The Chicago Bulls offense through the first seven games of the season has been a struggle to say the least. Fred Hoiberg's space and pace system hasn't come to fruition quite yet, much to our disliking. That being said, all is not lost with Hoiberg's offense early on. There's been one simple baseline out of bounds set, also known as BLOB, that the Bulls have converted on more than one occasion.
It's very basic and starts off with what is essentially a box set, with Derrick Rose taking the ball out of bounds.
In this simple set, Hoiberg loads one side of the floor, leaving the weak-side wide open. This is a crucial piece to the success of this BLOB set, because as Tony Snell comes to set a back-screen on Pau Gasol's defender, Nikola Vucevic...
there's no one there on the weak-side to help Vucevic on the screen. Evan Fournier who's guarding Snell has to stay tight, as he is shooting a respectable 37% from deep. In addition, Elfrid Payton, who's guarding the ball out of bounds, is not in a position to help either, leaving Gasol wide open off of the screen for the dunk.
A few days later in Charlotte, the Bulls were in the same set once again.
Snell sets another very good back-screen on Gasol's man Al Jefferson, who's completely unaware of the impending screen. Because of his size, Jefferson is still able to fight through the screen, but Snell made enough contact to free Gasol up to receive the ball on the left block.
As with the Orlando play, Snell's defender Nicolas Batum has to stay tight to Snell as he is set to come off another screen being set by Nikola Mirotic. Jefferson and Kemba Walker recover late to Gasol, but he's able to convert on a turnaround baby hook shot.
And finally on Saturday night against Minnesota, the Bulls ran this same set once more.
This time we see Doug McDermott in Snell's spot, Gasol in Niko's, Joakim Noah in Pau's previous position, and the play ends in a different result. The play isn't ran as well as the previous, as Kevin Garnett sees McDermott coming and avoids the would-be back-screen. But in the process of doing so, McDermott's defender Tayshaun Prince runs right into Garnett...
In turn, this provides McDermott the open space, albeit with some help from a Gasol screen, to get off the three-point attempt. McDermott doesn't exert much energy in trying to screen Garnett, which is a key piece to the play, but Prince getting caught on Garnett still allows him to get off a very good look.
In it's entirety, this BLOB set is about as simple as it gets, one that you could easily find in any high school coach's playbook. It's a "screen the screener" action, but it's the personnel involved and the loaded strong-side setup that makes it so difficult to defend. This is also a perfect example of Hoiberg using the strengths of McDermott and Snell to free up the big men as well.
As the season progresses, don't be surprised if you start to see more variations and counters of this set. Especially when looking at Jimmy Butler's position, who's mostly just a decoy and a release valve, or Niko's position which is setting the second screen for the shooter. Soon enough, opponents will be accustomed to this set play, and it will be intriguing to see how Hoiberg counters.