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If you look at these plays, the Bulls offense isn't a total mess

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The Bulls' offense looks terrible more often than not. However, with Rose starting to play like an NBA basketball player again, some good offensive action can be seen if you really look closely.

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Bulls offense is really a roller coaster ride. While it has looked better lately, too often the Bulls look stagnant with little to no movement outside of the two players that happen to be running a wing pick and roll. However, if you squint really, really hard, you can manage to see some good offense in there.

Spicing Up The High Pick and Roll

I really love Rose running the pick and roll from the point with Gasol. I think Rose is best when attacking right up the middle. However, teams that are good at ICE-ing the pick and roll and really forcing it to one side of the floor can force this into a tough shot for Rose or yet another midrange jumper for Rose.

Rose and Gasol run the high pick and roll. Jimmy is at the weak side wing, and there are shooters in the corners. At first glance, this is nothing special. However, as Shumpert slides over toward Gasol, Jimmy cuts across the lane. This gives Gasol a wide open look. There are several things I like about this play:

  • The three main players involved are Rose, Jimmy, and Pau. Getting your best offensive players actively involved is huge!
  • The timing of Jimmy's cut is perfect. He doesn't want to cut too soon because it brings another defender into the paint where Rose is trying to go. He waits until Rose has taken both Kyrie and Thompson down near the baseline. If Shumpert would have shifted all the way over to Pau blocking that pass (and Rose noticed before making the pass of course), Jimmy would be wide open in the lane.
  • There's not much of a way to counter this play other than what they did: giving Pau the jumper. If Pau is hitting from that spot, it's going to open up that Jimmy cut even more. Pau almost could have made the pass here. The only real counter is for one of the corner defenders to over help on the cut, which should lead to an open corner three.

Rose and Jimmy Working the Pick and Roll Together

I've clamored for more Rose and Jimmy in the pick and roll together. Obviously, the big-small pick and roll has the ability to create more mismatches. However, getting two of your best offensive players actively working together is a priority, and there are many ways in which the small-small pick and roll can cause problems.

This play is just plain odd, but I love it. At first glance, this looks like a simple iso for Jimmy. However, Rose slides over and sets a screen toward the baseline while shooters are spaced on the weakside. Some things I loved:

  • Rose sets a great screen. If you pause it at just the right time, you can see Rose getting perfect contact on LeBron, giving Jimmy an opportunity to drive on the much smaller Kyrie Irving.
  • LeBron goes over the screen. Kyrie was playing somewhat far off of Rose since it appeared that Rose was going to clear out. This is awesome because now Kyrie has to decide whether to sit back in the lane and let Jimmy start going at him downhill, or to hedge the screen. Kyrie hedges.
  • Rose sees the hedge and rolls quickly to the basket. Seriously in just a split second, Rose goes from setting the screen to being wide open in the paint.
  • Rose has options. He goes up strong and gets fouled. However, if you pause just as Rose is starting to elevate, he has a wide open Niko in the corner, and Portis is already there to crash the boards.
  • Again, tough play to counter without having one of the weak side defenders come all the way across to the strong side and zoning up, in which case, one the weak side guys should be open.
  • I really like it because of how quickly that play happens. In a matter of 2 seconds, it goes from looking like an iso for Jimmy, to a fast acting pick and roll. It gets Rose a good paint shot, but it could have easily gotten Jimmy a drive against the much smaller Irving or a kick out to a shooter in the corner.
Here is one with Jimmy setting the screen for Rose out of the horns set.

I don't necessarily like this one for what actually happen as much as a like it for what could have/should have happened:

  • I love the horns set. It puts defenders in an awkward situation, especially with good shooters in the corners. The help really has to come from the other defender at the FT line, which is a long way for slower defenders to travel.
  • Rose again gets to drive middle. That's always a good thing. If you over help from the corners, it's a corner three.
  • Jimmy's defender zoning up more and giving Irving time to recover would have helped a ton here. However, smaller defenders are not used to zoning up. Rose blows right by JR Smith who didn't hedge high enough or hard enough if that was going to be their game plan. He didn't zone up either. This is easy for Rose.
  • There are tons of things I can envision happening here if the D plays it differently. If Jimmy's defender zones up, Taj can set a flare screen on Jimmy's man, Rose zips it to the other side for Jimmy and Jimmy has an option to take a wide open three, or drive at Mozgov, or drive and kick to Pau. The screen the screener action is usually pretty effective if executed correctly. If Jimmy's defender traps Derrick, Jimmy rolls hard to the basket just as Rose did on the last play. Jimmy gets a paint touch and has shooters in both corners. Jimmy could also fade to the middle, Rose passes it to him, and he immediately runs the pick and roll with Taj. Lot's of choices here.

Rose Cutting More

Derrick has to get better about cutting when his defender sags off. However, Rose needs to be put in a position where cutting makes more sense.

This is pretty much a busted play, but it illustrates a few things to me.

  • Rose is positioned on the wing here with Jimmy and Taj running the pick and roll. Sound familiar? Look at the first video posted. Jimmy was on the wing with Rose and Gasol running the pick and roll.
  • The one thing I didn't like was that they were initially running it to the baseline side with Miro in the post. Why? That makes no sense.
  • Luckily, the play gets forced back to the middle. Rose's man helps. Rose cuts and gets a good look at the rim.
  • Too many times, Rose's position is in the corner and not on the wing when he's off ball. As much as I'd like for Rose to find some room for baseline cuts, I see too many situations where there is literally nowhere for Rose to cut because his man is zoned up on the low block. I really think Rose will work better  when he is positioned on the wing and not in the corner.
Unfortunately, these actions are not always the norm. I could pull up play after play where only Rose OR Jimmy are actively involved in a given play. The "take turns" style of offense simply does not work. Hoiberg needs to find ways for both players to be actively involved more often if the offense is going to turn around.