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What Can Bulls Do At Shooting Guard?
Really, Bulls fans don’t have a whole lot to complain about right now. The team is 22-10, good for third best in the Eastern Conference, they’re blowing through the Central Division, and the beauty of it all is that they’ve only had seven games where Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah were healthy at the same time. When Noah does finally get back, Chicago has an opportunity to really make a serious run at the Eastern Conference Finals.
You’d think that would be enough, but the situation at the two guard has been so utterly frustrating that instead of rocking message boards and chats and radio shows with love for how well things have gone so far, all we’re hearing are questions about what starting-quality shooting guard the Bulls can trade for.
Several names have been floated around out there—Rip Hamilton, Stephen Jackson, Courtney Lee, O.J. Mayo—but nothing has come even close to consummation. Quite the opposite, actually; reports last week were that the team wasn’t really actively exploring anything in the shooting guard market, which makes when one considers Boozer’s huge contract, Noah’s huge extension, and the max money that Derrick Rose is about to get. Bringing in Hamilton or Jackson just isn’t realistic.
So it seems as if the team will have to turn to the guys they’ve already got to make themselves respectable at that position. It won’t necessarily be easy, but it won’t be impossible, either. The Bulls platoon of two guards might not be as bad as we think they are.
For starters, taking Keith Bogans out of the starting lineup could be extremely helpful. According to 82games.com, his net production is the second lowest on the team, ahead of only Brian Scalabrine. Both Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer have significantly more positive effects while they’re on the floor, and for all we know Bogans numbers here could look even worse were he not receiving the statistical benefits of playing with the starters.
Starting Brewer, who is averaging more points, rebounds, assists, and steals than Bogans, as well as shooting a better percentage from the field, from behind the 3-point line, and from the free-throw line, could have immediate positive effects. Bumping up both Brewer’s minutes and Korver’s while decreasing those of Bogans would get quite a bit more production out of the position.
Or, C.J. Watson could be given a turn playing alongside Derrick Rose. We’ve seen how explosive Watson can be offensively, and playing off Rose certainly couldn’t do anything to hurt that. Coach Thibodeau has said he’s open to experimenting with this, but so far he hasn’t done a whole lot with it.
The reason why is pretty obvious if you know Thibs at all; what he’s doing right now is working.
Chicago has won 13 of their last 15 games and seems to be holding off opponents even without Noah. Don’t be surprised to see the status quo continue for as long as the team is playing this well. The Bulls have enough experimenting to do with the pieces they’ve got that trading for a marginal talent is unlikely. And, as we’ve already covered, adding a more expensive piece is unlikely for cap reasons (unless, of course, that expensive piece is Carmelo Anthony, who isn’t a two guard anyway).
The shooting guards the team has are the shooting guards they’re probably going to finish the season with, which isn’t as painful as some might think.
LeBron for MVP, Despite What LeBron Thinks
Up to this point in the season, New York’s Amar’e Stoudemire is probably the league MVP. Not only is he averaging 26.4ppg, 9.1rpg, and 2.3bpg, but he’s got the Knicks up above .500 and on what appears to be a relatively easy road to the playoffs. Basketball is rejuvenated in the Big Apple largely due to his efforts, and that can’t be ignored when it comes to time to vote for the league’s most valuable player.
So when LeBron James says he has no chance at winning the award this year, you can admit that there’s some merit to that idea. It’s not necessarily for the reasons James is suggesting, however.
In an interview with FanHouse, James said, "When we decided to come together our Most Valuable Player chances kind of went out the window," adding, "They classify it as an individual award. They look at it like the less help you have, the more numbers you have, then the better chance you have to win the award."
That, of course, isn’t necessarily true, considering how many MVPs have won the award en route to really great runs in the postseason alongside other Hall of Famers. Michael Jordan had Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant/Dennis Rodman. Karl Malone had John Stockton. Shaquille O’Neal had Kobe Bryant, and later Kobe Bryant had Pau Gasol. That’s not even taking into consideration Larry Bird’s three consecutive MVP awards in the mid’80s, which of course came as a member of one of those most loaded teams in league history.
Sure, the last two years, James’s statistical dominance on Cleveland teams in which he was the only clear dominant player fits into what he’s trying to say, but it simply isn’t historically accurate.
If Miami ends up with the best record in the league, which wouldn’t necessarily surprise anybody, and James ends up averaging 25 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists a night, why wouldn’t he be a serious consideration for a third-straight MVP award? Without James, are the Heat hypothetically the best team in the NBA? Doesn’t that, combined with his personal stats and team record, make him the most valuable player in the league?
We all get what James was trying to say, and when The Decision was made over the summer, we all probably would’ve agreed with him. In practice, though, the guy’s still among the best in the league, and if the Knicks don’t hold up, there isn’t a whole lot keeping The King from winning this thing again.
Cavs Interested in Andray Blatche
A week ago, we said that Washington could potentially look into moving forward Andray Blatche now that Rashard Lewis has been brought to D.C., and a report by the News-Herald’s Bob Finnan suggests that the Wizards are, in fact, fielding offers for their team’s leading scorer.
The team currently showing interest is the Cleveland Cavaliers, who clearly are going nowhere fast and should be active at this year’s trade deadline with Antawn Jamison, Mo Williams, and the traded player exception they got in the LeBron sign-and-trade. While it appears as though the Cavs are holding on to the TPE in the hopes of eeking out a first-round pick as a third team in an eventual Carmelo Anthony deal, there hasn’t been any other clues as to what the Cavs would throw the Wizards’ way to match up with Blatche’s $6 million contract. It could be anybody, since nobody on the roster has played so well as to be untouchable.
Also according to Finnan, the Cavaliers are interested in New Jersey’s Devin Harris, whose contract is very similar to that of Mo Williams. It’ s hard to imagine that Jersey couldn’t get more out of Harris than that—if they end up trading him at all—but Cleveland’s interest shows their willingness to make a deal (or even a few deals) in a much-needed effort to shake things up.