When the Chicago Bulls added Daequan Cook to their roster, they hit their 14-player limit. But his addition did more than that; it gave Chicago’s bench another weapon that they both wanted and needed and thus brought up the question of whether or not they have the deepest bench in the NBA.
We fell in love with last season’s bench mob and for good reason. They took the court and made it look like a seamless transition. Sure there were some weak spots, but for the most part the secondary unit was able to keep the Bulls anchored to a lead or fought back if they were losing.
With the bench mob gone, however, Chicago cast a whole new set of players: Nazr Mohammed, Vladimir Radmanovic, Marquis Teague, Kirk Hinrich, Nate Robinson, Marco Belinelli and Cook. One look at these new pick-ups will show that the majority of them are back-court players and a closer look will reveal that the two front court players rarely see any playing time.
So with Robinson, Belinelli, Cook and Taj Gibson anchoring the second unit (in theory anyways) does it translate to Chicago having the most threatening bench? The answer is leaning towards yes.
For the Bulls to really capitalize on their bench personnel they need to start utilizing everyone. Mohammed needs to see more minutes to gain comfort on the floor much like Belinelli needed in the beginning of the season. When Richard Hamilton went down with an injury, Belinelli was able to step up and fill in quite nicely because of the minutes he had seen before hand. The same principle needs to be applied to Mohammed.
Next there is Cook. He has only been with the Bulls for three games but he has only seen two minutes so far. I know he is new and still getting acquainted with everything but the faster he is assimilated into games the faster he will become an asset. As for Radmanovic, I have always liked him but he is old and virtually useless at this point in his career. He is a third string power forward and the two in front of him aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. It’s time for him to call it quits and hang up the jersey for good.
So with Robinson, Gibson and Belinelli getting good minutes per game and the hopes that Cook will join in that club soon the argument for the most lethal bench in the league can be made. Three of the four names can be subbed in to rest starters Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng and Hamilton. And let’s not forget a bright defensive star by the name of Jimmy Butler either. With a second unit looking something like this: Robinson (Derrick Rose upon his return,) Belinelli/Cook, Butler/Cook, Gibson and Joakim Noah I think the argument is valid about them having the deepest bench in the league. Cook’s versatility will allow him to play the two or the three and will thus open the two up for Belinelli or the three up for Butler and the tandem of Gibson and Carlos Boozer playing the four and five (as we have seen before) is scary to think about.
With the firepower and versatility that lies on Chicago’s bench and the ability to rotate players into several different positions I think that Chicago’s current bench not only is better than the bench mob of last season but will bring them significant benefits as the season goes on.