I mentioned in Monday’s recap of the Bulls’ 119-111 win over the streaking Heat that Chicago has been shooting a blistering percentage from long range. The Bulls are shooting 44.4 percent from 3 during their three-game winning streak and have made 48 triples over that span. Toss in the Rockets loss where they also shot well from long range, and they’re at 60 made 3-pointers in the last four games with a 44.1 percent success rate.
Extending the sample size to all of January (eight games), and the Bulls are shooting 42.2 percent on 3-pointers, the best mark in the league. They rank eighth in 3-point attempts this month (32 per game), and the other four teams shooting 40-plus percent from distance are all taking roughly 25 3-point attempts per game or less. The Bulls have made the most 3-pointers in the league (108), though the Rockets have played one less game.
So, the Bulls are chucking and hitting at an incredible rate. Look at the percentages of their top guys:
Zach LaVine: 62.5 percent on eight attempts
Lauri Markkanen: 51.7 percent on 58 attempts
Justin Holiday: 50.9 percent on 53 attempts
Nikola Mirotic: 40.5 percent on 37 attempts
Denzel Valentine: 40 percent on 40 attempts
Bobby Portis: 37.5 percent on 16 attempts
Kris Dunn: 34.8 percent on 23 attempts
The rest of the roster has been bad (Jerian Grant is 1 of 15 ... woof), but the rest of the roster doesn’t really matter. That’s a lot of high-level, high-volume 3-point shooting on that list.
LaVine making it rain in his return with some high degree-of-difficulty shots has been fun (side note: the elevation on his jumper is wild), but Markkanen and Holiday really stand out here. Holiday has had some streakiness to him, but he has had three games this month in which he hit at least five 3s, including his career-high seven triples against Miami. Holiday started the year as a chucker who couldn’t make anything, but now that he has to do a bit less he’s making a lot more.
Meanwhile, Lauri made history by becoming the fastest player to 100 3-pointers in NBA history. He’s taking 6.6 3s per game for the season and over seven per game this month, and the great thing about him is he has been really consistent lately. He has made at least half of his 3s in all but one game in January (the loss to Toronto), and in that game he still had 22 points and 12 rebounds because he shot well on 2-pointers.
The Bulls’ fast-paced, egalitarian offense has put Markkanen in position to get plenty of good looks. But a really special thing about him is he can drill 3-pointers well behind the line, and he’s not afraid to launch them. Look at these shots from the Knicks game:
lol at this 3-pointer. Several feet behind the line and KP with not even a terrible contest, but had his guard down just enough. pic.twitter.com/UdSGENvzJx— Jason Patt (@Bulls_Jay) January 11, 2018
Here's another ridiculous 3 from Lauri. Again several feet behind the line, Beasley is napping, and this one with Bulls in a precarious spot. pic.twitter.com/ZC7DKaB40I— Jason Patt (@Bulls_Jay) January 11, 2018
Forcing defenses to cover your big man not only to the 3-point line but several feet past it opens up things for the rest of the offense.
Another interesting I found that when I was snooping around is that the Bulls aren’t doing a whole lot of damage from the corners. They’re in the bottom half of the league in 3-point attempts per game from each corner this month, and they’re at a good but not great 37.8 percent on those shots.
The Bulls are just REALLY killing it on above-the-break 3s. They’re shooting a ridiculous 43.8 percent on 208 of these attempts (26 per game), the best mark in the league. Only three teams have attempted more of these shots this month, and those three teams are all at 34 percent or lower. For reference, the 2015-16 Warriors took about 23 of these shots per game and made over 44 percent.
I guess it’s fitting, then, that the Bulls’ next opponent is the Warriors. The Warriors have won 13 road games in a row, but Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have had their shooting struggles at the United Center. If the Bulls continue to rain fire from deep and those guys struggle, perhaps they’ll go streakbusting yet again.
As for the long term, the Bulls likely have some regression coming with this shooting. LaVine won’t shoot over 60 percent. Holiday won’t keep shooting 50 percent. Lauri will hit a slump. Niko may not be here much longer. But the Bulls will still have a bunch of credible shooters whether Mirotic stays or goes, and this will be one of their calling cards for years to come. Hoiball!