The Bulls record isn’t pretty. But for the first time in what feels like forever (2014-2015 season?) the Chicago Bulls are fun to watch. Even when they lose.
A big part of that is Bulls new head coach Billy Donovan who has installed flow to an offense ranked just about at the bottom of the league just one short season ago. Ball movement, big-time scorers getting their points more in the rhythm of the offense, and highlight-reel plays have become more of the rule rather than the exception this season.
The improvement is pretty obvious just with the eye test and unmistakable when you take a look at a stat sheet. The Chicago Bulls 110.6 offensive rating is nearly five points better than it was last season and they rank No. 13 in that category as opposed to second to last in the league like they did in their last season under Boylen.
Over on BballBreakdown.com YouTube page, the guys over there delved into the specifics of why the Bulls offense has looked so much better this season.
The first thing the YouTube video goes into is how the Bulls under Boylen didn’t maximize player’s strengths within particular play sets. An example, is the Bulls frequently used Otto Porter Jr. as a pick-and-roll ball handler even though he was just in the 55th percentile in terms of points per possession in this category as opposed to using him more as a spot-up shooter (career 40 percent 3-point shooter).
After a slow start to the season, the BballBreakdown video also talks about how a large amount of elbow touches (a staple of a Billy Donovan offense) has helped to unlock Wendell Carter Jr. a little bit. According to the video, giving him touches here sucks in defenders opening up opportunities for him to find cutting teammates (per 36 minutes he’s averaging the most assists of his career).
Although the advanced numbers don’t 100 percent support it (14th percentile in points per possession), the video also goes into how Donovan has used Carter Jr. more effectively as a roll man.
Wendell Carter Jr. punched it on Bron pic.twitter.com/NAvxAB98Er— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) January 9, 2021
BballBreakdown is must watch content whenever they do a video about the Bulls so please watch the video.
While the Bulls offense has taken a step forward this season, the defense has dramatically worsened. The Bulls were a top 10 squad in defensive rating last season under the hard-blitzing style Jim Boylen preferred to run. This season they have the second worst defensive rating in the league, an unsightly 115.9.
Of course, they didn’t retain Kris Dunn nor Shaquille Harrison arguably their two best defenders from a season ago. That meshed with how many young guys they still have creates a recipe for a permeable defense.
Regardless, the Bulls have seen tangible, significant improvement under head coach Billy Donovan early on in this season. The most important improvement to some fans may be one that is intangible: the Bulls are legitimately fun to watch.
That’s an awesome development especially in a season where they are still probably going to lose a lot of games.