Bulls Urged to Cut Free-Agent Forward in Favor of Sharpshooter

Getty Stanley Johnson

Does the Chicago Bulls bench need more shooting? It’s not a crazy thought. In fact, one popular Bulls-centric Twitter account urged the team to make a roster move in favor of retaining a potentially valuable shooter.

Chicago Bulls Talk wants to see the team cut Stanley Johnson to keep Matt Thomas.


The Case for Matt Thomas

When you look at the Bulls bench, there are a good number of athletic, scrappy players, but almost no shooters. Coby White and Alex Caruso are the only average to above-average long-range threats.

With that in mind, it’s easy to imagine how a player like Matt Thomas could help balance out the second unity.

Andrew Miller of Pippen Ain’t Easy sees a similar fit for Thomas. Miller wrote:

Thomas is the type of player that could make the Bulls roster in a niche role to get limited minutes off the bench for head coach Billy Donovan heading into next season. He could be a good value signing for the Bulls that helps to bring another knockdown shooter to the table for what would likely be a third unit role. Two seasons ago, Thomas looked like he could be one of the better outside shooters around the NBA landscape. In his rookie season with the Raptors, Thomas shot nearly 48 percent from beyond the arc and better than 50 percent from inside the arc in more than 40 regular season games played. In 19 games played with the Jazz down the stretch last season, Thomas started to lose his rhythm shooting from downtown. He shot just over 25 percent from beyond the arc and 40 percent from the field in his run with the Jazz. This is an opportunity for Thomas to reverse course and get back on track with his shooting efficiency. Thomas didn’t get a legitimate shot with the Jazz to find success last season. He hit the free agent market once again after just 19 games with the team.

A knock-down shooter who can spread the floor for White and Caruso, who is a fantastic passer, could help to make the second unit pretty deadly. If there is a downside for Thomas, it’s his defense. While he is a willing defender, he has very slow feet and could be targeted if he’s caught in a situation against a team with players capable of taking advantage of him.

That probably wouldn’t be an issue for Johnson.

The Case For Stanley Johnson

Johnson is a bad shooter (just under 30% for his career), not an elite dribble-drive athlete and limited as a post-up option. Quite frankly, you won’t get much from him on the offensive side of the floor.

However, his strength and athleticism make him a potential asset.

Ryan Heckman of Da Windy City called Johnson a strong fit for the Bulls when they signed him. Heckman wrote:

Johnson will not offer the Bulls much on the offensive side, but with a bench unit that includes Coby White and 3-point shooter Alex Caruso, they don’t need much scoring from him. This signing was purely about depth and defense. Now the Bulls’ second unit features a few players who can offer a boost defensively, if need be. Johnson joins Caruso, who is known for his meddling defense, as well as big man Tony Bradley, who is an underrated paint defender. Johnson’s game has always been about defense first, as evidenced by his impact on all three teams he’s played for throughout his career. Even dating back to his time with the Pistons, Johnson came into the league known for this aspect of his game. Although he offers minimal impact on offense, Johnson is well-worth a roster spot because of how well he defends.

While both men may have something to offer the Bulls, if a decision came down to either Thomas or Johnson–which we don’t know if that’s even a thing–keeping the former is the most sensible option.

Even if Thomas isn’t a stalwart on defense, he gives good effort on that end, and his shooting brings an element that could be game-changing on some nights. For that reason, Thomas > Johnson.

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