May 28, 2013
With the Bulls 2012-2013 season in the books, it’s time to look back at the year. For right now, with the season still visible in the rear-view mirror, it makes sense to discuss what will stick with us about this season.
What follows are the things I will remember about each player from this season, ranging from quick thoughts to very quick thoughts, both good and bad, big and little.
Nate Robinson: When he was signed, I didn’t think he would be much more than John Lucas III: a small scorer that would be a backup point guard; a guy who could occasionally fill it up and possibly steal you a game. But Nate was so much more. By season’s end he jumped into my top three favorite Bulls to watch this year (behind Noah and Jimmy). He was just pure energy and scoring, and even though the mistakes were plenty, he made games more fun—and fun was something often in short supply with this Chicago squad. At some points, it looked like he had enough energy to power a small country.
Nate did something people didn’t see coming: he ran the team well while also being himself. That’s not an easy task when you’re a shoot first, second and third point guard. Some credit goes to Tom Thibodeau, but Nate bought into the system and it paid off for everyone.
With his contract up and his bags most likely packed, I can honestly say I’ll miss him—something I did not expect coming into this season.
More quick thoughts on Nate: his Karl Malone layup. His feud with Steve Novak over a stolen celebration. Then discount double-checking into eternity against the Knicks. His sneaky jump ball. How he brought the Bulls back from 14 down very late in Game 4 against the Nets, scoring 29 points after the third quarter and in turn playing the lead role in the most exciting playoff game of the season. After the game he said “I always think I’m on fire, kind of like the old school game NBA Jam…Whenever I’m in the game, I just play with a lot of confidence.” (If one quote could sum up Nate Robinson, it’s that one, or “shooter shoot”) Swatting LeBron in the playoffs.
Marco Belinelli: Another guy probably on his way out,Belinelli didn’tlook like a valuable signing early on, but started to contribute when Rip Hamilton went down and was inserted into the starting lineup. I’ll remember his game-winners against the Pistons (with a great save from Joakim Noah) and the Celtics most of all. Oh, and his celebration against Brooklyn in the playoffs that he got fined for.
Luol Deng: Deng going down in February, bringing more Jimmy Butler into my life. Leading the league in minutes per game again, because Tom Thibodeau doesn’t care about your rotations or rest. A down year from beyond the arc. Another productive season—good defense and solid scoring.
Carlos Boozer: Another solid year from Booz, even though his shooting percentage took a big dip (his lowest shooting percentage of his career and just the second time he shot under 50 percent over a season—he shot 49 percent in 2008-2009 when he played 37 games).Boozer not driving to the basket for about 18 straight games, then unleashing a pretty nice dunk, making everyone ask “why doesn’t he drive more often?” SO MANY FADE-AWAYS. ‘Bum slaying,’ in which Booz puts up big numbers against subpar teams. The surprising opinion from many that he was an All Star, even though it was mainly just three really good weeks around when the voting took place. SO MANY SCREAMS. No-showing the first two games of the Miami series. Using the force. Boozington being one of the best teammates in the league, cheering on (read: screaming for) teammates and continuing to be professional throughout the very open “amnesty Boozer” talk. Being the healthiest Bull once again.
[Late addition from @JoeyLeCroissant on Twitter: Carlos Boozer accidentally punching the ref against Dallas]
Joakim Noah: Noah being the MVP of the team. His 30 point, 23 rebound game against Detroit and his two triple doubles—one of which being his amazing 23 point, 21 rebound, eleven block game against Philly that still blows my mind to this day. Jo playing 38.3 minutes per game before the All Star Break, then being named an All Star for the first time in his career. “Point Noah.” Playing just 32.6 minutes after the All Star Break because of injuries and because that’s the right amount of run a center with foot problems should be getting. Him fighting through plantar fasciitis through two entire playoff series and staying the Bulls’ MVP even with that injury. Coming up huge in Game 7 against the Nets (24 points, 14 rebounds, six blocks). Trolling Chris Bosh and the Heat in the playoffs. First team All Defense.
Jimmy Butler: Becoming my second favorite Bull to watch (and surprisingly close to Joakim Noah). Having that unexplainable talent of being in the right spot on the floor at all times. Playing 48 minutes per night (like a lot of nights) and becoming the new Deng. Turning into a consistent three-point shooter while (at least from my memory) hitting nearly all of his open looks from beyond the arc. His great perimeter defense. Posterizing Chris Bosh. Growing into the shooting guard of the future (hopefully).
Kirk Hinrich: The Bulls having a much, much better record when he plays, even with his awful shooting. All the different injuries because he plays with “so much heart and grit.” That one time he hit a jump shot this season.
Taj Gibson: Gibson never really looking right all season. He started off slow, got injured, came back slow…he just never had a rhythm all year. His “one amazing dunk per postseason series” habit continuing—especially his dunk over Kris Humphries, because we all want to dunk on Kris Humphries.
Omer Asik: Averaging 12.2 points and 14.0 rebounds per 36 minutes.Oh, whoops. Never mind. My mistake. He did that in Houston.
Nazr Mohammed: Rarely missing a shot in the preseason, making me say “hey, maybe letting Omer Asik walk won’t be the worst decision ever.” Missing everything to start the season, making me say “Man, letting Omer Asik walk was the worst decision ever.” That time that he dunked when I had no idea he could still dunk. Also, this move. Actually playing pretty well towards the end of the season and into the playoffs, filling in crucial minutes for Noah when he needed a rest. The joke he made at the start of the playoffs that he was the Bulls’ secret weapon and Thibs was waiting to release him. Being a lesser Kurt Thomas. His knuckleheaded play when he shoved LeBron James.
Rip Hamilton: Injuries.Rip playing in the Miami series, shooting 43 percent and yet somehow still convincing people that he still had value and that Thibs made a mistake not turning to him earlier.
Daequan Cook: An amazing amount of confidence for a three-point shooter that shot 28.6 percent from three. That time he was the Bulls’ leading scorer when Chicago got blown out by Denver. Seriously, this guy just kept chucking. How he went 1-10 in the playoffs, when all the Bulls needed from him was a few buckets. Him stepping out of bounds over and over again in the playoffs, making one wonder if he knew the width of a basketball court.
Trade exception from Kyle Korver off-season deal: Not as much production as I would’ve liked. Also, less of a lady killer than Korver.
Vladimir Radmanovic: He went 3-3 for 9 points in garbage time in the Game 2 blowout loss against Miami. And he was tall…that’s all I got on this one.
Marquis Teague: Great ability to get to the basket, without any other ability…except the ability to turn it over. Not doing much in his first season, but remember Jimmy Butler didn’t do much his rookie year, so hopefully Teague can make a jump and become valuable next year.
Derrick Rose: That time he—HAHAHAHAH…we laugh so we don’t cry. But honestly (and sadly), I’ll probably remember this season most of all as the “Will Derrick return tonight” year.
And that is extremely unfair to all the guys who actually played, because for all the reasons above—good and bad—they are what we should remember.
May 15, 2013
Rather than the normal rapid reaction, this one will just be a few quick thoughts.
First, a lot of credit to this Bulls team. They were shorthanded the entire season, but never used that as an excuse. They had their nights that they faltered and fell flat, but it’s games like tonight that show you how much fight and effort this team put in every time they went out on the court. When I look back in a few years, that’s what I will remember. That and Game 4 against the Nets.
The effort was always there from the players on this team. From the new guys like Nate Robinson (who when he was signed I thought he was just an overconfident shooter, but actually bought into Tom Thibodeau’s system pretty well—and provided much needed scoring), to Jimmy Butler (taking a huge step forward into a starting role, developing a reliable three-point shot and shutting down perimeter players), to Joakim Noah (who has been giving the effort his entire career but emerged as Chicago’s MVP this season, often facilitating the offense and leading the defense). Even guys who were planted on the bench for long stretches of the season like Marco Belinelli and Nazr Mohammed stepped up into huge roles at times, including the playoffs.
This Bulls team wasn’t always the most exciting team, but they had their moments, and all you can ask of a team is that they fight until the very end. Chicago did that.
A long, injury-riddled season with tons of off-the-court news has finally ended for the Bulls. Here’s to a better 2013-2014.
Feel free to leave your thoughts on the season below in the comments
May 13, 2013
MVP (Most Valuable Player): LeBron James did what an MVP does. He recorded 27 points (9-20), seven rebounds, eight assists and two steals. The Bulls as a team recorded just 12 assists, although Chicago only had 19 baskets—so not many chances to get an assist.
LVP (Least Valuable Player): No one player earned this. It should go to the entire Bulls team. They started 1-12 from the field, were even worse in the third quarter (more on this in the next section) and put up some historically bad numbers. Nobody shot well for the Bulls, who went 25.7 percent from the floor. Nate Robinson did go 0-12 from the field, so only a handful of people in history shot worse than him. We really shouldn’t be surprised that Nate came crashing back down to earth.
Defining Moment: The nine points in the entire third quarter are probably a pretty good summary for this game. The Bulls went 2-13 from the field in the third frame, or 15.4 percent. They also turned it over seven times for good measure.
X factor: The Bulls point guards score scored more points for Miami (two), than for Chicago (zero). Shout out to Adam Reisinger for pointing this out. Marquis Teague tipped in a pass on defense to score two points for the Heat, but went 0-2 at the end he was actually supposed to score. That was nothing compared to Nate Robinson’s 0-12, though.
That Was … history: The Bulls set franchise records for fewest points and lowest field goal percentage in a playoff game. Their nine third quarter points were also a franchise low for the postseason. It was the worst shooting percentage for a playoff team since 2004 (Hornets, 24.4 percent). The Bulls worst playoff field goal percentage coming into tonight was 31.1 percent against Detroit in 1990.
In short, that was one of the worst playoff performances ever. At least he Bulls have an excuse of being injured. This very long, frustrating season could have just one game remaining, as the series heads back to Miami.
April 29, 2013
Following a riveting three overtime victory in the United Center, the Bulls have a chance to close out their first round series with the Nets at Barclays Center.
That long game took its toll on the Bulls though. Kirk Hinrich will miss Game 5 with a bruised calf. Hinrich played 60 minutes in the triple overtime thriller, tallying 18 points and 14 assists. Hinrich was in a walking boot at shootaround today, clouding his status for the rest of the week.
With Hinrich out, it’ll be interesting how Tom Thibodeau changes the rotations. Nate Robinson will likely get the start, but he won’t be stopping Deron Williams much. Maybe the Bulls will go with Marco Belinelli at the point, and have Jimmy Butler guard Williams on defense. Who knows, but losing Kirk, especially on the defensive end, is going to really hurt the Bulls.
Hinrich wasn’t the only guy that the long game took a toll on. Joakim Noah’s 25 to 30 minute limit went out the window pretty much in regulation. Noah played just over 28 minutes in regulation, and then played the entire first and second overtimes before fouling out early in the third OT. He recorded just less than 39 minutes, well over the limit mark, but Thibs felt he needed the win and it wasn’t going to come without Noah.
But Noah wasn’t the most important part of this comeback—that distinction goes to the enigma that is Nate Robinson.
When Robinson got clocked by a Gerald Wallace screen, I joked that “you can’t kill Nate, you can only make him angry, which makes him shoot more.” I had no idea the offensive onslaught that was about to come from the little point guard that could. He dropped 23 points in the fourth quarter, on 9-11 from the field and dished two important assists when the Nets were overplaying him. He hit a few ridiculous shots, led by the go-ahead launch that he hit with 1.7 remaining in the first overtime.
Robinson took a game that the Bulls were out of—14 down with less than four minutes to go—and made it one of the most exciting playoff games of the past few years. But his, and the rest of the Bulls’, work is not finished. They have to win one more contest before they can switch their attention to the defending champs.
And that task just got harder with the news that Hinrich is out. Williams was shooting 35.4 percent in Brooklyn’s three losses this series. That’ll be where the Bulls miss Hinrich. Not to say Kirk wasn’t helping on the offensive end, but his defense on Williams was key in three single digit wins. It’s always been a team defense, slowing down Deron, but now that will be the case more than ever.
Marquis Teague might get his first real playoff minutes, after recording seven seconds earlier in the series. Teague scored eight points and had one turnover in 20 minutes against the Nets on December 15. Marco Belinelli, who played just four minutes in Game 4, will also get more run.
It’ll be an uphill battle winning in Brooklyn without two of their starting point guards. But if the Bulls have showed anything all season, including the last four minutes of regulation in Game 4, it’s that you should never count them out.
November 14, 2012
Teague, Butler, Deng, Taj, Noah. That’s who finished the game for the Bulls. If it weren’t for some missed foul shots and untimely turnovers, the Bulls could’ve pulled this game out over the Celtics.
Although the lineup didn’t work, it was nice to see some of these guys getting minutes, and important minutes at that. Teague rarely left the bench for the first few games, but an injury to Kirk Hinrich forced Thibodeau’s hand. And in the end he trusted Teague more than Nate Robinson. Butler got the nod over Rip Hamilton. It might not have worked this game, but the confidence will help in the future. When Rose returns, maybe the four other players on the court won’t just stand around.
One person who always sits around in crunch time is Carlos Boozer. Boozington hasn’t played in five straight fourth quarters, if I remember correctly. A $15 million dollar player that your coach is afraid to use in crunch time because his scoring is iffy and his defense is nonexistent. Boozer was even scoring well against Boston, going 7-14. But his negatibe-17 plus/minutes probably sealed him to the bench for the final quarter. It definitely wasn’t that Taj was playing great, he finished 1-4, but he was playing defense, as usual.
The problem with the lineup is that they aren’t very good on offense. Deng was 11-20 but isn’t great at creating shots. As much as I love Noah, he isn’t the best option for a creator. They would be tough to score against, and that showed when for the first time all game they were stopping Boston, but the offense needs work.
The Bulls can’t allow a team as good as the Celtics to shoot 50.6 percent and still expect to win the game. It just won’t happen much. The fact that the Bulls were still in the game, after Boston shot so well and Chicago turned it over six more times is a good sign. But that’s two games, against the Thunder and Celtics the Bulls failed down the stretch.
Boston and Oklahoma City are very good teams, but even against lesser competition, the Bulls are going to have a hard time closing games out without their go-to scorer. Hate to say it, but Joakim Noah isn’t that guy. It can be Luol on certain nights, but even that is questionable. If the Bulls want to win, getting off to good starts is going to be important. Oh and they have to make free throws down the stretch too.
And that’s the opposite of what they did against Boston. Boston shot 56 percent and had 82 points through three quarters. So the Bulls were fighting an uphill battle, without two point guards. The Bulls fell, but they don’t like to lose two in a row.
The Suns are coming off an impressive win. Phoenix had seven scorers in double figures, led by Goran Dragic with 21, and downed the Nuggets. The Suns won because they only turned the ball over six times while the Nugs had 15 turnovers. Phoenix has held onto the ball all season, ranking third in turnover percentage (.118). They also got to the line 21 times, and made 18 of those freebies (81 percent). Their 15-9 offensive rebounding margin didn’t hurt either. Those three things helped them overcome Denver shooting 53.9 percent from the field.
The Suns defense is what the doctor ordered for the Bulls. Chicago has been struggling on offense all year, hitting 100 points just once, against the Cavaliers (they scored 115 that game). But they should have a good chance to do it against the Suns. Phoenix is 27th in defensive rating (108.9) and 4th in pace (94.6), which is a recipe for a lot of points. Opponents have a .516 effective field goal percentage against Phoenix, good for 28th in the league.
The Bulls are right in the middle of the road offensively, 15th in offensive rating (102.9) and 19th in effective field goal percentage (.469). That tends to happen when your best offensive creator is Joakim Noah.
After playing six of the first seven at home, the Bulls start the circus road trip. The Bulls play their next five on the road and don’t return home until the 26th. Luckily for the Bulls, it starts off easy against the Suns, but it gets tougher, visiting the Clippers, Trail Blazers, Rockets and Bucks.
Teague Time: It would be nice to see Marquis get these type of minutes more often. With Rose and now Hinrich out, I would ask the question what’s to lose? Nate Robinson isn’t going to help the team much in the future. Robinson only got a one-year deal. The Bulls can keep Marquis on his rookie deal until 2015-16.
Omer Asik didn’t look like much when he came into the league. But he grew to be one of Thibodeau’s most trusted players. Asik and Gibson closed games, including big playoffs matchups, over Noah and Boozer. When Rose is back, Teague probably won’t be closing any games, but this confidence can only help him grow.