It has been a series of three different story lines as of late for the Chicago Bulls. When they faced the Milwaukee Bucks in Milwaukee they not only won but four of the seven bench players got minutes. And of those four, three played more than 10 minutes. The next day though coach Tom Thibodeau only played three bench players against the same team. Finally, last night when they played the Dallas Mavericks Coach Thibodeau played all seven of the bench players and all but two played more than 10 minutes.
So what’s the pattern? Why do the bench players play some nights and not others? The only logical answer is that Coach Thibodeau doesn’t feel comfortable with them on the floor unless it’s a blowout (like against Dallas.)
His lack of faith in his second team is a problem especially moving forward in the season. If Coach Thibodeau can’t trust his second unit enough to put them on the floor then the starters will get worn out before they reach the mid-point of the season.
Not only that, if a player gets injured who will Coach Thibodeau opt to send in as a replacement? These are just a few questions that Chicago must address before the NBA All-Star Game.
Chicago’s bench is comprised of seven players: Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler, Nazr Mohammed, Marquis Teague, Nate Robinson, Marco Belinelli and Vladimir Radmanovic. Of these seven players only three of them are averaging more than 10 minutes per game (Gibson, Robinson and Butler.) This makes sense seeing as they come off the bench as players who can shift positions and rest a different starter every time. Gibson can rest either Carlos Boozer or Joakim Noah while Robinson and Butler can rest any back court player that needs to come out.
So it’s easy to see why they get the minutes they do. But that leaves us to wonder whether or not the other four bench players are ever going to become important parts to the team.
If given the chance to play minutes that matter I believe that the remaining bench players can make a positive impact for this team. Radmanovic has the ability to score in several different ways and if used correctly off the bench could end up being what Antawn Jamison is to the Los Angeles Lakers. Same goes for Belinelli. Teague may be a rookie, but so is Butler and there is no reason why Teague shouldn’t be seeing more minutes than he is because we know once Derrick Rose returns he most likely won’t get any minutes at all.
That leaves only Mohammed. Mohammed is a solid defender but like most aged veteran centers he can’t contribute much to the offense. But his stature would be an effective way to fill up the lane and deter any crafty guards from getting into the paint.
The bottom line is that if Coach Thibodeau can’t find the confidence to play the bench players more often, then the starters will wear down when the season matters most and they may fall down the rankings in the Eastern Conference.