Much has been made over the Bulls’ alpha-dog fight between Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler. Real or perceived, the fact is the two have to play together when they’re on the court if the Bulls are to be successful this season.
Lately, it looks like they are.
“We’re at our best when those two guys play off of each other,” coach Fred Hoiberg said after practice on Wednesday. “You’ll see it. Sometimes Derrick will have the ball in his hands, get it to Jimmy and run to the corner. Jimmy at times will bring the ball down and find a way to swing it to Derrick. I think those two have had great chemistry when they have been on the floor together.”
Let’s see if that’s true.
The good folks at Basketball-Reference.com keep advanced stats of player combinations. Of the Bulls’ top lineups this season, the most common is Butler-Gasol-Mirotic-Rose-Snell, which has played 190 minutes and produced a -1.4 plus-minus (based on per game average).
As a team, the Bulls have a +2.2 plus-minus per game. Rose is +0.1, and Butler is +1.1
The Bulls’ top-five lineup combos in minutes played include Butler and Rose. The best of them (Butler-Gasol-Gibson-Rose-Snell) is +3.6; the other three range from +0.1 to +1.5. Not exactly the numbers you’d expect from an elite backcourt.
Let’s dig deeper.
Regardless of who is on the court with them, the Butler-Rose combo is +0.2. Splash Brothers II (+24.6) they are not.
While Rose and Butler might be improving together, clearly they have not found that exceptional chemistry.
Interestingly, there is one Bulls players who makes them perform best. This might shock you, but each of them has their highest plus-minus combo with Tony Snell. Rose and Snell combine for +5.6; Butler and Snell are +6.5.
At +3.8 per game, Snell has the highest plus-minus on the team, while rookie Bobby Portis (+6.5) has the highest per 36 minutes.
Even though he won’t read this, Hoiberg might want to consider this quantitative option for Hoiball. Get this: The five-player combo with the highest plus-minus—by far!—is Brooks-Hinrich-McDermott-Mirotic-Noah with a +55.5. They have played just under 20 minutes together.