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The factor lacking in Hoiball: Free-Throws

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

[Thanks to slomotion for today's post -yfbb]

Dean Oliver suggests that four factors (rebounding, turnovers, shooting percentage, free throws) capture a basketball game.

The Bulls' offense last year (ORating: 107.5, Rank: 11) was predicated on Oliver's last factor, free throws. The Bulls were middle of the pack in shooting, but made up for it by consistently winning the free throw battle. Thibodeau drilled his team to get into the bonus early in quarters, while avoiding fouls on defense to prevent opponents from reaching the charity stripe.


Based on Hoiberg's tenure at Iowa State, it's unlikely he will continue using this area of Bulls' strength in his uptempo offense. You can see from his college statistics that free throws was one of the Cyclones' weakest areas. Hoiberg's teams were not good at getting to the line, and compounded the problem by fouling often on defense:


It's not surprising that Hoiball would not emphasize free throw shooting, as traditional 7SoL offenses are known to produce a European style of basketball that pushes pace. D'Antoni was notorious for his distaste of free throws, as they dramatically slow down the game.

7SoL Suns did not shoot free throws:


...and neither did this past season's Golden State Warriors:


It's interesting to note that despite giving up the tactical advantage of free throw shooting, these offenses were still able to produce elite offensive ratings by generating good shots and shooting a high percentage from the field.

However, it's unlikely that this Bulls team follows the mold, as our personnel does not fit the system. Last year the Bulls were awful shooting the ball from typically high efficiency areas.

Bulls 3rd worst in close shots FG%:


...and also poor at pull-up shots, spelling trouble for one of the main ingredients in Hoiberg's uptempo offense.


Hoiberg's saving grace is that the team shot fairly well in catch and shoot situations, suggesting that getting more open looks in transition should improve the Bulls' offense:


It will be crucially important to see if Hoiberg utilizes the Bulls' strength of managing fouls to his advantage. Hoiberg would be well served to eschew the traditional 7SoL mold, and incorporate the best weapon the Bulls had last season into his offense.