COMMENTARY | When the Bulls let a 27-point lead turn into a one-point loss against the Milwaukee Bucks Monday, it was pointed out Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau used only eight players in the game, and used the three reserves (Nate Robinson, Jimmy Butler, and Taj Gibson) sparingly in the second half.
Some people suggested without proof that Thibodeau was making a statement about the quality, or lack thereof, of the players the Bulls acquired when they broke up the Bench Mob this summer. The Bench Mob was the name given to the Bulls' reserves from Thibodeau's first two seasons, a group recognized as the best bench talent in the league.
Kyle Korver, C. J. Watson, Ronnie Brewer and Omer Asik were not re-signed by the Bulls, who had to make some tough financial decisions in light of new contracts for Derrick Rose and Gibson, as well as continuing contracts for Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer. They did not want to lose the players, but they kind of had to.
At practice Tuesday, Deng tried to defend his coach and the current Bulls backups, saying it is unfair to compare them. He also said "some of them are struggling with their (new) teams," referring to the former Bulls.
So let's take a quick look at just how the former Bench Mob is doing now that they have been spread to the NBA winds:
Omer Asik - Losing Asik was the story of the summer for the Bulls, who lost him when the Houston Rockets offered him a three-year deal worth $25 million. the collective bargaining agreement made it easier for the Rockets to pay him than the Bulls. Asik is starting for the Rockets and averaging a double-double with 12 rebounds and 10 points per game.
Kyle Korver - The Bulls' main 3-point threat last season, Korver is starting for the Atlanta Hawks, the first time in his career he has been a regular starter (he started 100 games over two seasons for the Philadelphia 76ers in 2003-2005). He is averaging 11 points per game.
Ronnie Brewer - Brewer is starting for the surprising New York Knicks and averaging seven points per game and shooting 46 percent from the field.
C.J. Watson - The only one of the departed Bench Mob not currently starting, Watsom is coming off the bench for the Brooklyn Nets and averaging 6.7 points per game. He is also averaging twice as many assists as turnovers (2.2 to 1.1).
Considering their current success, is it any surprise the Bulls have had trouble replacing that group?
Kent McDill has covered the Bulls for three different companies: for United Press International from 1985-88, for the Daily Herald newspaper in Arlington Heights, Ill., from 1988-99 and currently for NBA.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title "100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die'' published by Triumph Books.
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