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Bulls' offseason additions looking to re-establish Bench Mob identity

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Updated: November 4, 2012 6:23AM



Taj Gibson is the Bulls’ Bench Mob. Or rather, he’s what’s left of it.

Gibson is the only remaining stalwart of the touted group that has been an integral part of the team’s success.

“[The bench’s nickname] will never be retired,” Gibson said after the Bulls’ first training-camp practice Tuesday at the Berto Center. “We’re just trying to make a new Bench Mob. … We’re just hoping to get guys more situated in the scheme of things. So far, so good.”

Only seven players return from last season’s playoff roster.

Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, Omer Asik, C.J. Watson, John Lucas III and Brian Scalabrine are gone as the bench was disbanded this offseason.

Kirk Hinrich, Nazr Mohammed, Marco Belinelli, Vladimir Radmanovic, Nate Robinson and rookie Marquis Teague are the replacements, and Jimmy Butler, a rookie last season, should have an expanded role.

“I feel like we’ve gained,” Butler said. “Yeah, we lost a lot, too. But I feel like we’ve made up for it. I like these guys. I’ve been working out with them a lot over the summer. I’m really excited to see this new Bench Mob, as people call it.

“The Bench Mob 2.0, I’m excited to see what it does for us.”

Statistically speaking, the Bulls’ new depth might be an improvement.

It can be argued that the new players average more points and have more experience.

But the key to much of the bench’s success the last two seasons was how well the players fed off each other, handled assigned roles and aggressively defended. It wasn’t their individual numbers; it was their chemistry.

There are no guarantees the new players will jell.

“Two years ago, no one really knew about our bench,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “It was a lot more than their individual talent; it was their willingness to play to [teammates’] strengths [and] their work ethic.

“Those are things that help you build chemistry. On every team, roles are different, but work is equal. When you get a team that’s committed to each other and playing to win, special things can happen. So that’s what we’re looking for.”

Belinelli, Teague and other newcomers have talked about the importance of work ethic, and Butler pointed out that “Thibs doesn’t give anything to anybody.”

In other words, the Bulls’ recent success, style of play and Thibodeau’s reputation already have left an impression.

“They know I’m a shooter,’’ Belinelli said, ‘‘but I just don’t want to be a three-point shooter. I want to be more than that. I’ll try to be a better passer and help my teammates make good decisions on offense. I want to be a better defender. I want to be complete.”

Strong bench play also will be crucial with Derrick Rose recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Thibodeau said the Bulls won’t change their system with Rose out, saying we’ll “try to play a five-man offense just as we do our defense.”

“It’s everybody sharing the ball,” he said. “We want to have ball movement, player movement, hit the open man, play inside-out, try to keep our turnovers down and get as many easy baskets as we can.”

Of course, the new-look Bench Mob will be a part of that. Thibodeau said the goal is a “continuation of what they’ve already done.”

“I love our group,” Hinrich said. “It’s definitely an adjustment we have with every new guy, but I don’t imagine it taking too long.”



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