Bulls progress showing in lesser need for Rose to be ridiculously great

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 21: Richard Hamilton #32 of the Chicago Bulls puts up a shot over D.J. Augustin #14 of the Charlotte Bobcats at the United Center on January 21, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Bobcats 95-89. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The Bulls didn't get many games with Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer in the lineup together last season, heavily increasing, the playing time of Kurt Thomas. Thomas didn't hurt the team, but where his teammates were covering up his deficiencies, consistency in the offense was difficult to execute and often painful to watch.

Tom Thibodeau made the correct trade-off toward a 62-win season -- to sacrifice having more than three scoring options on the court to maintain continuity in the dominance of the defense. No matter how bad the offense, the Bulls were so seldom out of games that they faced blowouts at a rate that felt was within a margin of error for any 60-win team.

The goal of the offseason wasn't to add a shooting guard. The goal was to diversify the offense without the trade-off of their bread and butter -- the defense.

The addition of Richard Hamilton was a means to the end of -- more than lessening the load Derrick Rose was carrying, but -- lessening the need for him to be nearly flawless. Other means to this end was improving Ronnie Brewer's jumpshot, C.J. Watson utilizing his speed and handles more and trust his teammates to follow that pace to force mismatches, more active legs from all wing players to create and find space in sync with the ways in which Rose moves the defense, and that movement being trusted by ball handlers to allow for plays to mature -- even when Rose is off the ball.

The NBA-best 16-3 Bulls' unadjusted plus-minus per 100 possessions is higher this year without Rose on the court than with him on the court, according to BasketballValue.com -- plus-12.49 to plus-11.12 for Rose's minus-1.37 net rating. The offensive rating is higher with Rose (108.53), but the 105.04 without Rose on the court, which is pretty good next to Basketball-Reference.com's (BBR) 102.4 NBA average.*

Sure, Rose is off the court against the worse players on opposing teams and the games played without Rose have largely been against scrubs. But the 2011 meme was that Bulls were average at best if not bad without Rose. Data said otherwise, but that off the table, the Bulls have clearly improved on both ends of the floor without many additions of subtractions on the roster to become arguably the deepest team in the NBA.

Last season Rose's unadjusted plus-minus was a whopping plus-2.43 and the Bulls were only scoring 100.63 per 100 possessions without him on the floor.

  • On the other hand, the Bulls' offensive numbers are through the roof with Hamilton on the floor, scoring 115.19 per 100 possessions in over 224 minutes, compared to 104.04 in just under 640 minutes -- for a plus-1.15 net rating. He's averaging 14.2 PPG, 3.9 APG, shooting a .531 eFG% in nine games this season.
  • And if you look now, the Bulls have had the most efficient offense in the NBA, scoring 108.5 points per 100 possessions, according to BBR, in a year where scoring is 'horribly' down. Sure, they've had the third-weakest schedule so far, in terms of opponents, but they've also played more games (19) than any other team 30 days into the season.
  • That said, the Bulls were tied for seventh-worst at the pick-n-roll, coming into Monday's games. They're handler-screener distribution is about average and the handler's scoring in the top ten, in terms of points per possession. But the screener is scoring a tied-for-second-worst 0.73 PPP. This is why you should care how Boozer scores his points; by staying outside, he's taking a lower-percentage shots with odds of getting to the line at a rate that's irrelevant, leaving a lot of points on the floor. (h/t: Zach Lowe)
  • "It's a scientifically-proven fact that white benchwarming NBA players become crowd favorites more easily than any other type of player," Glenn Davis wrote on the NBA posting Brain Scalabrine 's air reverse to their official YouTube channel.
  • Of the "10 things all big men should know", keeping the ball high advice to Omer Asik and 'not falling in love with jump shots' for Carlos Boozer stick out. It's a excellent post by consultant Mike Procopio, who's worked with Boozer, as well as Joakim Noah and notable players like Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Dwyane Wade, and many others. The information he relays can aid the NBA enthusiast as much as the casual observer in better understanding how to watch the game. (h/t: Henry Abbott)
  • Not all shots are the same, hence the value of effective FG% over the flatter FG%, but it's still slightly flawed in discovering shot efficiency. Buzzer-beating shots behind the halfcourt line lower both, along with 3P%. All ball handlers attempt these shots so they even out comparing volume shooters across the league, but they slightly skew the data we have to analyze the efficiency of shooters. Ethan Sherwood Strauss has an ingenious solution: treat them as fouled shots, where they only count if they go in. This makes sense as no one selects these shots; they're forced and distorted by the situation.
  • What Scal already knows has him on a path toward broadcasting or coaching, but that he's actively learning shows he's taking an equivalent of knowledge he's giving. He said in an interview with SLAM, showing he's much more than a fan mascot:
    It's all about the goal of guys getting better. But practice isn't like a marathon for me to do that, I don't have to play Omer to 21 or something like that. It's more like two or three possessions, going bang, bang, bang, those types of things, and competing. I'm willing to help every player on the Bulls, but my focus is really on wanting to help the bigs keep getting better. I want to help them understand defensively what we want to do on pick-and-rolls for example, and offensively getting into the paint, or setting the screen, being ready to go up strong, getting the ball in the post, that sort of thing. Those are the things I work on with guys at practice. And I'm not saying I know how to do everything either, and even right now with Derrick sitting on the sidelines, he's been showing me different things about how guards are, about how to guard certain guys, you can't do this, you don't want to do that, and I'm just always trying to learn more about the game every day. Along with that, I'm also trying to pass on the things I already know from being with [Thibs] for five years to our bigs.

* -- BasketballValue.com doesn't post the NBA averages. According to their method, the Bulls' ORtg is 106.99, compared to BBR's 108.5 and Hoopdata.com's 104.4, so I assume the former's method is closer to BasketballValue.com's than Hoopdata.

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