Just like any other team, the Chicago Bulls expect their starting squad to carry the weight of the season. But two weeks in, the bench has outdone the starters and is setting a pace that will define the entire team at the end of the season.
After their bench finished 29th in scores last season, the Chicago Bulls now sit at position 12 in the NBA in points scored off the bench. Led by Veteran additions Andre Drummond and Goran Dragic, the Bulls’ bench is more established this season. With young players like Ayo Dosunmu and Coby White leading the second unit last season, the Bulls experienced a major snooze in experience.
Despite the Bulls’ big three – Zach LaVine, Nikola Vucevic, and DeMar DeRozan combining for a mere 33 points on 11-for-43 from the field, the bench secured a 106-88 victory against the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday. The Bulls bench treated fans to a masterclass and left everyone feeling that the squad can genuinely go far.
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) October 10, 2022
The Bench Scored 49 points to secure a win against the Hornets
Led by 29-year-old Javonte Green, the Bulls second unit filled the gap left by their starters and improved the team’s record to 5-4.
Javonte Green dropped a season-high 17 points on 7-for-7 from the field and 3-for-3 from long range. He led the Bulls in points and came second after Hornets’ Kelly Oubre Jnr’s 24 points. Goran Dragic scored 16 points in 15 minutes – his best-scoring performance of the season.
The two contributed 23 of the 49 points from the Bulls’ bench and outsourced Charlotte’s 28.
Patrick Williams dropped 16 points as Nikola Vucevic also contributed 14 points and 13 rebounds, giving the Bulls their second straight win.
”I think that having everybody involved is going to help our team grow,” coach Billy Donovan said, ”and it also takes the pressure off those guys, where if they don’t have a great shooting night, you’re still giving yourself an opportunity to win.”
Derrick Jones Jr played for 16 minutes and dropped 10 points, while Alex Caruso added 6 points.
”Just giving the starters that extra energy that we’re supposed to give them, they played a lot of minutes last night, so try to give them a break,” Green said.
Derrick Jones Jr. got WAY up for this block 😳
— Bulls Nation (@BullsNationCP) November 2, 2022
The Bulls’ bench has been its stronghold
The 2021/2022 season wasn’t in their favor as they finished 28th in goals scored off the bench registering only 26.7 points per game. But after Wednesday’s win against the Hornets, the Bulls now sit at position 12, averaging 36.1 points scored off the bench.
Clearly, the addition of Goran Dragic has brought tremendous changes to the Bulls’ bench. He has been averaging 9.4 points in 17.3 minutes per game and is now the Bulls’ leading scorer off the bench.
Andre Drummond, who was ruled out for the Wednesday game after injuring his shoulder in a game versus the San Antonio Spurs is putting up a near double-double of 9 points and 10.2 rebounds in 16.8 minutes.
Coby White, who also never played in Wednesday’s game, has an average of 8.1 points on 38.2 percent from the floor. Javonte Green, who effortlessly dropped 17 points on Wednesday after playing for 27 minutes, has been averaging 6.4 points 1n 18.3 minutes of action.
With Lonzo Ball yet to show up for the 2022/2023 season, Ayo Dosunmu took his position as the Bulls’ starting point guard. And while he has been putting up an impressive performance this season, averaging 12.5 points and 3.3 assists per game on 50 percent from the floor and 38.7 percent from three, Dosunmu is going to return to the bench once Ball recovers.
Bulls Nation, join us in wishing Lonzo Ball a happy 25th birthday 🥳 pic.twitter.com/cZ7d9lOdzh
— Bulls Nation (@BullsNationCP) October 27, 2022
A wealth of talent on the Bulls’ Roster
Drummond Green and White is a clear indication that there’s a wealth of talent on the Bulls’ roster, which the team has been missing for a long time. And if the bench continues with the kind of performance we’ve seen in the last nine games, Bulls fans should be ready for a treat.
Though one thing to note at this point is that the Bulls are winning as a team and not on the shoulders of a particular player. DeRozan and LaVine are great players, yes, but counting on them to carry the team throughout the playoffs is simply unrealistic.
After struggling to defeat the NBA’s best teams last season, the Bulls have already registered a few noteworthy wins this season. They’ve already defeated the Miami Heat, Nets, and Celtics which were among the playoff teams last season.
Zach LaVine dropped 20 PTS in Q4 to lead the @chicagobulls to victory in Brooklyn 🔥
He had 29 PTS, 4 REB, 5 AST overall pic.twitter.com/H9LuTCfJgx
— NBA (@NBA) November 2, 2022
Considering that the Bulls didn’t make any significant changes to their starting five over the Summer, these achievements can largely be attributed to the bench.
Clearly, upgrading from Tristan Thompson and Matt Thomas to Dragic and Drummond is probably the best thing the Bulls’ management did.
There’s a lot of proof to support this; the Net rating of the Bulls bench is now 6.1, the second best in the NBA from -0.4 last season.
Through 9 games, Bulls' bench is 12th in NBA in PPG (36.1), 15th in 3PM per game (4.2) and 2nd in total +/- (+39) after ranking 29th (26.7), 29th (3.2) and 18th (-16) in those categories last season
— Rob Schaefer (@rob_schaef) November 3, 2022