Pentele wrote:Sure, that is completely understandable. But then the point is not to win, and certainly the present discussions around how well Lauri is used are premised on the idea that the team wants to win games. Some argue that Lauri is easily replacable journeyman-caliber player who does not really contribute to winning while others are saying that, to win games, the Bulls should use Lauri more efficiently. I do not think it is more complex than that.
The Bulls need to get Lauri good looks often on offense when on the floor, because if they aren't going to do that, then he's a huge negative. He's a particularly bad fit with our starting center now. We should always look to give him scoring opportunities when on the floor, but those are often hard to generate, because most of Lauri's efficiency is due to him shooting wide open shots. It isn't easy to generate a wide open shot for Lauri, and defenses generally don't have a hard time taking that away in important moments.
In that sense, (to me) it kind of depends what you mean here. The Bulls should attempt to use Lauri's offense when on the floor, because if not, why have him out there at all? That is sometimes easier said than done though. The second thing is that trying to use Lauri efficiently doesn't mean the team will be better than using Thad or Theis efficiently in lower volume and other players in higher volume.
Lauri, fundamentally doesn't look like an impact player to me. With WCJ, Gafford, or Thad at Center, then I think think Lauri was the Bulls best PF to complement them. With Vuc, I think he's probably the worst. With Theis or Thad he's pretty solid. If I had my big man rotation of Theis, Thad, Vuc, Lauri, then I would probably virtually never play Lauri/Vuc at the same time and play Vuc as many minutes as he's capable to stay healthy and fresh (30ish) which would leave me with 18 for Lauri paired up with Theis or Thad. Maybe I'd give Lauri an extra 4-5 with Vuc here and there, but I wouldn't stick with that look too often.
I actually think that's exactly how the Bulls coaches are thinking about it.
In my opinion, they need to get more creative about using their roster. The benefit of having bigs that can shoot is that you can invert the offense where the "smalls" can operate in the paint, either driving, cutting or posting up and the bigs pull the opposing bigs out. Think Billups' Pistons with Dice and Rasheed and Okur, or current Nuggets with Jokic. Jokic obviously has the added benefit of being the hub, but the reason it works is because he can score well, both from the outside or driving, if the defender gets in his face in order to break up his passing game.
Here's the thing--if you have Vuc that needs to be guarded on the pop, or Lauri on the spot-up, and hopefully Theis at some point in the future, the "small" that gets to pin down, cut, post up can actually be Lauri because that's who the shortest defender will likely be on in a Vuc, Theis, Lauri lineup. The opposite is true if you replace Theis with Thad. With a single "big" shooter in Vuc, and two very reluctant shooters in Pat and Sato, Thad looked the worst he's looked all season because the lane was more packed than at any other time this year. You replace Pat with Lauri and Sato with Coby, and all of a sudden that lane opens up again because you'll have a bunch of guys you actually have to pay attention to outside. So you can get something out of Thad as well.
Lauri makes this whole thing work because he's a good enough shooter to play SF on O, and big enough to play "a big small" if he has other shooters on the floor with him. On D, Pat sucks anyway so not sure how much you're giving up there.
What I would stay away from are the following:
* Vuc and Lauri, as the two bigs, with no Theis on the floor with them, at least until Zach comes back
* Vuc and Thad, with no gunners next to them--Thad never looked as washed up as when starting next to Vuc, and is useless unless he gets his 55-60 touches in the 20 min he can stay fresh on the floor
* Thad and Theis--neither can currently shoot so nothing works, unless there's another "big" shooter on the floor with them
So, what should it look like?
Lauri-Theis-Vuc (the gargantuan lineup) for 15 min / game with Lauri as the SF
Lauri-Thad--> off the bench; it worked to start the year for both of them -- for 15 min game, with Lauri as the stretch PF
Vuc-Theis--> defense-focused (Temple+Brown/Thad+Sato) -- for 15 minutes a game, including Vuc-Theis-Thad for 5 min /game just because they'll overlap at some point, just by accident
In that way, Lauri "steals" some time from Pat at SF, but Vuc gets his 30, Thad gets his 20, most of them without Vuc to hoover in all the "big" touches, and Theis gets his 20 min to play some hard-nosed D, mostly with Vuc, so that Vuc can play PF on defense for 20 min and not C.
At this point, Coach D needs to find a way to put enough O on the floor for the majority of the 48 minutes. We can't afford to have Thad and Lauri languish in diminished roles with Zach and his O out.