Have Kirk Hinrich and the Bulls changed their defense to generate turnovers?

OKC was so embarrased by this they traded James Harden shortly afterwards. - Mike DiNovo-US PRESSWIRE

Yes, it's small sample size theater, but one of the early season trends that Jay pointed out is the Bulls defense generating a high % of turnovers. The Thibodeau era has certainly always featured an amazing defense, but turnovers hasn't been as important to it as making the opponent take a bad shot and dominating the boards:

Year TO% Rank
2010-11 13.6 11
2011-12 12.8 26
2012-13 17.5 5

This has rung true to me when watching the games so far as well: the Bulls do seem to be generating a lot of fast breaks with their ability to get the ball back, especially via the steal. If you look at steals per possession, it's increased this season as well:

Year Steal% Rank
2010-11 7.1 9
2011-12 6.5 25
2012-13 8.0 13

It shouldn't be surprising that the individual catalyst for this is Kirk Hinrich. He's so brick-tacular on offense it drives me insane, but Hinrich has done a great job on the other end being physical with ballhandlers. Hinrich's steal percentage is currently (yes, 3 games) at 4.3%, which would have him crush his career norms and would've led the league last season in non-garbage-time players (Chris Paul had 3.8%). So if you think (like I have) that Hinrich's been doing a great job raking the ball from the other team, you're correct.

While the Bulls lost their leading steals-generator from last season (Ronnie Brewer) it makes sense at an initial glance that this year's team would be good at it. Not only Hinrich, but the entire lineup has the skills and aptitude to generate more steals. Even Carlos Boozer is relatively good at it, it's probably his best defensive trait beyond standing still.

We'll see if this holds up: a Thibodeau defense is historically about discipline at the expense of gambling, but maybe changing personnel and needs (this team has to get out in transition to score) have changed things.

(unless otherwise noted, I used basketball-reference a lot for this post. So click over there and then come right back to say thanks)

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