Tuesday, December 19, 2006

People of the Year? Us! F--k You!

First off, props to the mothership for being recognized externally for, let's face it, what was already an undeniable, objective fact. I'd say all the contributors here played their parts, but let's give a special nod to Noce, for being that extra-nasty content provider. He'd be missed greatly, except we got Big Sweet waiting in the wings, salivating at the chance to knock down the clutch J. One question remains however: Will the team fold without Coach Skiles expertly aiding Pax at the helm? I sure hope not, but I rue the loss of his sage wisdom (as well as the leave-taking of the only other regular office persona who gives a fig about ball.)

And since I'm already in the fits of a self-congratulatory orgy, let me toss one more writhing, naked body onto the pile: Despite its irregular posting, TYI has nevertheless managed to be the most prescient prognosticatin' Bulls blog on all of the internets. We predicted big things this year from Deng and El Chapu (check); argued--contra-Simmons--that the O would not be a problem for the Bulls this year (check); calmly explained why--contra Yglesias--AI is no answer for the Bulls (check); correctly chided Bears fans to chill out over their bloodthirst for the head of Brother Rex (check); and even predicted why the Bulls could be on a 12-game winning streak going into tonight's Lakers game (check minus one: They've won 11 out of the 12). Hell, we even have an exception that proves this rule: Noce's pronouncement that Hinrich would be an All-Star this year (in a conference with the likes of D-Wade, Iverson, Agent Weirdo, Kidd (who's like a rebound shy of averaging a triple double this year), Michael Redd, Vince in a contract year, Rip, Joe Johnson and Chauncey.)


Speaking of Kirk, let me get off the back-patting tip and try some provocatatin'. Like Skiles and Big Sweet (See posts below), I don't want the Bulls to make a move this year. Not for AI. Not for Garnett. Not for anyone. I want to see this team play and mature together over the rest of the year and see how it plays out. If it's another first round exit, then fine, make a move, but I'm seeing a Conference Finals in our future this year, and I wouldn't be shocked if they made it to the Finals. That's how good I think this core can be, and there's a chance for them to be that good for a while.

BUT...in all of the trade talk, there are always three main names from our core guys bandied about: Deng (less so now, but I think he's still viewed as expendable for the right superstar, which is still insane, b/c in 2 more years, he will be the right superstar), Nocioni and Gordon. In any event, I was tooling around 82games.com the other day, and the thought arose: Why isn't Hinrich ever considered as expendable as these other guys?

Check out the stats. The top five Roland Order ranks, in descending order, are Deng, Gordon, Nocioni, Duhon and Hinrich. (Until recently, Hinrich's was negative; as of this posting, he's +0.9.) I know that these stats are not the be-all and end-all, but they're certainly intriguing and they make me wonder why, say, Gordon is so often considered to be much more easily replaced than Kirk. Indeed, it very much seems to me to be the opposite: I feel like you could find a 1/2 guard who, while he doesn't quite excel like Kirk on both ends of the floor, gives you a close enough approximation, with only a minor drop-off; but finding a pure scorer like Gordon, it seems to me, is pretty hard. There are not a lot of players like him.

The stats bear this out. The Bulls score more than 4 more points per 48 minutes when Gordon is on the court than when's he off. (And strangely enough, their defense actually improves by nearly one more point when Gordon is on the court, although as Gordon is often on the floor in crunchtime and the game is on the line, I would imagine the more concerted effort of the other defenders might help explain this.)

Now check Hinrich. Hinrich's effect on the offensive end is negligible, with the Bulls scoring less than 1 more point when he's on the court than when's he's off. And strangely enough, the Bulls do better defensively when's he's off the court than when's on, allowing 2 less points. Even this, however, is probably negligible, and can be explained away by various anomalous factors. My point is, Hinrich doesn't seem to cause a major statistical swing one way or the other, unlike the 4+ point swing you get on the offensive end when Gordon's on the court. And seeing as the Bulls' vulnerability appears to lie on the offensive side of the ball, wouldn't it make sense to secure one of the players who decisively helps you in that area.

Now, again, this isn't a plea to trade Hinrich. He's a great player, and I want the Bulls to stand pat. But if the Bulls are forced to make a trade---either to move up to an elite tier, or just because of cap space---I wonder whether Hinrich should be considered untouchable.

Any thoughts?


Blogger jamesmnordbergjr said...

Interesting thoughts on Kirk. His contributions have been less noticeable this season, whereas his whining has been displayed in bright lights.

But the advancement of the offense has more to do with the growth of Deng and Gordon than the regression of Kirk. He's not been needed as much on the o-side, and he's been able to concentrate on defense.

(This is my first foray to TYI -- caught the link from Blog-a-Bull -- and I like what I've read. Keep up the good work.)

12:20 AM  
Anonymous Paxson Jackson said...

The Hinrich math isn't very conclusive, and he is actually having his best statistical season jumping more than a point in PER. Untouchable in your trade scenarios or not he is signed long term, so the organization would appear to want him in Chicago, despite having other options on the roster.

12:29 AM  
Blogger radar said...

I also came here via blog-a-bull. They say there are lies, damned lies and statistics. The ratings of Hinrich fail to catch his importance on the defensive end and his ability to be what the Bulls need from night to night. He will focus more on his offense when it is needed but is content to be an implementer when others are going well. I sometimes think he doesn't look for his shot enough.

I also thought, before the season began, that the best Bulls lineup would have both Noce and Luol playing together. The very young Deng is growing by leaps and bounds. Noce is a star-quality player with an inherent toughness and has a will to win that is diamond-hard.

Until recently I was not high on Gordon. However, now that he is more willing to go to the basket and also more consistent shooting foul shots, I am becoming a fan.

Bottom line, I do hope the Bulls stand basically pat. The hope is that the Knicks play down to the level of their coach and win a lottery draft pick for us for next year. Thabo and Tyrus are going to look pretty good in a year or two. The talent is there to develop this team into an Eastern powerhouse for the next several years if nobody does something stupid...like trade Noce or Deng, for instance!

1:54 AM  
Anonymous Paxson Jackson said...

"...with an inherent toughness and has a will to win that is diamond-hard."

Slow down Radar, I'm writing this down. I had no idea Nocioni was the David Eckstein of the NBA. I honestly thought it was Earl Boykins.

10:19 AM  
Blogger Sean G. said...

What's up, I came here via blog-a-bull as well...I like your POV. Can you add an RSS feed to your blog so I can post it in my Bulls reader? http://www.yourminis.com/chibulls

11:45 AM  
Blogger Big Sweet said...

Ben Go,

Every once in a while you have to engage in some good ole' self-indulgent fun. You work hard enough for it.

Like you made absolutley clear, you have to stay put at this point (even if Mchale somehow decides to let go of KG). Given the depth in the East, the Bulls could conceivably win the conference even if they struggle out west again. And I would agree with James that "[Kirk's] contributions' have been less noticeable this season, whereas his whining has been displayed in bright lights." He is only 12th in the East in assists (behind the likes of Tinsley and Mo Williams) and was notably absent for the last 18 against Mamba (obviously, that was for foul trouble and matchup reasons, but interesting nonetheless).

All of that said, I'm not sure I agree with this estimation.

"I feel like you could find a 1/2 guard who, while he doesn't quite excel like Kirk on both ends of the floor, gives you a close enough approximation, with only a minor drop-off."

Even with cap space, I think it would be difficult to find a lot of guys that do the things Kirk does every night. I wouldn't be comfortable with just Du at the point, either. Any ideas of guys that could fill this hole if Kirk would fly the coop?

12:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I, like those before me, am party to the conga line streaming to from Blogabull. To begin with, nice site and I'll be back.
As for Hinrich, I'd argue we'd get the greatest return on the dollar for Kirk as it seems his league wide value is the highest of all Bulls (with Deng's soon to be the highest).
As for why he's not expendable the answer is simple: Skiles and "Slowhand", er, Paxson. Kirk's attitude, approach to the team and competitiveness seem to mesh very well with those of Pax and Scott. He's essentially an extension of the model they've envisioned from day one. He works all the time, he tries on defense and doesn't puff his chest too much. I think their enamored to the point of overlooking some of Kirk's flaws. However, overall, I feel the same way.
Kirk clearly sacrifices for the good of the team and plays a dependable PG. Unlike, Tinsley and Co. (AKA, second tier PG's), Kirk has a competent all around game. That is to say, he can still perform without the ball in his hands. Sure, it's hard to find a stat that says THAT'S why we need Kirk but is that important. You can talk about Jamal Tinsley's stats all you want but you won't convince me his anything other than a PG for an also-ran. The same can be said of all but a few PG's in the league. I think Hinrich is one of those few. Let's face it, true PG play is a premium few teams can enjoy. Put Hinrich on the Lakers, Pacers, Rockets, Magic, etc. and they would be appreciably better.
He made the olympic team for a reason. It wasn't stats but does it really need to be?
Still, I think you're initial point is valid. I think if Deng or Gordon is viewed as expendable, Hinrich might was well. And I also vehemently agree that it's too early to go trading our young talent for a "star". Damn, I hate that word.

1:29 PM  
Blogger BenGo07 said...

Do any of the other contributors here have any idea on how to honor Sean G Period's request to add an RSS feed? I am a Luddite.

2:25 PM  
Anonymous Matt, your friendly Bulls Blogger said...

all blogspot sites have a similar feed with the url/atom.xml. So this feed is http://thankyouisiah.blogspot.com/atom.xml

3:34 PM  
Blogger BenGo07 said...

Matt: You give us props, readers who leave complimentary comments, and tech advice? You're heaven sent. God bless you.

Sweet: I would actually be okay with some combo of Du and an improving Sefo to make up for a lost Kirk. Would there be a drop off there? Of course. But who do you get to replace what my namesake provides to the team? I mean, not only is Ben a big-time, high-volume scorer, but he's accepted his role coming off the bench this year without any noticeable ego trips. That's a pretty rare combo, particularly in guys who have Ben's cold-blooded, killer instinct.

Anonymous: I'm in complete agreement with everything you said about Kirk's game and overall demeanor. I only brought this up b/c it's my understanding that the Bulls are not going to be able to keep Deng, Noce, Gordon and Kirk, and of those four, I think Kirk may be the least valuable. (That's certainly arguable, which is why I posted this. Arguing is fun.)

4:05 PM  
Anonymous Paxson Jackson said...


Check out some comprehensive stats, fellas/ladies. Plus/Minus doesn't tell the whole story, part of the story, or really a very truthful story. It's more helpful to compare production at a specific position, especially when a player spends nearly half his minutes out of position.

I'm not an expert, but it does help to look at more than one metric to do these comparisons.

5:44 PM  
Blogger BDH said...

I think one of the things that makes this conversation tough is that Gordon, Hinrich and Duhon all seem to play better at the point than the two-spot. Still, I think Pax has been right to wait on the development of these guys and I think the more they play together, the better they will become. Hinrich is adjusting to the emergence of other guys like Deng and Gordon. I think it's made him a little more passive than I'd like him to be, but I think he will pick it up. Right now, he looks like he is passing up open shots, and he is not taking the ball to the hole as much as he should, trying to draw fouls or get easy buckets.

I think Kirk has the best chance to be a Nash-type player. His assists are probably down because he's been playing a little more at 2 and a little less at 1 this year. Still, I'm always frustrated when he picks up his dribble early. It's one of the things Nash and Kidd do really well: preserve their dribble.

I think the biggest factor when considering a trade for these guys will probably be money. At some point (soon) these guys will all be up for extensions. We already know what Hinrich will make for the next few years. We don't know what it will take to keep Gordon, Noce and Deng. Plus, we're not sure where Thomas or Thabo will find time to play if they really come on. (Although I think TT could play the 5 in Skiles' system - there's not much difference between how the 4 and 5 play on offense, and he is athletic enough that with a little extra muscle he could defend opposing centers).

2:44 PM  

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