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Bulls vs. Wizards: A little less DJ Augustin going a long way

Jonathan Daniel

The Bulls have been the same team in this 3-1 playoff deficit as they had been in their SinceTradeofDeng run, at least in terms of personnel. Some of their flaws (or at least, 'quirks') have been exacerbated, like Thibodeau's insistence on starting inferior players and being vulnerable to early deficits.

Another issue has been what was actually working well previously being subdued thus far in the playoffs. One of these is the continued struggles of the point-center offense, as Noah is averaging as many turnovers as assists after playing the season like Vlade Divac. Another is who was usually a major recipient of those passes: DJ Augustin.

Augustin exploded for a 25-point Game Two that was more in line with the surprising (yet consistent) performance we'd seen in his 61 games with the Bulls. But at the end of that game, Trevor Ariza was switched onto him and held him scoreless the rest of the way, and outside of that game DJ's been playing poorly.

Augustin has played similar minutes, and has actually increased his usage in the playoffs so it's not a case of lack of aggression or wilting under the playoff glare or something. As a result of simply more shots, his 15.5 points average is actually better than he averaged as a Bull this season. He's just not shooting as well.

PER ORtg DRtg 3PA 3P% 2PA 2P%
Season 16.8 114 105 5.3 41.1% 6.1 42.6%
Playoffs 13.3 99 116 5.5 31.8% 10 32.5%

Augustin commented on the Wiz's adjustment to him:

"He's long and a good defender," Augustin said. "So it's hard to score on him and even get the ball. We can't let that stop us. I can't let that stop me. I just have to find a way."

Augustin said he won't force the issue, although he has driven into traffic wildly on several occasions this series. He does have 17 free-throw attempts.

That's KC Johnson with the observation on Augustin's wild drives, and it's spot-on. DJ has also been seen doing a bit too much foul-baiting (and subsequent complaining) which suggests he has been forcing a bit much.

The Wizards have been aggressive in getting out on DJ and making him uncomfortable, whether that is him not being always set on his 3-point attempts of forcing him midrange, where the additional shots he's taking these playoffs are coming from (with poor results). This shows DJ's percentage of shots taken by distance, and his success at each range.

0->3ft FG% 3->10ft FG% 10->16ft FG%
Season 22.5% 53.8% 9.5% 24.2% 6.9% 37.5%
Playoffs 27.4% 47.1% 14.5% 22.2% 12.9% 12.5%

And this only (somewhat) tells half the story, as Augustin is getting torched on defense. The defensive rating shows it above, and it's obvious whenever he enters the game. The Wizards, especially Andre Miller, attack Augustin whenever they can. Thibs has been keeping Augustin defensively off the ball more lately to try and prevent this, but even that backfired, most noticeably in the first half of Game 4 when Augustin had 3 fouls in just over 5 minutes.

This isn't some glaring indictment on Augustin as a player as it on the Bulls current roster. He was the team's leading scorer this season, they unfortunately need him to be great. He hasn't been, and it's hurt.

[all stats from B-R, and 'season' refers to his time with the Bulls only.]