For a while now, the Chicago Bulls have been playing short-handed in the front court. Ever since Patrick Williams was lost for the season, Billy Donovan has had to shuffle the starting lineup several times.
Now, it looks like Javonte Green has secured the starting four position going forward, with a mix of Alex Caruso and Derrick Jones Jr. as well.
For the long haul, the Bulls can’t keep trying to shuffle a guy like Caruso into their backup four spot. He belongs on the perimeter, defending and hounding. That’s why the emergence of former Iowa standout Tyler Cook has been a pleasant surprise while Tony Bradley has been out.
Chicago signed Tyler Cook back in September, and then converted his deal to a two-way contract. At the moment, they have needed his services. But, he could be sent back down to the Windy City Bulls later on.
The Bulls recently released forward Alize Johnson, who hardly played this year albeit for some time earlier in the season. In his place, they signed Alfonzo McKinnie. While McKinnie isn’t exactly a guy who can man the post, his hustle and three-point shooting earned him a spot.
Now, the question still remains, who will the Bulls fill that front court depth with?
The Chicago Bulls could have their answer in the front court, right in front of their eyes, with Tyler Cook.
Cook is coming off his most efficient and impactful game of the season just a couple of days ago against the Atlanta Hawks. In 12 minutes, he scored 10 points and grabbed three rebounds while throwing down some thunderous dunks.
In just a few minutes, Cook’s presence in the paint was noticeable. His energy on both ends was infectious.
Cook reminded us a little bit of, dare I say, Taj Gibson back in the day. Now, Taj holds a special place in Bulls fans’ hearts. Cook has a ways to go. But, we got a glimpse of just how much his energy can affect the Bulls in such a positive way.
In seven games this year, Cook has averaged 11.0 minutes, putting up 5.0 points and 2.1 rebounds. It doesn’t sound like much, but Cook also has a PER of 16.68.
By contrast, Zach LaVine has a PER of 22.43. Clearly, Cook has made a huge impact in his limited action so far.
Again, Cook is on a two-way deal with the Bulls. But, instead of sacrificing future assets to try and land another big man, maybe it would be best for Chicago to give Cook a permanent roster spot.
He’s proven he can be an impact player and deserves more time on the court.
Let’s put it this way: would Bulls fans rather see Cook or Bradley as the backup big? I’d venture to guess that most Bulls fans would want Cook, and it’s not even a contest. Bradley has been frustrating to watch at times and plays with little enthusiasm. Cook, on the other hand, is a different breed.
If the Bulls were smart, they would get this kid a roster spot for the remainder of the season. He fits the mold of what they’re doing, and has proven enough in a few games.