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Bulls Mon Dec 31 2012

Reasonable New Year's Resolutions for the Bulls

Bulls_200.pngIf the Chicago Bulls' management and players were as self-aware of their faults as the bloggers, bar patrons, and barbershop customers in Buena Park, Old Irving Park, and Washington Park, then play-time would be much more enjoyable than it has been this season. The Bulls, who have cooled off their last couple of games after a great 8-4 start to the month, are still in a virtual first place tie with Milwaukee and Indiana atop the Central Division. New Year's resolutions are pretty easy to renege on, so here are some very simple resolutions that the Bulls could haphazardly achieve.

Lose some wait?

How long can you wait for Derrick Rose to get back into playing shape? Before the All Star Game? Sometime in mid-March? Will the old adage of "April showers bring May flowers (or Roses')" be acceptable? We all know the right answer is the one Tom Thibodeau bounce-passes to reporters; "When he's ready." Bulls fans are clamoring for #TheReturn of Rose. This weekend Aggrey Sam of CSNChicago broke news that Rose has been practicing with the team but in non-contact situations for the last few days, and plans to travel with them from here on out.

Ricky Rubio of the Minnesota Timberwolves, who tore his ACL and MCL last March, returned nine months later. He has been less than serviceable save for his first game back where his anxiousness to play overwhelmed his current capabilities. Rubio has a PER of 7.17 in an average of 18 minutes per game and doesn't play the second of back-to-back contests on the T'wolves' schedule. Rose has been working on his core and jump shot in his rehabilitation, but how long will it take for him to adjust his new brand of basketball where he's not hopping recklessly in the paint like an child experiencing his first bouncy-castle?

Give the five man unit of Teague-Butler-Deng-Gibson-Noah more opportunity to work together.

Thanks to the advanced stats website, you can see which five man lineup leaves the Bulls least vulnerable. That group is a +15 in the +/- statistic, which measures differential between what that unit does offensively and defensively per 100 possessions. Noah and Gibson are the toughest defenders in the Bulls' front-court rotation, which is basically three players deep (Boozer, when he is hot, is going in). Deng is having a career year in most basic offensive categories due to Rose's absence. The combination of Butler and Teague is the most intriguing moving forward. Teague has no problem driving to the basket and Butler loves crashing the boards. One creates his own shot, the other rescues bad ones. Teague needs his chance and Butler needs to keep playing his game but shoot the ball more frequently when open.

There are only three combinations the Bulls put together that out-perform the aforementioned unit in the +/- statistic. Those units involve a sequence of Belinelli, Robinson and/or Hinrich in some order. Belinelli has been hot shooting all of December, and Robinson and Hinrich take turns each game in terms of which point guard is going to hurt you and which is going to score enough to help you forget that he's hurting you. Obviously Thibodeau's not going to play the Teague-Butler unit 40 minutes a night, but they're only the 13th most used unit of the team. It's a low-risk, high-reward group. Why not give them more time out there?

A trade.

Nothing crazy like this, which even the mismanaged Sacramento Kings wouldn't agree to. I'm not asking for this trade to happen -- if the Brooklyn Nets cared any less about saving money, it'd still be too much. How about a minor trade? J.J. Reddick for Rip Hamilton, who can be bought out after this season for $1 million, and Marquis Teague, who could eventually be the starting point-guard for the Magic, whose current point-guard, Jameer Nelson, is often injured. The deal would help the Bulls this year, and with Rose return approaching, a spot-up three-point threat would ease his job offensively.

The new year has such promise for this well-to-do, overachieving Bulls team. If they stay the course, they'll still have the inside track for the third or fourth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. These New Year's suggestions are less constructive criticisms than they are food for thought.

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