Looking at the current Chicago Bulls roster am I the only one reminded of the 2010-15 rosters. Those rosters routinely utilized the bench nightly to alter the course of events or extend leads. This is significant because the coach, Tom Thibodeau, had a history of playing starters career threatening minutes. However he played the likes of Ron Brewer, CJ Watson, Jimmy Butler, Omer Asik, John Lucas lll, Taj Gibson, Kurt Thomas, James Johnson and Kyle Korver consistent minutes off the bench. That formula landed the Bulls in the playoffs every year from 2009 to 2015.
Which brings me to the current roster and its potential. One could argue that Kris Dunn, Shaq Harrison and Ryan Arcidiacono are today's defensive equivalent to Brewer, Watson and Lucas lll. In fact, Dunn when healthy is a capable starting point guard. Additionally Daniel Gafford certainly offers a more athletic version of Asik. His ability to finish around the basket is a case in point. There is a two way player on this current roster who resembles Kyle Korver and that is Max Strus. Denzel Valentine figures in that conversation also. His basketball IQ has been underappreciated and underutilized. Thaddeus Young offers the veteran leadership and physicality that Gibson and Thomas brought to the table.
Finding an equivalent Butler is a little more problematic. However Chandler Hutchison plays with reckless abandon, almost to his detriment. I submit he has many of Butler's attributes. This observation is not meant to diminish Butler's contribution. But a healthy Hutchison shows gazelle-like offensive talent. An improving outside shot makes that comparison more realistic. Furthermore his tenacious will to defend lends credence to that juxtaposition.
The proposed starters offer some similarities as well. Derrick Rose and Zach LaVine represent the team alpha dogs. Neither of them could be identified as stellar defensively. Athletically Wendell Carter Jr. shows promise of potentially duplicating the contribution of Joakim Noah offensively. The disconnect shows up in basketball IQ where Noah was superior. Carlos Boozer was a double/double machine. Folks forget he was a two time All Star in Utah and potentially HOF mentionable. Richard Hamilton's time with the Bull's was "forgettable". Coby White clearly stands a chance to more productivity.
Admittedly, Luol Deng clearly gets the nod over the current starting small forward contingent. Yet when healthy Otto Porter Jr. and Tomas Satoransky bring playoff experience to the position. That experience could be invaluable to this young nucleus.
I offer this comparison/evaluation to illustrate that this current roster is not void of talent and measures up favorably to the 2009-15 Playoff teams.
Watch out Giannis? By the way, I'm sure Max really thanks you. Thanks for the optimism, and this sort of is how we were thinking last season, that this team couldn't possibly be one of the worst in the league. And then everyone lost their jobs. Having a prepared, organized, successful NBA coach, like Thibodeau, should make a big difference with Billy Donovan. It's why among the few things the new management guys have said is that it is a more talented roster than its record suggests. Sure, there were the injuries, and while easy to dismiss as an excuse, basically the front court—Markkanen, Carter and Porter—missed an average of 30 games each, basically half last season. It's likely the starting front court for 20-21. Can they all finally make it through a season for the first time since they've been together? The Bulls don't project yet as a playoff team because of the uncertainties and the improvement in the East with Durant and Irving back, the Heat coming fast, John Wall back and looking good already (dunking in a recent pickup game) and perhaps five other locked in teams. But it does sound like with the success of the Orlando play-in that the NBA will give chances to ninth and 10th place teams to get into the playoffs. It's not a high bar, but the Bulls certainly should be there. I know; I've said that before. But this time I really mean it, right?