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Hoiball or Heaveball, The Bulls offense will vary

results don’t matter, so might as well chuck it

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NBA: Preseason-Chicago Bulls at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Friend of the blog Will Gottlieb has a great breakdown of the Bulls preseason offense over at The Athletic. It’s been apparent that after the front office did their work in having no players good enough to where you have to worry about the ball ‘sticking’, head coach Fred Hoiberg is just directing them to run and fling it.

High variability is a bad team’s best friend. Shooting a ton of 3-pointers may be this team’s best chance to be an exciting, competitive team. And if they get hot and make 20 on any given night, they’ll probably win.

This is not the first time a rebuilding team has tried this model. Last year, the Nets and 76ers were both in the top seven in 3-point attempts, and while they were poor in terms of record, they were at least more respectable on the court. So, in order to keep up with better teams, the Bulls are going to let it rip from deep.

Indeed, even in the latest preseason game where the Bulls lost and wound up shooting 11-41 from distance, there was a stretch in the 3rd quarter where they hit 4-6 and tied the game. (I’m sure ‘ball movement’ was said a lot by the telecast, that kind of stuff.) But it’s a fleeting result if there isn’t good process to get the right kind of threes.

Gottlieb has great video cuts here of what you can determine to be a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ three. An obvious common denominator in what makes a ‘good’ three is how open the shooter is, and that comes down to the defense being broken down.

That’s a problem, because the Bulls don’t really have guys who can dribble. Jerian Grant is more of a ‘steady’ spot-up PG who doesn’t have great handle. Kris Dunn had a turnover rate of over 20% last year. Denzel Valentine is too slow and treats the paint like it’s made of lava.

Justin Holiday may be the team’s best player (oh man...) but gets into trouble when trying to drive. Paul Zipser may be the beneficiary of some perimeter passing to him in the corner, but he’s not dynamic offensively either.

The Bulls big men do have range, but they need the space created for them by the guards and wings. Or Mirotic will just YOLO from 28 feet, because he’s comfortable in Chicago.

One way around this is to attack more in transition, so the Bulls players who are less apt to break down a set defender will have a better chance against a team still getting back. If that opportunity has passed, you can see the team get into trouble. There’s been several turnovers this preseason where they’re clearly trying to force action with Robin Lopez as a screener and facilitator, and teams are snuffing that out (also it’s not like Lopez is Arvydas Sabonis or something).

This is all to say that even though playing fast and shooting a lot of threes is part of ‘Hoiball’, another big part of it is having smart players capable of breaking down a defense and making smart on-the-fly decisions. Hoiberg doesn’t really have that, so while you’ll see talk of him finally having a roster that he can coach, it’s maybe more another one setting him up for failure, again.