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Credit due to GM Gar Forman for bettering Bulls’ bench

Gar Forman Chicago Bulls general manager fields questions as team introduces their new guard Marquis Teague BerCenter Monday July 2

Gar Forman, Chicago Bulls general manager, fields questions as the team introduces their new guard, Marquis Teague at the Berto Center on Monday, July 2, 2012 in Deerfield. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times

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Which Bulls' bench is better?




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Updated: February 3, 2013 6:34PM



Gar Forman’s days of flying under the radar are ending.

The Bulls’ drafting of Jimmy Butler with the 30th pick in 2011, this summer’s dismantling of the ‘‘Bench Mob’’ for a new-look unit (and doing it on the cheap), Nate Robinson . . . the secret on Forman is out. The fourth-year Bulls general manager knows what he’s doing way more than he’s been given credit for, and he’s putting together a core that has staying power.

Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Butler, Kirk Hinrich — heck, even Richard Hamilton if they feel the need to pick up his $5  million option — are all under contract through at least next season, which means Forman again can use free agency to reinforce the bench this offseason.

That was a task he didn’t seem as capable of handling when the group was first being assembled last summer. ‘‘Marco who?’’ ‘‘Nate Robinson — the little guy?’’ Those types of questions have gone away. There were concerns in training camp and the early part of the season that this group would be unable to replace the famous “Bench Mob.’’ Those concerns have been buried. Call it ‘‘Mob Justice.’’

Here’s a comparison between last season’s bench players and this season’s.

Point guards

C.J. Watson and John Lucas III vs. Robinson and Hinrich.

This isn’t even close, on offense and defense. Robinson blows Watson out of the water in player efficiency rating (18.5 to 13.3), but more important, he brings life and energy to a team as soon as he steps on the court. Does he always take the best shot or get his teammates involved? No, but Robinson plays with a certain playground flair, while Watson played with a certain self-entitlement. Plus, Robinson can create his own shot much better.

Hinrich will move to a back-up spot when Rose returns. He gives the Bulls a defensive presence off the bench in either guard spot. Lucas had his moments, but let’s be honest — he’s a 12th man.

Winner: ‘‘Mob Justice.’’

Shooting guard

Kyle Korver vs. Marco Belinelli. At the start of the season, this looked like a no-brainer in favor of Korver. Belinelli was overwhelmed by the defensive philosophy of Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau and seemed to be carrying those defensive woes to the offensive side of his game.

Don’t look now — Belinelli’s defense and play-making have surpassed Korver’s. Still, Korver can stretch a defense like no other.

This one is close.

Winner: ‘‘Bench Mob.’’

Small forward

Ronnie Brewer vs. Butler. Butler as a rookie last season was almost a non-factor.

Now that he has moved into the bench rotation — and a starting role when needed — this is another no-brainer.

Butler can create his own shot, he defends just as well as Brewer did, and he hasn’t even reached his ceiling.

Winner: ‘‘Mob Justice.’’

Power forward

Taj Gibson: ‘‘Bench Mob’’ version vs. Taj Gibson: ‘‘Mob Justice’’ version. Gibson added consistency to his mid-range jumper and has improved his offensive skills with his back to the basket in the low post, all while maintaining his rebounding and shot-blocking ability. His player efficiency is down from last year, but his versatility is improved.

Winner: ‘‘Mob Justice.’’

Center

Omer Asik vs. Nazr Mohammed. His teammates love the Naz, but Asik was a beast — a beast the Bulls couldn’t afford.

Winner: ‘‘Bench Mob.’’



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