With the 2011-12 season nearing a close, we can be very proud of what our Chicago Bulls have accomplished this year. Last year's Chicago Bulls team led the NBA in wins, compiling a 62-20 record for a .756 winning percentage. This year's club has continued this trend of excellence, posting a 45-14 record and a .763 percentage (would translate to 62.6 wins in an 82 game season). We are on pace to once again lead the league in regular season wins, up 2.5 on the Thunder at this point.
While both this year's and last year's team have had excellent regular seasons, how do these teams compare? What are the differences and the strengths and weaknesses of this year's team vs. last year's team? Via Hoopdata through 4/8
The first thing that jumps out looking at the advanced statistics is how shockingly closely these two teams mirror one another. They play at almost the same below average pace, are in the top third of the league in offensive efficiency, and are amongst the leaders in defensive efficiency.
There are a few interesting points hidden within this data:
1) It is notable that the Bulls have managed to somewhat maintain their offensive efficiency in the lockout season while the league average has dropped about 3 points per 100 possessions, reinforcing the idea that offenses have been a bit sloppy this year without training camps and practice times. The Bulls have lost only 0.5 points per 100 possessions.
2) You know when people always say the Bulls are a really good offensive rebounding team? Well we were pretty good last year (4th in the league), but this year, let's just say we're ridiculous. We are seeing a historically great offensive rebounding team here in the modern era. The 32.91 rate would be the highest in the hoopdata results tracking era dating back to 2006-07.
3) Things last year's team did better: Shoot better overall, get to the line more, better defensive rebounding
Things this year's team does better: Stingier defense, assist on slightly more baskets, turn the ball over slightly less, get more offensive rebounds, shoot 3's at a higher percentage
4) Our one weakness as a team that doesn't get nearly enough focus: Free throw shooting. Last year, we were 26th/30 in the league at 74%. This year? 27th/30 at 72%. If there is one glaring weakness that we need to worry about, especially in the playoffs, it's shooting free throws.
Overall, though, these teams are very, very similar right down to their projected wins. Good offense, great defense, and great rebounding is what the Tom Thibodeau era Bulls are built on. And, of course, Luol Deng averaging over 39 minutes per game.