Rollin' In The Rye

The Chicago Bulls need to try out Dwyane Wade at point guard

Credit: ESPN

The Chicago Bulls continue to slip down the Eastern Conference standings, while their roster still faces the same problems that became widely apparent during the offseason.

Their trio of Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler hasn’t been working, with them not having enough space and movement on the floor in order for them to all be effective. Last night, coach Fred Hoiberg decided to bench Rondo for the entirety of their 2nd half against the Indiana Pacers, a game they would ultimately lose to drop their record to 16-17.

When the Bulls signed Rondo in the offseason, they couldn’t have possibly have known that Wade was also going to make a return to his hometown of Chicago. Both are skilled players and former Champions, but their playing styles can’t function alongside one another, especially considering that Taj Gibson and Robin Lopez round out the rest of their starting lineup.

If the Bulls want to salvage their offseason moves, they’ll need to continue bringing Rondo off the bench, while giving Wade the opportunity to become their point guard.

In the past, Rondo has proven himself as a worthy floor general. Last season, he led the NBA in assists with 11.7 a game, but he hasn’t been nearly as effective this season without a supporting cast that can stretch the floor. Including his performance last night, where he scored 0 points to go along with a single assist in 10 minutes of action, Rondo hasn’t looked comfortable in an offence that needs to create space for their pair of midrange virtuosos in Wade and Butler.

Rondo is only averaging 7.2 assists a game this year, the second lowest clip of his career only behind his rookie campaign. To make things worse, he also holds his lowest field goal percentage of his career, converting on 36.9 FG% of his attempts.

Coach Hoiberg loves to spread the floor to find shots around the wing, but he hasn’t been able to do that with Rondo unable to find a decent shooting stroke. He is converting on a slightly higher percentage of his 3-point attempts compared to Wade, but defenders don’t respect his shot nearly as much.

By moving Wade to the point guard position, the Bulls would be able to finally slide in a reputable 3-point shooter in their starting lineup. While Wade moves to point, and Butler moves back to his original position at shooting guard, the Bulls will have an open spot at the small forward position. Nikola Mirotic is having a horrible year shooting the basketball, after converting on 39 3P% last season, but the Bulls still have the option to turn to Doug McDermott; who is shooting 35.1 3P%.

In reality, the Bulls don’t have an elite sniper to fill into their lineup, but they need to put trust in their shooters and hope that one of them can at least find their groove. At the moment, the Bulls average the lowest amount of 3-point attempts a game with 19.6, while also shooting the lowest percentage at 30.4 3P%.

Wade, just like Rondo, thrives with the ball in his hands, and at 6-foot-4 has always looked and played like a combo guard. When he first came out of Marquette, there were discussions whether Wade was a point guard or a shooting guard. His ability to remain patient, slash up the paint, and find other shooters and cutters has made him one of the best floor generals in the NBA. It’s what also led to countless alley-oop jams to Shaquille O’Neal and LeBron James throughout his time in Miami, and what has allowed him to fit in alongside Butler.

At the moment, the Bulls need a player like Wade to run their show, while also getting the ball in the hands of their most important players. His chemistry with Butler is evident, and also his desire to allow his younger teammate to take over the show.

While he continues to find ways to put the ball in the hoop, averaging 19.2 points a game as a Bull, their current offence has forced him into averaging a career-low with 3.6 assists. Wade has proven since entering the league in 2003, that he’s more than capable of being a dual threat at the guard position; having registered 12 seasons in which he averaged at least 18 points and 4.5 assists, the most in that time frame only behind his former teammate in James with 14.

By Wade moving to the point guard position, he’ll still be able to provide the Bulls with a veteran presence and someone who can at least knock down their own shot. He’s a better fit than Michael Carter-Williams, who offers the same skill set as Rondo, while he’s a much more capable distributer than Isaiah Canaan and Jerian Grant.

Defensively, there shouldn’t be any bigger concerns that the ones that they’ve been faced with up until this point of the season. Wade would be able to continue matching up against guards, while Butler would take on the responsibility of guarding the other team’s best player. Wade is still agile and smart enough to keep his own on defence, but even if it becomes a problem, it’ll need to take a backseat to fixing their current situation.

The Bulls will have a chance to bounce back and get their record to .500 when they take on the Milwaukee Bucks on New Year’s Eve, but they should use it as a platform to try out some necessary adjustments. With them barely hanging onto the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference, they need to put the ball in the hands of their most proven player in order to save their season.


All stats for this article are from NBA.com and Basketball-Reference.com

You can follow Bryan Meler on Twitter @BryanMelo97

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