It's no secret at this point in the season that Fred Hoiberg's offense has underwhelmed. His free-flowing system so far this season has been anything but, resembling the more of the old regime's offensive style. Of the many issues surrounding Hoiball, the most glaring problem is the consistent movement and pace offensively, or lack thereof.
While the Bulls in general are doing a better job lately of pushing the ball up the floor by the 21 second mark, more times than not the offense will stagnate resulting in a low efficiency shot. The constant off-ball, side-to-side ball movement from the players that Hoiball needs to be successful, just isn't there as of yet. This problem isn't unsolvable, as the players become more comfortable with Hoiberg's system, the other elements should fall into place, hopefully.
Prior to the season beginning, our own TheHungarianJordan wrote about a few reasons to be excited about the upcoming season of Hoiball, and one of those reasons being Hoiberg's love of the drag screen. To keep it short and sweet, a drag screen is part of the secondary break, when the trailing post player(s) sets a screen, single or double, in transition for the ball-handler as they cross halfcourt.
Drag screens aren't set plays (though they can be at times), rather it's more of reading and reacting to the defense, which is an integral part of Hoiberg's system. Still ranked a miserable 26th in offensive efficiency, in their last four games it appears as though there has been an increased emphasis on setting drag screens in the secondary break. Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler are pushing the ball with more tempo, and the big men are making a more concerted effort to set screens in the secondary break.
For players like Rose and Butler, these type of screens allow them to get going downhill. Both of them, more so Butler, thrive on getting in the lane and to the free throw line, and the drag screen provides them an ample chance of doing so.
And aside from providing Rose and Butler a chance of getting into the lane and the charity stripe, for the likes of Rose in this instance, it can put him into the spots where he can get off high percentage shots, as presented above.
Setting these type of screens presents the offense with numerous advantages with the defense back-peddling in transition. Specifically with the guard and post player defending the play, it puts them on their heals, as evident by the play above between Rose and Joakim Noah against Detroit. More times than not, when properly ran, the guard defending the play will not be able to react quickly enough to the impending screen, which in turn frees up the ball-handler. As a result, it places the defending big man on an island trying to defend the play.
It's not only the two defending the screening action that the offense puts pressure on, it also leaves the remaining three defenders scrambling. What this can lead to is it will open up more opportunities for the shooter(s) spotting up around the arch as well as the roll man, with Pau Gasol popping to the free throw line or as demonstrated with Joakim Noah shown up top.
If there's nothing available off of the initial drag screen, it still has the ability to jump start the offense, preventing stagnation. And as we've seen this season, the offense tends to get bogged down once in the halfcourt. What the drag screen will allow, is to initiate more ball and player movement offensively, especially while the defense is on its heals trying to get set. This action isn't meant to be ran every time down the floor necessarily, as its more reading and reacting, but if the Bulls can make it a consistent fixture in the secondary break it can only benefit the offense.
And seeing as though the Bulls rank near the bottom in transition baskets, their secondary break is a crucial piece to their eventual success offensively. The drag screen isn't going to solve all of the Bulls offensive woes, but it will help push them into the right direction in which Hoiball wants to move.