The Early Returns on the Bulls’ New Bench Mob Are Extremely Encouraging

The Chicago Bulls’ second unit may not be as starting lineup-worthy as Andre Drummond thinks, but it also might not be far off.

Despite adding only two new rotation pieces into the mix this offseason, the Bulls bench has been rejuvenated. Both Goran Dragic and Drummond have played like the veteran assets this team desperately needed, and it’s completely transformed what the team has been able to do with its second unit.

Last season, the Bulls’ bench averaged the 3rd-fewest minutes and 2nd-fewest points per game. They also held an overall Net Rating that sat just 19th in the league, per NBA Stats. Add the Bulls’ new free-agent signings into the mix, however, and the Bulls’ bench has ranked …

– 4th in minutes per game
– 6th in Net Rating
– 6th in assists per game
– 6th in blocks per game
– 8th in FTAs per game
– 9th in rebounds per game
– 15th in points per game

Uh, how about that for a turnaround!?

No game better illustrated what the Bulls’ new second group is capable of than Wednesday night’s showing against the Indiana Pacers. The bench dropped 43 points and saw six different players clock at least 10 minutes of action. Dragic paced the group with 13 points and 5 assists on a 5-9 shooting effort from the field. Meanwhile, backup big man Andre Drummond snatched 13 rebounds (which included 4 OREBs) in only 17 minutes of play to go along with 8 points.

The stable play of both experienced talents paired with Alex Caruso’s defensive intensity, Coby White’s heat-check potential, and Javonte Green’s energetic two-way play has formed quite the imposing bench mob for Billy Donovan to deploy. Not to mention, it has given Zach LaVine another lineup that can help draw out his strengths.

Indeed, last season Donovan opted to stagger DeRozan in with the second unit. While this allowed for the All-Star to (as the kids say) “get his” with endless isolation opportunities, he also proved to be about the only offensive option on the floor. With the Bulls now adding LaVine into that group with Caruso, Dragic, and Drummond, it has given the bench a far more potent identity. The combination of players has provided the team with an uptempo attack that feasts in transition and gives LaVine a chance to flash more of his playmaking skills. For opposing bench lineups, it has already created all kinds of trouble.

The four-man combo of Dragic, LaVine, Caruso, and Drummond has so far put together an absurd 57.9 Net Rating. Now, to be completely transparent, this is based on just 27 minutes of action in two games. In fact, while we’re at it, let me emphasize that ALL these positive stats are currently based on such a small sample size. We’re going to have to revisit this conversation in a couple of weeks after this “bench mob” has more playing time under its belt.

Having said that, there is no denying that these are extremely encouraging early returns. And we can at least put a little bit more weight in the 15.7 Net Rating that the two-man combination of Dragic and Drummond have accumulated in 70 minutes over the first five games. They legitimately look like a lethal off-the-bench duo, which I guess leads me to this …

I’m sorry! Even if it might be too early to make any grand conclusion, I think I’ve seen enough to apologize for my initial lukewarm reaction to both free-agent signings. The Bulls believed that Dragic had enough basketball left in the tank to fill a big hole on this roster, and he’s proving them right so far. As for Drummond, while I appreciated the boost he’d give in the rebounding department, I failed to see where he fit into how this team preferred to play on either end. However, the energy he’s brought as a rim-runner, screen-setter, and even rim-protector has far exceeded my expectations. He helps this second unit push the pace by securing boards, and he brings a level of toughness that the roster previously lacked. Sure, he might try to do too much at times, but that’s ok to have from someone who sees just 15-17 minutes a night!

So, yeah, this is so far one of those situations where I couldn’t be happier to be wrong. Again, we’ll check back in on the second unit’s status in the coming weeks, but the Bulls’ depth is a key reason they’ve looked as competitive as they have early on. Let’s hope they keep it up.

written by

Elias Schuster is the Lead Chicago Bulls writer at Bleacher Nation. He started with BN full-time in 2019 immediately after graduating from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign with a degree in Journalism (yes, he started with the Jim Boylen Era). Since joining, Elias has been the driving force behind Bulls and NBA content for both the site and social accounts. You can follow him on Twitter/X @Schuster_Elias.

more bulls news

Bulls Reportedly Extend Qualifying Offer to Patrick Williams

With the NBA Draft set for Wednesday night and free agency beginning later this weekend, the Chicago Bulls did some housekeeping. According to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, the team has extended a qualifying offer to Patrick Williams. The move...

Are the Chicago Bulls Considering a Sign-and-Trade with Patrick Williams?

Earlier this offseason we learned that the Oklahoma City Thunder had an eye on Patrick Williams. The news comes as Williams quickly approaches restricted free agency. The Chicago Bulls will have the right to match any contract offers that come...

Kings Were Close to Landing Alex Caruso – Here’s What the Bulls Reportedly Turned Down

With Alex Caruso now in Oklahoma City, we're learning more about which teams struck out in their pursuit of the two-time All-Defensive Team member. The Athletic's Anthony Slater and Sam Amick shared that the Kings were serious contenders for Caruso...

New Report Says Bulls Want to Re-Sign Andre Drummond, Which Tells Us What?

When the Chicago Bulls traded Alex Caruso for Josh Giddey last week, a shipment of dynamite was dropped off at the Advocate Center. The shocking move seemed to symbolize a roster blow up. Caruso was easily the team's best asset,...

Report: Scottie Barnes To Sign Biggest Deal In Raptors History

The Toronto Raptors are officially locking in their franchise player. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that Scottie Barnes and the Raptors are in agreement on a max rookie extension worth up to $270 million over five years. The move doesn't...

A Busy Week Begins, Bulls Are “Very Active,” Assistant Coach Interviews, And Other Bulls Bullets

The next week should be the most [fill in the blank] of the offseason. Typically, I'd throw the word "exciting" into that spot, but I'm not sure the Chicago Bulls will meet that adjective. While the Josh Giddey trade suggests...

2024 NBA Mock Draft: New Name At Number One As Draft Week Arrives

It's officially NBA Draft week! The Draft is just two days away from tipping off with the 1st Round set for Wednesday, June 26th. Unlike some years, this 1st Round seems like it could unfold in quite a few different...

Cavaliers Reportedly Hiring Respected Assistant Kenny Atkinson as Next KC

The Cleveland Cavaliers have their next head coach. According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, highly-respected assistant Kenny Atkinson will take over J.B. Bickerstaff's old gig. He and New Orleans Pelicans assistant James Borrego were Cleveland's two finalists. Atkinson had served as...

“I’m a Dawg:” Watch Angel Reese Cap Off Huge Win With Electric Interview

The rivalry between Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese has officially transferred to the WNBA. After starting 2-0 against the Chicago Sky, Clark finally lost to her fellow rookie sensation on Sunday afternoon in Chicago. Angel Reese scored a career-high 25...

Angel Reese Scores New Career High to Finally Lift Sky Past Fever

Revenge tastes best on your home court. The Chicago Sky finally took down the Indiana Fever after back-to-back losses earlier this season in Indianapolis. Even more exciting, they did it in front of a packed Wintrust Arena crowd behind a...

Latest News

Tuesday’s MLB Computer Picks & Best Bets – June 25

Tuesday's MLB schedule features 15 contests, including the matchup between the Cleveland Guardians and the Baltimore Orioles. We have best bets for every game below.MLB picks todayCleveland Guardians at Baltimore Orioles Odds, Lines & PredictionsGame infoWhen: 6:35 PM ETWhere: Oriole...

How to Watch Reds vs. Pirates: Live Stream or on TV

In a series opener on Tuesday, Elly De La Cruz and the Cincinnati Reds (36-41) take on Bryan Reynolds and the Pittsburgh Pirates (37-40), with first pitch scheduled for 7:10 PM ET at Great American Ball Park.Find out how to...

Red Sox vs. Blue Jays: Free Live Stream, TV Channel, How to Watch

On Tuesday, Jarren Duran and the Boston Red Sox (42-36) take on Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and the Toronto Blue Jays (35-42), with first pitch scheduled for 7:10 PM ET at Fenway Park.Keep scrolling to find out all the details on...

Braves vs. Cardinals: Start Time, Streaming Live, TV Channel, How to Watch

On Tuesday, Marcell Ozuna and the Atlanta Braves (43-32) face Brendan Donovan and the St. Louis Cardinals (39-37), with first pitch scheduled for 7:45 PM ET at Busch Stadium.The article below will provide you with everything you need to watch...

Bulls Reportedly Extend Qualifying Offer to Patrick Williams

With the NBA Draft set for Wednesday night and free agency beginning later this weekend, the Chicago Bulls did some housekeeping. According to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, the team has extended a qualifying offer to Patrick Williams. The move...

How to Watch 2024 UEFA European Championship Today TV Channel and Live Stream | Tuesday, June 25

Want to watch the 2024 UEFA European Championship matches on Tuesday? You've come to the right place. Below, we've listed the start times and TV channels for every match.Here you can find information on live coverage of all of today's...

Where to Watch France vs. Poland: UEFA European Championship 2024 TV Channel, Start Time and Live Stream

France (4 points) and Poland (0 points) meet on Tuesday, June 25 at 12:00 PM ET in the third game of Group D action at the 2024 UEFA European Championship.You should head to FOX in order to see this match.Watch...

Where to Watch Netherlands vs. Austria: UEFA European Championship 2024 TV Channel, Start Time and Live Stream

On Tuesday, June 25 at 12:00 PM ET, the Netherlands (4 points) and Austria (3 points) square off for each side's final match in Group D at the 2024 UEFA European Championship.The game between the Netherlands and Austria will be...

Mariners vs. Rays: Start Time, Streaming Live, TV Channel, How to Watch

On Tuesday, Julio Rodriguez and the Seattle Mariners (45-35) face Isaac Paredes and the Tampa Bay Rays (38-40), with first pitch scheduled for 6:50 PM ET at Tropicana Field.See how to watch the Seattle-Tampa Bay matchup below.When is Mariners vs....

Orioles vs. Guardians: Start Time, Streaming Live, TV Channel, How to Watch

On Tuesday, Gunnar Henderson and the Baltimore Orioles (49-28) open a series against Jose Ramirez and the Cleveland Guardians (49-26) at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, with first pitch scheduled for 6:35 PM ET.The article below will provide you with...

more bulls news