As the orchestrator of the Bulls infamous Bench Mob, CJ Watson had a season full of ups and downs, mostly due to nagging injuries to him and Derrick Rose. Now that he’s closed the Bulls season shut after making one of the most dumb-founded passes in the history of basketball, it’s time to break down the 2011-2012 season for CJ Watson.
Watson started off the lockout-shortened season on a strong note, shooting 46% from the three-point line through out the first thirteen games of the season. Even though he missed a chunk of games in January due to an elbow sprain, he didn’t slow down much after that. Shooting at a 44% clip from behind the line, CJ was the Bulls best three point shooter heading in to the all star break. Keep in mind, a lot of these shots were off the dribble at the end of the shot clock.
Along with his lights-out shooting, he was scoring in double digits for Chicago in just 23 minutes of play per game. While Watson’s defensive prowess wasn’t on the level it was the previous season, he was still quite the pest. Even though he wasn’t racking up steals, his on-ball defense was above average. One of CJ’s best performances came against the Suns in the absence of Derrick Rose. His 23 points and 5 assists set the tempo and allowed the Bulls to cruise to a victory without their MVP. All in all, during the first portion of the season, Watson did his job and he did it well. He was a good facilitator for the bench mob, and he did an admirable job of filling for Rose.
After the all-star break though, a lot of things changed for the worse. Opposing teams had a much better idea of how to defend the Bulls without Rose and nagging injuries caught up to CJ. Four games after returning from
a concussion, CJ found himself sidelined again. This time it was a sprained ankle. He would miss five games, and upon his return it was clear that he was starting to wear down. Although his percentages from inside the line are far too low to begin with, they plummeted even more. He shot 35% from both the field and beyond the three point line, including 32% in the month of April. That wasn’t the worst of it, and that’s not the reason that some Bulls fans are tired of him. After Derrick Rose was presumed out for the playoffs, Watson shot the ball at a horrendous 24% from the field and 26% from the three point line. Although his assist numbers took a leap, CJ was much of a non-factor for the last five games. Still, CJ is a shooter and shooters shoot. At the end of the day, he was playing with injured feet, an injured shoulder and had never really got a chance to recover. He did do one thing very well though. One of the most underrated aspects of CJ’s game is that he rarely turns the ball over. He turned the ball over less than two times a game for the season, just 1.2 times a game against Philly. That’s significant considering the 76ers love to force turnovers and the Bulls can’t stop them on the break. And then he made that pass. The one that ended the Bulls season. That’s where most Bulls fans decided that they were done with him. After the heartbreak that fans incurred watching Derrick Rose hit the deck in game 1, I felt like Watson was just playing a sick game with the hearts of Bulls fans everywhere.
At the end of the day, it’s hard to give CJ a grade because his first half and his second half were like night and day. He helped the Bulls win a great deal of games last season, he hit a bunch of “thank goodness he made that, we needed that” three-pointers, but he was a primary reason they lost the important ones.
I can’t, in good conscience, give him a failing grade after learning that he had surgery on both his feet after the playoffs, especially considering how banged up he already was. At the same time, I definitely had to drop him a grade point just for that pass to Omer.
Final Grade: C-