In honor of Grantland being ripped away from us, I bring you 10 things I like and don't like, Bulls edition.
1. Painful, molasses offense
It was my understanding that the Bulls were going to get into sets much more quickly, up the pace and not rely on Pau Gasol post ups with 8 seconds on the shot clock. So what's up with this?
On both of these sets, there are a couple of dribble-pitch weaves at the top, but they just go through the motions. No one is looking to attack, no one is making the defense switch let alone pick anyone up. It's a waste of time! I get it, it's hard to play that fast for an entire 48 minutes. But the team is 18th in the league in pace, 98.6. Faster than last year, but wasn't Hoiball supposed to change this? Ugh.
2. Slow first quarter starts
Down 12-6 early against Cleveland and 15-6 against Detroit, the Bulls have come out with no urgency, enthusiasm or tempo against either of the real NBA teams they have played this year (sorry, not sorry, Brooklyn). Both games ended up being tight at the end, the Bulls being able to come alive, but this is a frustrating way to start games for the Bulls, who seem to think they can just ‘hit the switch' and come alive. That mentality bit them in the ass against Detroit, and will continue to do so against other good teams. Double ugh.
3. Bulls Offense
Here are a couple of notes about how the Bulls offense is doing:
Bulls roll men are scoring 0.60 points per possession out of the PnR (27th) but the ball handlers are scoring 0.99 points per possession out of it (3rd) per SportVU. The Bulls are 27th in the league in assists, averaging 17.0 per game. The Bulls offense has been mediocre, 18th in the league scoring 98.0 points per 100 possessions, they will have to do a better job creating scoring opportunities off of assists. Getting quick and easy buckets was supposed to be a staple of Hoiball, but lack of ball movement and creation has hampered the Bulls so far.
4. Derrick Rose not shooting three's, settling for long two's, but also attacking the rim
Three games played, four, three-pointers attempted (none made). I'm fine with that.
But there's a difference between the mid-range game and long two's. For Derrick, mid-range pull-ups are makeable shots that he should be taking. Long two's are just bad. Low percentage shots for everyone, but especially Rose, without the chance of getting 150% of the points. He's 0-7 on shots 20-24 feet and 5-11 on shots 10-19 feet, per SportVu. You do the math. Here's a look at D-Rose's shot chart through three games:
Rose has taken a bunch of those uber-inefficient long two's and that is really annoying, but my guess is that he's frustrated about missing so many shots in the paint and/orv not getting ANY foul calls. He needs to continue to attack out of the PNR and get to the cup. The lanes are there. Hopefully, as the blurry vision subsides, his game-level fitness increases and he can relearn the speed of the game and regain his touch around the rim. It's a process with Derrick, and we will have to be patient with his inconsistencies. I'm just happy he's out there, getting game reps and not shooting so many 3s.
5. Everything about Nikola Mirotic
Deeeeep three's, pump faking ghosts, pump faking defenders, dribble drives, left handed finishes, 115 offensive rating, +23 net rating, 24.7 usage rate, 71.7 True Shooting Percentage. I love it all. Man, this kid is talented. He's getting the minutes and usage he deserves and making the offense fun to watch. I don't feel the need to say much more than that.
6. Joakim Noah with the second unit
Noah is leading the Bulls with a defensive rating of 88. That is fantastic. He's also last on the Bulls, yes, even below Kirk Hinrich, with an offensive rating of 61. Brutal. Joakim has only played 1 possession with Jimmy, Derrick, Snell, and Niko this season, per NBAwowy.com. We all know the story about Joakim playing alongside Pau Gasol, but I'm not shocked to see his offense being so limited without scorers playing with him.
7. Joakim Noah returning to point-center
The Bulls lack any sort of depth behind Derrick Rose at the point. With Joakim coming off the bench, he can make up for that with his point-center vision and playmaking. The raw numbers don't look great, but Jo's assist percentage is 20.8, which is up there with his career bests. Generally looking more active and bouncy, Joakim still isn't quite up to his 2013-2014 self, but that was a pipe dream anyway. His defensive rebounding numbers are looking solid (only 5 per game, but hid DRB%, at 26.4, is the second highest of his career, and best since 2009-2010).
It's important to acknowledge that his minutes are down to 17.3 per game, the lowest of his career. Joakim is a competitor of the highest clade, and it's no surprise he wanted to set the record straight about his new bench role. His offense has been hard to watch, and I can't help but feel that he needs more minutes to get back into a rhythm. Regardless of where he starts games, Joakim is a critical component to the Bulls success and Hoiberg needs to do a better job of keeping him happy and successful.
8. Doug McDermott shooting 62.5% from deep
Obviously, Dougie won't be shooting this hot all season, but he's looked noticeably less jumpy and uncomfortable on the court. He's also hopping right into shots without hesitation and finally looking like the shooter he was supposed to be all along. McDermott needs to keep stroking the deep ball to give the Bulls a little bench offense, floor spacing and relief for trading up for him in last year's draft.
9. Bulls struggles to guard stretch 4s
The Bulls have gotten killed on plays like this for the past two seasons. Allowing the dribble penetration to Reggie Jackson, who has 3 shooters on the outside. Jackson kicks to Marcus Morris, who swings to Anthony Tolliver who buries a three as Mirotic jogs out to pretend to contest. Especially in late game situations, this is completely unacceptable.
10. Jimmy Butler, Derrick Rose backcourt
Yeah, just try stopping that.