Breaking News Bar
updated: 3/3/2011 6:44 PM

Can Bulls go all the way with Bogans and Brewer at shooting guard?

hello
Success - Article sent! close
 
 

The victory total suggests the Bulls are candidates to win the NBA title, but what does history say?

Some pieces to the championship puzzle are in place: A serious superstar, inside scoring and plenty of size across the front line.

Order Reprint Print Article
 
Interested in reusing this article?
Custom reprints are a powerful and strategic way to share your article with customers, employees and prospects.
The YGS Group provides digital and printed reprint services for Daily Herald. Complete the form to the right and a reprint consultant will contact you to discuss how you can reuse this article.
Need more information about reprints? Visit our Reprints Section for more details.

Contact information ( * required )

Success - request sent close

The pesky question surrounding the Bulls, though, is whether they can advance to the NBA Finals with a starter at shooting guard, Keith Bogans, who averages just 3.9 points per game. To be accurate, Ronnie Brewer plays more minutes at two guard than Bogans. Brewer may be the team's best individual defender, but he's only at 6.5 points this season.

The value of points from this position is evident in a couple of statistical facts: The Bulls are 16-2 when Bogans scores at least 6 points and 21-5 when Brewer produces 8 points or more.

Wednesday's 83-80 loss in Atlanta was the Bulls' second defeat this season when Bogans hit his benchmark.

It's tempting to throw Kyle Korver into the Bulls' shooting guard mix, but he usually checks in for small forward Luol Deng during the first half. Late in games, coach Tom Thibodeau mixes his lineup based on the situation. If the Bulls need two big men on the floor, Korver may play shooting guard. If they can get away with a small lineup, Korver, Brewer and Deng might play together.

By the way, Korver is averaging 8.2 points per game, so he doesn't put the shooting guards into a high-scoring category anyway. Newcomer Rasual Butler is another role player whose job will be to fire 3-pointers.

Obviously, these Bulls do not fit the mold of a typical NBA title contender. A pair of point-intensive shooting guards have won 11 of the last 20 championships. Michael Jordan's lowest scoring average during the Bulls' six championship seasons was 28.7. Kobe Bryant started out below Shaquille O'Neal on the Lakers' scoring food chain, but he averaged 27.0 points for the last two title-winning squads.

Are there examples of a team reaching the Finals with a primary shooting guard who averaged less than 10 points?

Absolutely.

Just a few years ago, Sasha Pavlovic scored 9.0 points per game for the 2007 Cavaliers. In the Cavs' regular starting lineup, Larry Hughes was the point guard and LeBron James the small forward.

Flip back a few dozen pages in the NBA Guide and there's another one -- San Antonio's Mario Elie at 9.7 points in 1999. That Spurs team also ran Jaren Jackson and Steve Kerr through the shooting guard rotation.

A third example is the '81 Celtics, which used Chris Ford (8.9 points) and Gerald Henderson (7.8) next to Nate Archibald in the backcourt.

So in the past 40 years, out of 80 teams that reached the Finals, only three didn't have a shooting guard scoring in double figures.

The historic odds of Bogans starting in the 2011 Finals are not good. But there aren't many examples of a point guard being the top scorer on a Finals team, either. Isiah Thomas and the 1988-90 Pistons were mold-breakers.

That said, there were plenty of relatively weak shooting guards who reached the Finals. Kerry Kittles (13.0, 13.4 ppg) got there twice in a row with New Jersey. The 1994 Rockets won a title with Vernon Maxwell (13.6) before deciding not to push their luck and trading for Clyde Drexler.

A few years removed from playing third base for the Toronto Blue Jays, Danny Ainge averaged just 10.7 points for the great Celtics championship team of 1986. Mike Dunleavy ('81 Rockets) and Dick Van Arsdale ('76 Suns) started in the Finals.

A common thread among the teams listed above is a wealth of front-line scoring. The Bulls' biggest scorer is Derrick Rose, but Deng, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah combine to average nearly 50 points per game.

Whether the Bulls can pull off a long playoff march is anyone's guess. This much is clear, though: Reaching the Finals with a dominant point guard and a nonscoring shooting guard is unprecedented in modern NBA history.

The next two games at Orlando and Miami will be a great test to see if the Bulls are built for playoff success.

Share this page