The Bulls lack a playmaker at the shooting guard position. This is pretty much as self-evident to not need further explanation. But there's a difference between lacking a luxury and needing a necessity. The Bulls' shooting guard situation is much more in-between than noisemakers are allowing fans to realize.
I'm not saying that the Bulls would not be a better team adding a shooting guard with a better plus-minus efficiency than Keith Bogans, who can operate at a higher volume, to the status quo. But nothing comes for free and whatever additions are made are at the expense of an exchange in personnel or usage rate.
I'm not saying that no available shooting guard is of the caliber that elevates the Bulls chances of winning a championship. Those guards are out there, but we all pretty agree that that guard is not Tracy McGrady, right? So already, we agree that 'anything potentially better than Bogans' leaves us as fans in the same NBA Hell which has haunted Jazz fans for about the last 20 years.
This raises my next question: given the strengths of the Bulls, what's the point of adding a shooting guard who scores more points but makes the defense worse? Isn't the advantage a push, at best, that may just look prettier on the TV screen?
The Bulls were pretty great last season. And let's be honest, did anyone over-perform to a level not-repeatable?
The status quo of the Bulls is pretty strong. Ironically, it's that strength which furthers the myth the smallest addition is a cumulative gain. What's easily forgotten isn't what's lost in exchange via trades, but also that the addition of overall mediocre free agents scoring at a higher value also takes the ball out of better scorers' hands -- Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer, and Luol Deng -- so that player better be worth it.
Beckley Mason hit some great points on schematic improvements the Bulls can make to instantly improve the offense and makes the rational case that the Bulls lacking a playmaking shooting guard isn't the same as the illusion of any playmaker at the position amounting to a tangible improvement to the team's production:
Still, this team won 62 games last year with the league’s best defense and it’s 11th best offense. A tweak here or there might serve them well, and there’s no doubt adding a player with shooting, defense, and one-on-one scoring capabilities like Arron Afflalo would be a boon.
The offense doesn't flow through Rose, but from him. A lot of times, especially at the end of games, when he has a titanic ability to defy determined defenders and will his way to the rim, this works out just fine. But as a philosophy, it lacks the elegance-and more importantly, the unpredictability-of the read-and-react systems in Los Angeles, Houston and San Antonio.
Bogans and Brewer are accurately maligned for their inability to create in isolation, but that's what Derrick Rose and Carlos Boozer are supposed to be doing. The Rose-Boozer-Deng trioka, along with Noah terrorizing the offensive glass, is enough firepower to sustain one player who primarily impacts the game on the defensive end-it didn't bother San Antonio much during the Bowen years (though Bowen was, admittedly, a killer from the corner).
So how to the Bulls cure what ails them? The antidote may be as simple as getting back to the flex-motion principles that served them so well at the start of last season. Kevin Arnovitz has already detailed why this particular Bulls squad is so well equipped to thrive in the flex.
Simply committing to a system that makes use of the Bull's glut of intelligent passers and cutters rather than one that requests all defenders eyes and elbows focus on Derrick Rose may be improvement enough. You don't want Ronnie Brewer, or even Luol Deng, camping in the corner. You want them curling hard off a murderous Joakim Noah screen, or flaring to the short corner and encouraging ball and player movement that leaves help defenders poorly positioned to prepare for Rose's furious drives.
When that stuff doesn't work, well, Derrick Rose is still Derrick Rose.
The idea that the Bulls are "a player away" for a title is bunk. They were the best team in the NBA for 82 games last season despite two of their four most important players being injured for a ton of games.
No contender is without serious flaws. The quest to build a perfect team is a fool's errand, but a team that plays together perfectly-that's something attainable.
Again -- and if you straw man me, I will retaliate -- no one in their right mind is saying that the Bulls would not be better with more scoring on the wings, a starter at the opposite wing of Deng with the ability to create points with and without the ball, the type of guy who can punish defenses for over-committing to Rose.
I'm not saying the Bulls shouldn't pursue adding a shooting guard because of some mystical chemistry risk or illusion of the purity of living and dying with guys brought up in the NBA through the franchise.
I'm saying that the Bulls are a great team as is, without the illusion they're any better than a fringe title contender. I'm just also saying that most shooting guards getting their names dropped don't change that and a lot of trade scenarios sacrificing combinations of size, quickness, and defensive I.Q. make the team worse.
Caron Butler, Vince Carter, and maybe even Jamal Crawford and Jason Richardson don't look all that much better than McGrady right now, in the grand scheme of things, do they?