It's never too early to start tinkering with lineups. Don Nelson started right off the bat and has finally found a productive group he likes out in Golden State. Avery Johnson went back to the guard combination that took him to the NBA Finals last season and has immediately found success.
|Rookie Adam Morrison, who replaced Sean May, had 21 points in his last outing and might be getting used to his starting role. (Getty Images)|
Move: Adam Morrison replaces Sean May.
Reasoning: Morrison needed to snap out of his early season funk, and Bernie Bickerstaff had already gone to Jake Voskuhl as a starter in order to have May give his bench an offensive lift. The intention is to slide Gerald Wallace over to power forward and go small at the start of games, seeking out matchup problems.
Verdict: May seems to respond in whatever capacity he's put in, while Morrison's slump might indicate he's uncomfortable coming off the bench. Although he shot just 3-for-12 in his first start, Morrison was even worse (1-for-9) as a reserve in his next outing. Bickerstaff plugged him back into the lineup against the Hornets on Tuesday and got a career-high 21 points out of him. Morrison is likely to have his rookie ups and downs, but it's important he get into a groove with his role and how he's going to be utilized. If I were Bickerstaff, I'd start both him and May, have Wallace start as my top perimeter defender and bring veteran Brevin Knight off the pine.
Move: Andres Nocioni and Chris Duhon replace P.J. Brown and Ben Gordon.
Reasoning: Gordon's continued struggles give Skiles the impression that he's better suited at the super-sub role he excelled in his rookie year. He also feels Brown is better off backing up Ben Wallace at center.
Verdict: Skiles had to do something. There's no reason the Bulls should be at .500 given the talent on their roster. While he was noncommittal as to how long this would last, it has become obvious that Gordon is a slow starter who can carry a team during hot streaks, but when he goes cold, can kill you. Skiles can't afford to ride out his slumps when he has stifling defenders like Duhon and Thabo Sefolosha at his disposal, so he has to pick his spots and utilize him in the "Microwave" role. That way, when the oven is short-circuiting, you simply pull the plug. Nocioni will make up for an offensive threat like Gordon being out of the lineup, replacing defensive-minded Brown, who you want to keep fresh for the postseason. The moves had to be made, and they will help turn the Bulls around.
Move: Devin Harris replaces Greg Buckner.
Reasoning: As rugged and rough as Avery Johnson wants his Mavs to be, they still require offense to win games. Buckner wasn't giving them any. Meanwhile, Harris, poised for a breakout year, was languishing in his return to a reserve role.