Chicago Bulls preseason: Looking for more from the starters in the set offense

Mike DiNovo-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

The Bulls starters didn't have a bad beginning of their opening preseason game. But outside of when they could run the ball, they weren't able to generate quality shots.

Before the Bulls first preseason game on Tuesday I wanted to concentrate on how the starting unit did against their Grizzlies counterparts. As in, before the game turned too much into preseason nonsense.

For the first 7 minutes of the game, the starters (with Jerryd Bayless in for an injured Mike Conley) did match up with one another, with the Grizz coming out on top 15-12.

This won't come off as well as I wish it could, I'm not even a homeless man's Sebastian Pruiti. But I do have some barely-legible notes I took down of their offensive possessions and will try to reconstruct it from the PbP and the ESPN shot chart. How's that for analysis!

  1. Turnover on a really weirdly-forced pass from Noah to Deng. Noah was trying to get it across the lane AND over Deng's defender's head.
  2. After 20 seconds, Hinrich has to hoist a 3 and it front-rim-bricks.
  3. Possession starts with a Boozer post-up that is lazy and goes nowhere. Noah gets the ball up top and makes a nice drive and a layup.
  4. Deng and Booz are on the right-side, not much space is created and Deng misses a fadeaway on the baseline.
  5. Hinrich pushes the ball off of a Grizzlies made basket and goes all the way to the rim to draw 2 FTs
  6. Bulls run again, this time off of a long miss, Deng gets 2 FTs
  7. Hamilton now takes off after a missed Griz jumper, makes a layup
  8. Bulls running again when Hinrich blocks Rudy Gay's reverse layup, but Boozer misses a 4-footer because he sucks (dunno guys, those were my notes)
  9. Bulls set up their standard play where Rip comes off of the baseline screens, he immediately dumps off to Noah who is blocked.
  10. I wrote "mishandled play", which takes 18 seconds off the clock, Deng bricks a 3. (Bulls would score on offensive rebound)
  11. Rip misses a PUJIT
  12. Bulls get the ball to Boozer, who turns/faces and misses badly on jumper
  13. Deng gets a rebound and runs himself into a missed PUJIT. (Stacey King gives the dreaded 'too many jumpers' declaration)
  14. Hamilton with a legitimately nice take of his own man while the Griz frontcourt is slow to recover, makes reverse layup.
  15. That play when the Bulls were running of a Grizzlies turnover and Noah was blocked by the rim on the dunk attempt and fell down.

Overall they weren't terrible, and the Grizzlies do have a fairly good defense. But when the Bulls had to actually slow down and go against a set opponent, things rarely went well. They of course did much better when they could run, a trait that was to even more of a degree in the 3rd quarter when the Bulls forced a ton of Grizzly turnovers.

Some of that is to be expected: for one, every basketball player is better in transition. Hinrich is actually a pretty good fast-break PG and showed it on Tuesday. He is aggressive (dare I say VDN had a point about 'thrust') and can make quality decisions. I don't think the starters are that apt be a great running team, though. Noah is tremendous for his position, but: Hinrich can't really attack the rim (and thus why he's not a great half-court PG), the same with Rip (though he can get out and run, it's often for a long-two), Deng/Boozer aren't really suited for it at all.

However it's all relative: even if they're not great at it, they pretty much need to run because their half-court offense may be much worse. That's concerning as a season-long strategy given the Bulls lack of depth and literally every starter having injury concerns, and thus they'll have to try to get some of their suggested 'inside-out' play in the offensive set going as well.

This post isn't to say we should just dismiss transition opportunities and offensive rebounds as inadmissible: that's important too. But I'd like to see a better performance in this other area. The Cavs are pretty horrendous defensively, so look for the first half-quarter tonight and see if the starters can get something better going.

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