Five Takeaways From the Chicago Bulls First Two Games

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Oct 27, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg talks with guard Jimmy Butler (21) and guard Derrick Rose (1) during the second half against the Cleveland Cavaliers at the United Center. Chicago won 97-95. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The minute distribution is different, in a good way

A big thing to watch for coming into the season was how much playing time everyone was going to get. The Bulls are as deep as anyone and have bench players that would start on most NBA teams. They also drafted another front court player in Bobby Portis.

Jimmy Butler led the league in minutes per game in each of the last two seasons, but after watching the first two games, it seems like that streak will most likely come to an end. Butler averaged 38.7 minutes per game in each of the past two seasons. He saw 37 minutes in the opener against a division rival and then, Butler played in just 34 minutes the next night in Brooklyn.

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It was a little weird to see Butler come out of the game midway through the first quarter in the season opener. However, it was also refreshing to know he wouldn’t be worked into the ground right away. There will still be nights when he gets over 40 minutes of playing time, but the less minutes early on, the fresher his legs will be for the more important games later in the year.

Aside from Butler seeing less minutes, all the starters as a whole, played less. If you look at the Bulls primary starters from a year ago (Rose, Butler, Dunleavy, Gasol and Noah) and add up all their minutes per game averages, it comes out to 169.7 minutes per game. During the season opener, against one of the best teams in the NBA, Chicago’s starters (Rose, Butler, Snell, Mirotic and Gasol) combined for only 155 minutes. That number went down in their second game as they only accounted for 145 minutes. Starters are already getting more rest than usual, despite playing a top-tier team.

In both games, only three players played 30 or more minutes. Also, out of the 21 appearances by players this year for the Bulls, 19 saw more than 15 minutes of playing time. E’Twaun Moore played 14 minutes against Cleveland and Kirk Hinrich, who played 5 minutes against Brooklyn, were the only exceptions. Chicago is one of the deepest teams in the league and are finally using it to their advantage.

Starters are staying fresher towards the end of games and using so many players helps legs stay fresh so they can continue running a high-paced offense. It will also limit lingering issues and hopefully allows them to heal faster. Right now, the Bulls have a great balance of starters and bench players and it has shown during the first couple of games.

Next: E'Twaun Moore and Doug McDermott want to play this year