UPDATE 8:45 pm: Just kidding. Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg decided to play fake the media on Monday, he turned in the official starting lineup before the game with Joakim Noah listed as the starter next to Pau Gasol. Then, when the game tipped off Nikola Mirotic was starting next to Gasol, just like always.
I’d say nothing to see here, but the points about the Bulls big man lineups below remains valid — they should start Noah and Mirotic and bring Gasol off the bench.
7:31 pm: The Bulls have made it official — and they could still do better.
As had been rumored earlier, Joakim Noah got the start for the Bulls Monday night in place of Nikola Mirotic. From Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com.
I get the idea; Noah is the better defender and the Bulls have lost three of five. That said, I’m glad it’s not settled because I think Hoiberg is not using his best combinations.
While Mirotic had a couple rough games last week, the fact of the matter is the Bulls offense is 7.8 points per 100 possessions better when he is on the court this season, and even the defense if five points per 100 improved when he plays. Even when he’s not hitting shots he has real value for them on the court because defenders have to respect him and it creates spacing.
Hoiberg needs to send Pau Gasol to the bench instead of Mirotic. When Gasol and Noah are paired together this season, the Bulls are +0.4 points per 100 possessions, when it’s Gasol and Mirotic it’s -4.1, but when it’s Noah and Mirotic the Bulls are +18.8. This comes with a major grain of salt because of the small sample sizes, but if something seems to be working then stick with it.
We’ll see now the new/old Gasol and Noah front court fares against the Sixers. Which is not exactly the best test.