Make a damned layup

Came across this blog post by Erick Blasco on BleacherReport.com that broke down the Bulls-Pistons game from this past weekend:

Anyway you cut it, the Bulls are a finesse, jump-shooting ball club. They took 80 field goal attempts Friday, making 35.

On those 80 attempts, Chicago shot 15-31 from close range, 8-15 from midrange, and 12-32 from long range (6-14 from three).

15-31 from close range is a very disappointing statistic,  especially when you consider that most of the makes were offensive putbacks or Andres Nocioni layups. The lion's share of Chicago’s close-range attempts came on low-percentage shots—contested drives, fadeaways from the post, or running layups.

Most telling was that most of Chicago’s attempts near the basket involved players moving away from the hoop. Nobody on the Bulls roster was athletic enough to consistently finish in traffic, nor was any Bulls player able to initiate offense from the post.

That reminded me of a diary from early October by sbulls9030 explaining how even without acquiring a 'low-post scorer', the changes in the Bulls' roster should improve the offense from their frontcourt simply by making these close shots with more regularity:

The issue here is not how many jump shots the Bulls take or a lack of the post play.  The Bulls take about the same % of jump shots as any other team.  The real issue with this team was its inability to make shots close to the basket.  The Bulls finished dead last in close shot FG% at 50.1%. Average teams in this category shoot 55% on close shots and the leaders in this category shoot over 60% on close shots.  Luckily this is an area that should improve this season because the team said goodbye to Malik Allen, Michael Sweetney, and P.J. Brown who combined to be simply awful last year.

That trio ate up 30 minutes of playing time per game, and took nearly 10 FGA/g with a combined FG% of 41.3%.  Nocioni, Smith, Thomas, and Noah will not only shoot much better inside, but will turn many of those layups into dunks.

Unfortunately, this year's team is shooting even worse in 'close shots': 44.5%

Player  MPG close shooting %
Wallace 32.3 .309
Thomas 19.4 .286 
Smith 17.6 .419 
Noah 12.4 .500  

Not so funny now, is it Joe Smith?

'close shots', do not include tips or dunks. When those are all included together as 'inside' shots:

Player  MPG inside shooting %
Wallace 32.3 .400
Thomas 19.4   .470  
Smith 17.6 .457
Noah 12.4  .500  

Tyrus' abysmal shooting numbers become less abysmal when factoring in that he attempts far more dunks (which is a higher percentage shot, naturally) than the others. But it's all still really awful, and far below last season's mark of .584 (Wallace is also down from last season's inside shooting% mark of .516) and as a group this frontcourt is even worse than what we saw last year with Brown, Allen, and Sweetney. Even Luol's numbers are down from in this category (he's attempting more down low though, so I still consider that progress).

Skiles has mentioned in the past the idea that Hinrich needs to make 'professional layups'. Turns out his frontcourt needs to do the same.

And considering that the minutes distribution listed above hasn't been what we've seen this past week, playing the guy who is "athletic enough to consistently finish in traffic" may help too.

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