2016-17 Chicago Bulls Season Preview: Where’s the Shooting?

The Dunkyard’s NBA season preview continues, with the Chicago Bulls.

Last season by the numbers

  • Record: 42-40 (9th East)
  • Offensive rating: 102.1 (25th)
  • Defensive rating: 103.9 (15th)
  • Pace: 98.2 (13th)
  • True shooting: 52.6% (25th)
  • Turnover rate: 12.6% (11th)
  • Offensive rebounding: 24.5% (13th)
  • Defensive rebounding: 74.9% (21st)
  • Giveashitameter: 1st
  • Highest PER*: 21.7 (Gasol), 21.3 (Butler)

(*) – minimum 1,000 minutes.

At a glance

(Converts the above rankings into a rating out of 10).

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Recap

Fred Hoiberg was brought in to inject some life into Chicago’s offense. In the end, the exact opposite happened.

The first question is how on Earth does a team ranking 3rd in three point percentage only rank 24th in attempts? Seriously Fred, do you really need me to join the dots for you on this one?

The Bulls had McDermott (110 threes at 42.5%) and Mirotic (135 threes at 39.0%) just itching to rain flame on opponents and yet Fred ‘Mr Offense’ Hoiberg decided to keep things muzzled and go with an offense centered around Derek Rose, his broken jumpshot and completely ruined knees.

All up, Rose was granted permission to completely blow spend 26.8% of Chicago’s plays while he was on the court (13th among 77 point guards) while sporting a true shooting percentage of 47.9% (ranked 66th) and a turnover rate of 10.9% (43rd) and an assist rate of 19.3% (65th).

(Cut to Rajon Rondo saying ‘Watch me do that for only half the price – and I’ll even pass the damn ball’).

The result was the league’s 25th ranked shooting and 25th ranked offense. Colour me stunned.

On the defensive end, the Bulls did a decent job of protecting the paint – ranking 8th in two point percentage allowed and 3rd in free throw attempts allowed (FTA/FGA). However, their inability to grab opponents’ missed shots (21st) undid much of the hard work.

It is also worth noting that the Bulls had the league’s 7th ranked defense at the beginning of February before things got completely out of control. The manner in which the players checked out from that point (while very much in the playoff hunt) does not bode well for Hoiberg’s coaching future.

Reasons to be optimistic

Derek Rose is finally gone and the Bulls can stop pretending that the team is built around him or that he’s a star player. That’s New York’s problem now. Giving his possessions to more worthy users will improve the Bulls by default.

Bobby Portis can play basketball and is set to take on a bigger role this season. His rookie PER of 13.8 was solid (despite horrid shooting) and he should be able to improve into a starting-calibre player this season.

Despite his age, Dwayne Wade is still an All-star calibre player – ranking 4th in PER (20.4) last season among shooting guards. He should be able to play at this level for another season or two.

Reasons not to be

The Bulls replaced one overrated point guard who can’t shoot with another in Rondo. While Rondo is significantly cheaper on a per season basis ($14 million) – he comes at the cost of an extra year (Rose’s contract is expiring) and cannot shoot, score or protect the ball (69th out of 77 point guards) to save his life. The Bulls could have done a lot better for their money.

Backing up Rondo will be Carter-Williams, forming quite possibly the worst shooting point guard platoon in NBA history (you find me worse). What is it with the Bulls and point guards who can’t shoot?

Nobody knows how three ball-dominant guards in Butler, Wade and Rondo are going to co-exist on the same court.

Where is the shooting going to come from? The Bulls ranked 25th last season in true shooting percentage and have tried to remedy the situation with Rondo (54th among 77 point guards), Wade (56th out of 77 shooting guards) and Carter-Williams (59th out of 77 point guards).

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Major Ins

Dwayne Wade, Rajon Rondo, Robin Lopez, Michael Carter-Williams.

Major Outs

Derek Rose, Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol.

The Dunkyard’s recommended ‘death’ lineup

  • Wade
  • Butler
  • Mirotic
  • Gibson
  • Portis

Dave’s lowdown

I would be a lot more excited had Chicago signed 2008-09 Dwyane Wade and 2009-10 Rajon Rondo instead of a soon-to-be-35-year-old Wade and a version of Rondo who has recently resembled 2007 Britney Spears more than anyone else.

Nicknamed “The Mayor” for his immense popularity in his home state, Fred Hoiberg’s first season in the big league was a disappointment, and it doesn’t figure to get any easier when he realises that he’s actually the best 3-point shooter on the team.

Chicago will need breakout seasons from 2 of 3 of Nikola Mirotic, Bobby Portis or Doug McDermott to be any real threat in the East, which means somewhere around a 6th-8th seed and a 1st round playoff exit is the best Bulls fans can expect this year.

Forecast record: 44-38

It’s hard to see the Bulls doing anything serious this season. The shooting simply isn’t there and the defensive rebounding looks like it’ll remain an issue too. While a low-seeded playoff berth looks most likely, the Bulls will not contend and definitely look like a team headed towards a rebuilding project rather than one on the rise.