On more than a handful of NBA teams, Aaron Brooks would be a major story.
A big-time scorer for the 2009-10
Rockets when he won the Most Improved Player Award, he went to China during the NBA lockout in 2011, and since he has searched for a return to greatness with four NBA teams.
But for the Bulls, Brooks has been just another weapon off the bench for coach Tom Thibodeau.
“There’s always room for improvement, but we’re winning games,’’ Brooks said Friday. “I’ve been playing in them, so that’s pretty good.’’
With Kirk Hinrich on the shelf with a bad hamstring, Brooks has been doing more than just “pretty good.’’ Over his last five games, the 6-0 point guard has averaged 15.6 points and 4.6 assists off the bench, and Thibodeau has turned to him to finish games.
“I have a lot of roles,’’ Brooks said. “Coach Thibs uses me however he wants. I knew that would be my role, just whatever is needed at the time. Just gives you different options.
“With this team, you have a lot of different pieces that work. At any given time you can do something different. So I hope Coach is just having fun with all of us and it continues to work.’’
The Bulls have won eight of their last nine. Brooks and his bench mates are a big reason why. Thibodeau also can call upon Nikola Mirotic, Taj Gibson and Hinrich, when he’s healthy. Even E’Twaun Moore and Tony Snell have gotten some minutes in certain matchups.
Such emerging depth seems to have eliminated the need for Thibodeau to have a defined finishing group, which he insisted upon at the start of the season.
“You may have a group going well that you ride,’’ Thibodeau said. “If someone gets a hot hand, you may go with that. You have a pretty good idea of who you’re going to finish with, but that can change if guys are performing well. The big thing is it’s not an individual thing. It’s how the group is performing. We look at everything.
“As [the game winds] down, it’s situational. Do you have a lead? Are you trying to protect the lead? Do you need more scoring? Hopefully, you have that answer on the bench. The big thing is everyone is sacrificing for the team. You have to put the team first.’’
Davis: ‘Nothing that he can’t do’
The New Orleans Pelicans have visited the Bulls twice since Chicago’s own Anthony Davis was chosen out of Kentucky with the first pick in the 2012 draft.
Davis had a concussion the first time and a broken hand the second. It appears he will play in his hometown on Saturday night — and he comes in as a serious MVP candidate.
“He’s something,’’ said Tom Thibodeau, who coached Davis this summer with Team USA. “I was around him all summer, and I don’t know if there’s any big that’s more talented. There’s nothing that he can’t do. He’s got great touch, he can post, put it on the floor. He’s got great hands, he’s great defensively. He’s got the skills of a guard, and the speed and quickness of a guard and, obviously, the size of a big. So it’s a tough combination.’’