Facing an opponent with a greater than .500 record, the Chicago Bulls once again failed to come away with a victory. struggling to score struggled to score in a 111-98 final.
Fitting for a team with the fourth worst offensive net rating in the NBA, Chicago had a true shooting percentage of 49 percent with only three players shooting over 40 percent from the field in the game. Even Zach LaVine, with a team high 24 points, had an unspectacular game efficiency wise (seven of 19 from the field). LaVine, Thaddeus Young, and Kris Dunn were the only Bulls to score double digits while the rest of the team combined for 54 points. Tomas Satoransky went three of 11, Coby White couldn’t provide a spark off the bench and shot two of eight. Most worrisome was Lauri Markkanen making only two of his 11 attempts, both makes coming on tip-in offensive rebounds.
Chicago can’t keep relying solely on performances from LaVine to bail them out. Because on nights where he isn’t going berserk from the field, the Bulls offense is struggling to even stay close with their opposition. This problem is even more noticeable they do show up against the top contenders in the league.
In a game where LaVine wasn’t at his best and with WCJ sidelined, it’s up to Markkanen to step up. But instead the same impotence which had plagued him earlier in the season has come back around lately. Lauri was abysmal from three (0-7) and took only 11 shot attempts overall, which was the fourth highest for Chicago in the game.
If the Bulls do really view Markkanen as an integral part in their offense, they need to find ways to get him the ball where he’s not just taking a spot up jumper. While distance shooting is his best skill, Markkanen shouldn’t be pigeon-holed into this type of offensive role. He has at points in his career flashed the potential to do so much more with the basketball in his hands and the Bulls need to run more plays where they get him moving.
By my count (which is probably wrong), Lauri has been involved in 2 half court possessions:— Will Gottlieb (@wontgottlieb) January 20, 2020
A double down screen where he didnt get the entry pass and this... pic.twitter.com/91LDFsUsPe
Only four of Markkanen’s attempts came inside the three-point line and he needs to get more shots up from other levels of the court. This will make him more involved in the offense and forces defense to not just hound him on the three-point line. This season, Markkanen has taken 53% of his attempts from three. Last year that mark was under 42%, and in his excellent February in that season it was only 38%.
Markkanen taking a lot of threes per game should be something Chicago ultimately strives for, but not at the rate he is now. After a red hot December, Markkanen has hit a bit of a mini slump, coinciding (or maybe caused) by an ankle sprain. While his place since are not as bad as they were in November, he simply isn’t finding the ball. Two of the last three games, Markkannen hasn’t scored in the second half.
Needless to say, the Bulls offense struggles when not getting LaVine heroics. When their second best offensive option sometimes is not even taking a shot in entire halves of games you get a recipe for disaster.