Should Thibodeau better watch how he handles his minutes?

Should Thibodeau better watch how he handles his minutes?

January 17, 2014, 5:30 pm
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CSN Staff

The talk in Chicago, as least it pertains to the Bulls, the last few days has been Jimmy Butler's marathon of a game Wednesday against the Magic. The fourth-year shooting guard played more than 60 minutes in the Bulls' 128-125 triple-overtime win in Orlando, a new Bulls team record.

With the Bulls' championship aspirations for this season gone following Derrick Rose's injury and Luol Deng's departure to Cleveland, the question has arisen about whether or not Thibodeau should be working his players and, in some cases, overworking them in an otherwise meaningless regular season contest.

Thibodeau is notorious for playing his starters -- specifically Deng -- for large portions of the regular season. Deng led the NBA in minutes per game the last two seasons. And while it may not have been a cause, many have speculated that the Bulls are simply too tired from the regular season minutes to compete come playoffs.

[RELATED: Thibodeau defends himself playing Butler 60 minutes]

In Butler's case, it's worth noting that he missed 11 games between November and December with a turf-toe injury. Though he's now healthy, CSN's Kevin Anderson believes there's no reason to have Butler logging the minutes he's logging, especially in games Chicago is losing -- Butler played 46 minutes in the Bulls' 105-83 loss to the Mavericks in December.

"There is no reason -- and in that game, the Bulls were down by 25 in the second quarter -- there is no reason Jimmy Butler, dealing with an injury should be playing 46 of 48 minutes in a blowout loss. He has a major problem with handling minutes in those types of situations."

Tom Cooper, on the other hand, wonders if Thibodeau is getting better. After all, zero Bulls rank in the top-30 minutes played in the NBA. Butler is 40th at 34.2 minutes per game, and Joakim Noah is 53rd at 33.2 minutes per game. Even Deng, when he was with the Bulls, averaged "just" 37.4 minutes per game, which would rank ninth in the league right now.

So what do you think? Should Thibodeau be resting his players more? Does it matter come playoff time? Is a weaker bench to blame?