One of the more perplexing rumors to come out of the Chicago Bulls offseason originated from Chicago Tribune report K.C. Johnson who wrote that guard C.J. Watsonmay be an option at shooting guard.
Don’t get me wrong. I think Watson is a fine backup point guard, but a starting shooting guard on a team looking to win an NBA championship he is not.
Watson, in his first year with the Bulls after three seasons with the Golden State Warriors, played a pivot role on the Eastern Conference semifinalists, adapting his game to a much different system then the one he previously ran in Golden State.
While Watson saw his scoring fall from 10.3 points per game all the way down to 4.9 points per game, the 6’2″ guard found other ways to make an impact on the floor.
Watson brought his Defensive Win Shares (DWS) from a meager 0.53 in his three years in Golden State to a robust 2.0 in his first season under defensive-minded head coach Tom Thibodeau.
Watson was extremely efficient beyond the arc raising his three-point percentage from 31 percent to 39 percent.
C.J. Watson did everything he was asked of last year for the Chicago Bulls.
That’s just it though, he was asked to be a backup point guard, not a starting shooting guard.
While Johnson claims that Watson “played well occasionally in limited stretches alongside Rose” not single Watson/Rose combination was in the top 20 of Chicago Bulls five-man floor units last year.
Watson did his best work alongside Ronnie Brewer with Watson as the point guard. In fact, no unit with Watson as the shooting guard cracked the top 20.
Watson himself enjoys the idea of playing shooting guard as told to Johnson, “Whenever asked about the dynamic, Watson said he enjoyed playing off the ball and pointed to his tenure paired with Monta Ellis with the Warriors, when they shared ball-handling duties.”
While Watson may have enjoyed playing off the ball with Monta Ellis and the Warriors, the numbers again show Watson was ineffective as a shooting guard. In 2008-2009 not a single floor unit with Watson as the defined shooting guard hit the top 20.
In 2009-2010, two Watson and Ellis combinations did crack the top 20 but neither were particularly effective (+1 and -5).
Watson again found most of his success as a point guard alongside a shooting guard, especially that of Stephen Curry with the Warriors.
He may be a great backup point guard, but Watson should not be an option for the Chicago Bulls starting shooting guard.
Watson’s current role is his best role. If he continues to make strides defensively, he can become an even bigger part of the potential Chicago Bulls’ championship puzzle.