Fred Hoiberg shook up the Bulls when he started Nikola Mirotic over Joakim Noah (and a little more when he insinuated Noah suggested the change, which Noah denied).
But with Chicago losing three of five – beating the Magic and Thunder, falling to the Pistons, Hornets and Timberwolves – Hoiberg might reverse course.
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:
Fred Hoiberg said following the morning shootaround that no lineup changes were planned for Monday’s game against the winless 76ers.
But Joakim Noah worked with the starters at the shootaround, Nikola Mirotic acted coy when asked if he’s still starting and a source said Hoiberg is strongly considering inserting Noah for Mirotic.
Mirotic has gone cold shooting from outside. Gasol has played woeful defense all season. Noah is a non-entity as a scorer.
In a frontcourt that was supposed to present an abundance of good options, finding one suitable starting lineup might be a challenge.
For what it’s worth, here’s how Noah and Mirotic have performed with Chicago’s other starters: Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler Doug McDermott and Pau Gasol (offensive/defensive/net rating):
- Mirotic: 83.2/109.5/-26.4 in 25 minutes
- Noah: 85.9/98.9/-13.0 in 15 minutes
Those are tiny samples, and I wouldn’t read much into that.
Noah should upgrade the Bulls’ defense over Mirotic, who needs more help on that end than Gasol provides. But their offensive spacing will take a major hit, even considering Noah’s passing ability.
If the Bulls want to set a better defensive tone, starting Noah makes sense. But maybe he should replace Gasol, who has been the bigger sieve. That way, Mirotic could still be used to spread the floor.
No matter what Hoiberg decides now, Chicago’s big-man rotation is clearly still a work in progress.