Oct 12, 2012; Champaign, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler (21) and guard Nate Robinson (2) and forward Taj Gibson (22) and center Nazr Mohammed (48) and guard Marco Belinelli (8) after a timeout during the second quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Assembly Hall. (Mandatory Credit: Bradley Leeb-US PRESSWIRE)

The Battle to Become the Bench Mob 2.0

Over the course of the past two seasons, the Bulls have experienced much success. A large, contributing factor to this success was the Bench Mob. Chicago’s second unit would come to play every night, and there were even times when they would outplay the starters. But when the Bench Mob was dismantled this past off-season, one concern was whether the incoming bench players could live up to that standard. Ten games into the season, the so-called Bench Mob 2.0 is not cutting it.

Coming off the bench, Nate Robinson is not performing too bad. He is averaging 12.0 points and 4.0 assists. Where he hurts the team is with his 2.2 average for turnovers. Robinson also takes some questionable shots at times, and he needs to find a way to limit his turnovers and only take quality shots. It would also help to find a way to get his fellow bench members more involved. The bench is struggling to score, and they cannot improve if they do not receive opportunities.

Then there is Marco Belinelli. He was brought in to fill the void of Kyle Korver when Korver was traded. Unfortunately for the Bulls, Bellinelli is not shooting in the same way that Korver brought the hot sauce. In the beginning preseason, Belinelli faced many shooting woes, but near the end of the preseason, he showed more confidence. The regular season is featuring Belinelli shooting 39.1% from downtown. That is not a bad percentage, but it is not serving the Bulls as well as they would like. The Bulls as a whole are not very good at three-point shooting, so they rely on Belinelli to help fill that hole.

Jimmy Butler has seen an increased role this season averaging 4.7 points in 13:00 minutes of play. Butler has not necessarily performed poorly; he just does not receive enough playing time to create a bigger impact since he plays behind Luol Deng. Deng is doing well, but his massive amount of playing time has prevented Butler from being more effective.

Taj Gibson is the lone, true member remaining from the original Bench Mob, and he is doing pretty solid averaging 6.9 points and 4.3 rebounds. Gibson’s only real issue seems to be his mid-range jumper seeing as it just has not been falling as much as of lately. Nazr Mohammed on the other hand has not done much averaging 0.6 points and 1.6 rebounds in 6:12 minutes of play. This limited amount of playing time could be a result of Joakim Noah’s early success. Even so, Mohammed was a surprise in the preseason showing his offensive presence in the paint as well as his rebounding ability. Now, he is struggling to produce much at all.

Also, there are Vladimir Radmanovic and Marquis Teague, the veteran and the rookie. Radmanovic has done just about nothing and hardly receives playing time. Teague does not see many minutes either and does his work by learning the NBA-style of play from the bench.

What the bench needs to do is defend and play hard. The offensive struggles can be dealt with to an extent, but what makes this Bulls team successful is the way they emphasize defense. It is what has made the Bulls flourish. The bench must take on this mentality.

The supposed Bench Mob 2.0 is just about entirely different from the original Bench Mob. They are not the same players, and this needs to be realized. Despite this, the new bench still needs to live up to the old one, and how they are doing so far is not working well.

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