We have finally reached the conclusion of the Chicago Bulls Player Value Rankings. Here are links to Part 1, 2, 3, and 4. Today in Part 5 I cover the heart and soul of the Chicago Bulls. Enjoy.
15.) Nazr Mohammed
14.) Cameron Bairstow
13.) E’Twaun Moore
12.) Aaron Brooks
11.) Kirk Hinrich
10.) Tony Snell
9.) Mike Dunleavy Jr.
8.) Pau Gasol
7.) Taj Gibson
6.) Doug McDermott
5.) Nikola Mirotic
4.) Jimmy Butler
3.) Tom Thibodeau
2.) Joakim Noah
1.) Derrick Rose
GROUP B: “The Heart of the Bulls”
3.) Tom Thibodeau
I know, I know, Tom Thibodeau isn’t a player, but hear me out. Thibodeau is still as valuable of an asset as any current Bulls player. I’m convinced you can give Thibodeau the 2012-13 Philadelphia 76ers and he’ll find a way to nearly 50 victories. Thibs is a magician.
Thibodeau has had Derrick Rose available to him for a whopping 10 games the past two seasons. Nonetheless, the Bulls have gone 88-66 in the regular season without Rose in that stretch, good for a .571 winning percentage. Thibodeau’s defensive scheme is a nightmare for opponents, his players buy into the system, and he is obsessed with the game of basketball. Sure he may leave guys in for too long, but the guy is a basketball genius. I wouldn’t trade Thibs for any other coach in league (yes, even Pops). The Bulls are never going to trade Thibs for anything or anyone, but if they did in some alternative universe, his trade value is through the roof.
Yes, coaches can be traded. The Los Angeles Clippers acquired Doc Rivers from the Boston Celtics last June for an unprotected 2015 first round pick. Considering the Clippers will be one of the top teams in the league this season, the return was pretty underwhelming for a coach of Rivers’ caliber. Thibodeau would figure to bring in more of a haul in a hypothetical trade.
This summer included some rumblings of Thibs potentially being dealt. First Bill Simmons dropped a bomb by saying he heard that, “if the Grizz totally clean house, the Memphis owner will look to trade for Tom Thibodeau (and) give him an SVG/Pistons-type deal”. That, of course, never came to fruition. Another rumor floated that the Lakers wanted to interview Thibs for their vacant coaching position. ESPN LA reported that if the trade went down, the Bulls wanted the Lakers’ No. 7 pick in the 2014 draft. That sounds about right.
If Thibs was ever traded, the Bulls would demand a top-five pick or a player of equal or higher value. Once again, Thibodeau just signed a new contract and will be on the sidelines in Chicago for many years to come, but Thibs is still a tremendous asset.
2.) Joakim Noah
Rose is the best player in Chicago, we get it, but Noah is much more than that. Noah is the voice in the locker room, the anchor of the defense, and the spark of energy the Bulls need game after game. Noah’s confidence, motor, and charisma are contagious to this team. If Rose is the face of the Bulls, Noah is the heart. The heart of the Bulls was pounding stronger than ever last season.
Noah quite simply had one of the most decorated seasons in Bulls history. Noah set career-highs in points (12.6), rebounds (11.3), assists (5.4), and steals per game (1.2) while sporting a career-best 20.06 PER. Noah’s renaissance season earned him his second consecutive All-Star appearance, first team All-NBA honors, and Defensive Player of the Year. He did all of this at the price of a modest five year, $60 million contract. The assists per game were extraordinary for a center. Noah averaged a ridiculous seven assists per game post All-Star break, ranking 13th in the league. Noah’s vision and passing instincts are something to behold. Adding Pau Gasol into the mix will give the Bulls the best passing frontcourt in the league. As improved as Noah was offensively, he makes his money on the other end of the floor.
Noah can do everything defensively. He is a beast in the post, but he’s also adept at switching on pick-and-rolls and defending away from the basket. He’s also elite at protecting the rim. According to SportVu, Noah held opponents to a 47.2 field goal percentage at the rim, ranking seventh in the league (min. five FGA at the rim per game and 70 GP). Noah also topped all centers in RPM (4.57) and WAR (11.30) while leading the league in defensive Win Shares (6.6).
Noah is unlikely to replicate this kind of success next season. Rose is naturally going to take scoring and passing opportunities away from Noah while Gasol is going to get his fair share of rebounds and blocks. But numbers have never been an accurate way of depicting Noah’s true value. As Stacy King says, Noah is the “heart, hustle, and muscle” of the Bulls. That’s not going to stop for a long time.
GROUP A: “The Face of the Franchise”
1.) Derrick Rose
Derrick Rose has appeared in 10 of the Bulls’ last 164 regular season games, is owed over $60 million the next three years, and yet, he’s still the Bulls’ most value asset. Unless the former MVP proves he can still play, Rose’s reign atop this list might not last much longer.
What’s even more alarming than Rose’s weak knees is how poorly he’s performed when “healthy”. Rose sported a staggeringly-low 9.82 PER in the 10 games he played last season, shooting a dreadful 35.4 percent from the field. Rust is rust, but he looked like a shell of his former self. He consistently blew layups at the rim, turned the ball over, and shied away from contact. Just weeks earlier Rose was the unofficial MVP of the preseason, averaging the second most PPG (20.7), while drawing fouls left and right (9.43 FTA per game). His 28.63 PER in seven preseason games was one of the highest marks in the league, but it was a mirage. Rose wasn’t able to shake off the rust in only 10 regular season games before his year was cut short due to a torn medial meniscus in his right knee. Rose’s play in the FIBA World Cup this summer after getting back to full health was even less encouraging.
Rose was the fifth option on the court every time he played in the World Cup. He was content with dribbling the ball past halfcourt, passing ahead to another player, and standing on the perimeter for the rest of the possession. Rose essentially took the tournament off. There were flashes of Rose demonstrating aggressiveness and athleticism, but those plays were few and far between. He ended the tournament averaging 4.8 points and 3.1 assists per game while shooting 25.4 percent from the floor and an embarrassing 1 for 19 behind the arc. Rose scored zero points twice, including the gold medal game, and was severely outplayed by World Cup MVP Kyrie Irving. Rose said his poor play was due to his different role on the team, but I don’t buy it. Even as a role player those numbers were unacceptable given the level of competition. I understand Rose is going to need more time to work into shape, but it’s not a good sign to be playing this poorly when he’s on the floor.
Rose has turned in better results in the preseason thus far, scoring 17 points in just 28 minutes over two games. Rose scored 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting on Monday against the Wizards and even knocked down a 3-pointer. He fearlessly drove at the rim and finished with regularity. Even so Rose struggled on Tuesday against Detroit, shooting 0-for-4 from the field with just one assist to two turnovers. I wouldn’t look too much into preseason stats, but Rose should be more consistent at this point in the offseason with so many games already under his belt.
I just don’t see Rose looking like his former self this season. With the additions of offensive weapons like Gasol, Mirotic, and McDermott, Rose is going to be more passive than usual. He’s going to need the entire season to get his rhythm and timing back. Rose isn’t going to be able to take on the scoring burden that’s been asked of him in the past. Rose’s numbers aren’t going to be pretty, but as long as the Bulls are winning, he’ll take it.
Rose is the Bulls’ top trade asset even if he struggles this season. There would be a huge risk for any team dealing for Rose, but to some teams he’d be worth it. Even the slight prospect of Rose returning to his MVP form would interest tons of teams across the league. Rose just turned 26 years old on October 4th, which is amazing considering he’s wasted the last three years of his career. Even if Rose is the top trade asset on the Bulls, he’s not going anywhere. He’ll be in Chicago for the long haul.
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