The Bulls, especially when healthy, has performed better than their record. They’ve lost two games on bad calls (confirmed on the NBA’s L2M report), a third on a highly questionable jump ball, and overall have an awful 2-9 record in close games that should come down to 50/50 situations.
The results should be that random, but a familiar pattern often emerges in these close games down the stretch: Chicago will make a furious run, Zach LaVine will dominate down the stretch, the Bulls will get to a final possession, the whole world knows Zach will get the ball and take the shot, Zach fails to close out the game.
As Stephen Noh cataloged this week, LaVine scores a lot of points in the clutch but his percentages are lacking: just 34 percent from the field and 26 percent from 3.In order to flip the results, the Bulls need to become less predictable towards the end of games.
I know, I know, who else would you possibly want to take the final shot? Coby White can’t throw the ball in the ocean on most nights and no one else on the team can really create a shot off the dribble leaving Zach as the only reasonable choice left.
The answer: run final possession offense through Thad Young.
Do I expect Thad to go into isolation and score? No, not necessarily. Do I trust Thad to make the right decision in a critical possession? Absolutely. The key to getting better results out of these final possessions is to become less predictable.
Get Thad in the post and let the defense react. He can score over many players with good efficiency from this position if left in isolation, he’s an excellent passer and can find a player left open on the perimeter, and he an allow Zach to gain separation off the ball to get a much better look than he might otherwise get.
Pssssst.— Orange is the New Openly Black (@NekiasNBA) February 2, 2021
Don't look now, but Thaddeus Young (@yungsmoove21) is averaging 9.3 assists over his last three games.
A lot of em are coming via DHO -- "Chicago" action is generating pull-up looks or back-cuts -- but Young's quick processing in space has been on display as well. pic.twitter.com/txmJPcInNv
Chicago saw what an offense of Zach playing hero ball all game long looks like last year under Jim Boylen when they had one of the worst offenses in the league. The offense is a lot different, and better, this year, so why go backwards in the most critical possessions?
Instead, put the ball in the hands of someone unlikely to turn it over that has proven they can make the right read and find a good shot for the team. This should yield quality looks for any player on the floor, give the defense a less predictable play to defend, and ultimately improve Chicago’s chances in these close games.