This season, the Chicago Bulls‘ core group of reserves will be known as the “Bench Mob 3.0”.
The nickname of Bench Mob first came along three years ago during the 2010-2011 season when the Bulls recorded the best record in the NBA due in part to the strong play of their reserves. However, Taj Gibson is the only member of the original Bench Mob left on this year’s team.
Despite losing key members of their bench of the past two seasons such as Omer Asik and Nate Robinson, Chicago’s bench is still looking strong entering the 2013-14 NBA season.
What makes Chicago’s bench so special this season as they have a near perfect mix of veterans and young players. It is important to have a solid balance of savvy, experienced players alongside young energetic players, which is exactly what the Bulls have. The Bench Mob 3.0 is led by led by Kirk Hinirch, Mike Dunleavy and Taj Gibson. Alongside them will be second-year point guard Marquis Teague and sharpshooting rookie Tony Snell.
Another reason why I expect Chicago’s bench to be very successful this season is because of how versatile it is. The main weakness of Chicago’s bench last season was their 3-point shooting. With the loss of Kyle Korver, the Bulls tried to replace their 3-point specialist with Marco Belinelli.
However, Belinelli did not get the job done as he only averaged about one 3-point field goal per game while shooting an unimpressive 35 percent from behind the arc. The Bulls addressed this issue by signing veteran free agent Mike Dunleavy and drafting Tony Snell.
Dunleavy and Snell will surely help Chicago improve upon their 3-point shooting woes from last season. Dunleavy, who played with the Milwaukee Bucks last season, finished eighth in the NBA in 3-point field goal percentage, shooting just under 43 percent from long distance.
Snell achieved great success from 3-point range last season while playing at New Mexico, where he averaged just under two 3-point field goals made per game while maintaining an average of 39 percent from behind the arc. An interesting statistic from Snell’s three seasons at New Mexico is that he improved his 3-point field goal percentage each season. The Bulls hope that Snell can continue to improve upon his already impressive 3-point shot.
Another area in which the Bulls’ bench excels is on the defensive side of the ball. Chicago’s two best defenders coming off of the bench are Taj Gibson and Kirk Hinrich. Gibson, who is referred to by Bulls announcer Stacy King as the “Secretary of Defense,” has averaged 1.3 blocks per game or better each of his four seasons in the NBA.
Alongside Gibson, Hinrich is known for his pesky and aggressive on-ball defense. He currently finds himself fourth on the list of all-time leaders in steals in Bulls franchise history.
Overall, Chicago’s combination of solid offensive and defensive players, as well as a healthy balance of young players and veterans is what will make their bench successful in 2013-2014. If coach Tom Thibedou wants to preserve a lead, he can call on Gibson and Hinrich to come in and play lockdown defense and force turnovers.
If Chicago is down late in the game, Thibs can call Dunleavy or Snell’s number to come in and knock down a big 3-pointer. The overall versatility of Chicago’s reserves is why the Bulls will have one of the best benches in the league this season.