. I believe that will payoff for the Bulls he also showed great foot work and the ability to even guard LeBron James at times. I realize some here don't wanna jump on the Butler bandwagon but I believe he'll play a decent role next season and will be a Taj like steal in the draft. This defense on LeBron is vet like.....
With the Kyle Korver trade still pending it's pretty safe to say he's probably the one player the Bulls will miss most out of the three departed. Of course it's because he opens the floor and gives the Bulls a deep threat that was one of the best in the league. His departure probably effects the Bulls the most because of his instant offense and it will be interesting to see how the Bulls replace his shooting...if it's with Kirk Hinrich then get ready for some 80 point games. While cheaper options like Michael Redd are rumored I just don't think there's anyone to fill that void and Rip's shoulder may be hanging by a thread by Christmas if he makes it that far.
It would appear the front court may return and I believe Taj will have a great season with Thibs limiting Boozer's role and of course it being a contract year for Gibson soon. I wouldn't be shock if Taj is the starting power forward by Christmas. Moving Boozer to a sixth man role might not be such a bad option with Korver and Watson gone no doubt the scoring is going to be tough.
It will be interesting to see how the Bulls replace Korver if at all.
But how good was the Bench Mob last season? Interesting statically it might surprise you... I check out NBAstats.com and surprisingly the Bulls bench was ranked 23rd last season and 25th the year before.
Next season will be a struggle I don't think it's as bad as it may seem right now and their replacements may just surprise people. Just maybe the Bench Mob was overrated.