Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic had a Saturday night scoop:
Billy Donovan has seen enough.
The Bulls coach has made preparations to alter his starting five, a source said, with Tomáš Satoranský and Thaddeus Young replacing Coby White and Wendell Carter Jr.
The Bulls have lost four of five and have struggled with slow starts. They own a minus-17.6 net rating with White, Carter, Zach LaVine, Patrick Williams and Lauri Markkanen as their customary starting five.
“The first six minutes of games, if you look at the net rating and the numbers, we’ve been one of the worst teams in the league in that area,” Donovan said this week.
::Dwight Schrute “it’s true” meme::
It’s not what you want pic.twitter.com/YS97Gzyw0Z— Jason Patt (@Bulls_Jay) March 13, 2021
Interestingly, this new starting lineup combination of Sato-LaVine-Williams-Markkanen-Young has barely played together.
This coaching move has very interesting implications for both the game-over-game rotations as well as the standing of the team. If you’re not prioritizing ‘winning games’, then the slow starts shouldn’t matter. But as the Bulls find themselves with a Zach LaVine nuclear season and Thad Young renaissance propelling them to, uh, the East play-in conversation, they clearly want to give it their best win-now effort...at least for the next seven games before the trade deadline.
But I think these lineups were starting to harm development too. Weeks ago I reasoned that Coby White floundering as the starting point guard was ‘fine’ as it wasn’t affecting the other players. But as we’ve seen in the most recent stretch where they can only beat the sad-sack Pelicans, White’s tunnel-vision offensively combined with paper-thin on-ball defense was starting to harm the big men having to compensate.
Though then it’s more questionable why Carter is also being benched. Yes he’s been especially terrible coming out of the All-Star break against injury-decimated frontcourts. But you’d think merely putting in Satoransky at point would facilitate Carter more on both ends. So now as he’s coming off the bench with White it just kind of shifts those same combination problems to fewer, less important minutes. Also it may not be good for a player who is struggling mentally. Or maybe it is an effective wake-up call? I don’t know I’m no body language doctor.