The 2011-12 season for the Chicago Bulls looked very promising with the team’s core intact. Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, and Joakim Noah were all back and ready to win. The Bench Mob had not suffered many changes either. Kurt Thomas was gone, but everyone else remained along with the additions of the rookie Jimmy Butler and veteran Mike James. With good team chemistry, talent, and desire, Chicago was bound for success.
As the season began, the Bench Mob was where they belonged: contributing to what the starters had done so far, but it was not long until that would change. Injuries came up and plagued the Bulls. Derrick Rose and Richard Hamilton suffered various injuries throughout the season. Deng tore a ligament in his left wrist and was out until he felt comfortable enough to play. With the absence of Rose and Hamilton and Deng’s limiting ability to play, the Bench Mob would have to step up to continue the Bulls’ success.
Ronnie Brewer was placed into the starting lineup often as Hamilton was inactive for the majority of the season. Brewer did not provide the offense Hamilton was meant to bring the Windy City, but he defended well and averaged 6.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.1 steals during the regular season.
C.J. Watson found himself as a starter for a few stints when Rose was sidelined. Although Watson is better off as a backup point guard, he filled in for Rose well enough for the Bulls to continue winning. He averaged 9.7 points, 2.1 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 0.9 steals.
John Lucas III saw a good deal of playing time due to the multiple injuries Rose suffered. Lucas, who is not much of a distributor, showed that he enjoys to score. Often he would put up a plethora of shot attempts, but it would not be much of a problem as he did a sufficient job running the offense. He averaged 6.7 points, 1.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 0.4 steals.
Rose’s injuries also resulted in the signing of veteran point guard Mike James. James had a few stints with the Bulls during the regular season only to be signed for the remainder of the season at the beginning of April. He played in only 11 games but did well with what he was given averaging 4.8 points, 0.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 0.4 steals in an average of 10.9 minutes per game.
Kyle Korver saw his first starts in a Bulls uniform this season because of yet again, injuries. Korver usually performed well when starting, and throughout the season he continued his sharpshooting with a 43.5% three-point field goal percentage and 43.2% field goal percentage. He averaged 8.1 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 0.6 steals.
Jimmy Butler played in 42 games, but he never received many minutes, Despite this, Butler showed his confidence by defending well and being aggressive. He averaged 2.6 points, 1.3 rebounds, 0.3 assists, and 0.3 steals.
Taj Gibson had a satisfactory season coming off the bench. Gibson always comes to play, and that’s what he did averaging 7.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 0.7 assists, and 1.3 blocks.
Omer Asik continued to have his offensive struggles, but he performed well on the defensive end. Asik was strong with his defense and rebounding continually doing his best work in those areas. He averaged 3.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 0.5 assists, and 1.0 block.
It would only be fair to mention Brian Scalabrine, who did play 28 games during the regular season averaging 1.1 points, 0.8 rebounds, 0.5 assists, and 0.2 steals. Scalabrine did not do much to help playing wise, but he always cheered on his teammates, gave advice, and as usual, fans everywhere loved him.
Individually, the numbers do not amount to much, but together, they show the dominance of the Bench Mob from preseason to the playoffs.
In the two preseason games Chicago played against the Indiana Pacers, the Bench Mob was responsible for approximately 37.8% of the points scored by the Bulls. They averages 53.2 % on shooting, 19.5 rebounds, 7.5 assists, and 35.5 points in the two wins.
During the regular season, the Bench Mob had an even bigger impact. Before the All-Star break, the second unit averaged 44.2% on shooting, 18.7 rebounds, 10.2 assists, and 39.9 points. Of the baskets made, about 41% came from them. Following the break, the Bench Mob did even better than the first half of the season as they averaged 42.3% for field goals, 22.1 rebounds, 11.5 assists, and 41.1 points. About 43.1% of the points accumulated by Chicago as a whole were contributed by the Bench Mob.
The playoffs were a struggle for the entire team, but even so, the Bench Mob managed to do an adequate job averaging 38.1% for field goals, 19.3 rebounds, 10.7 assists, and 32.5 points with nearly 38.5% of the points coming from them.
While many teams struggled during the shortened season, due to the lockout, the Bulls had depth that kept them going. Injuries piled on as much as games did, yet they still prevailed because the starters had players who would back them up. There were even times when the Bench Mob would outplay the starting five, and the win could be credited to the bench players. Overall, the self-proclaimed Bench Mob was very successful, and they were also accountable for a good amount of the Bulls’ overall success.
Final Grade: A