Explaining the inconsistency of the Chicago Bulls

How does this team get beaten by the Golden State Warriors D-League roster one night, the Clippers two nights later, and then come back and beat Phoenix and Houston in back to backs while missing Joakim Noah in the second game?   
These Bulls have had some great wins and some terrible losses.   They lost to the Nets at home, gave up a 35 point lead to Sacramento, lost to the D-League Golden State roster, but at the same time beat Cleveland, Boston, and Phoenix on the road.  

How can this team be so inconsistent?    It really comes down to a few things.

First and foremost the Bulls are an energy based team.   They don't have superior talent to most of their opponents, and they really need to play harder than them to win.   If you look at the Bulls record when they are on the tail end of a back to back and their opponent isn't, the Bulls have one win.   Against lowly Washington, and required overtime to pull that off.

If you look at the games where the Bulls were rested and their opponent was on a back to back they only have one loss, to Denver in Denver [with signature wins against San Antonio, Cleveland on the road, Boston on the road among others].

How hard the Bulls play vs how hard their opponent plays makes a bigger difference for the Bulls than most teams, because they don't have the star powered offensive players that can just throw in big points in isolation while everyone else rests.   They have to work so hard for their offense, and their defensive scheme is also demanding.   

Throw in the fact that the Bulls are typically light weights in the front court, and it's easy to see why our big men would get worn down quickly when they aren't well rested given that they're typically giving up 20-30 lbs to opponents.  

Just accounting for rest clears up many of the anomalies on the Bulls schedule, but it's clearly not the only factor in this inconsistent team.    The other major factor is the shooting.

The Bulls are not blessed with a good offense [I know, you are shocked].   They're 27th in the league in offensive efficiency.   They're 10th in defensive efficiency.   Combine these facts, and you get a team that's probably trending a bit below .500 which is exactly where the Bulls are.  

However, any given night your shooters can catch fire or you can run into an opponent who's shooter's catch fire.   When the Bulls get those big shooting nights out of Hinrich and Salmons, particularly from the 3 point line, then they elevate their play to a much higher level.   Suddenly everything in the offense works better once teams are punished for shutting down the paint.

This is what happened in the last two games against Phoenix and Houston.

So what can the Bulls do to play at a higher level with more consistency?    With the current roster, not a whole lot sadly.   The rest / non-rest issue is what it is.   It's just a function of the schedule which the Bulls have no control over.   

The shooting is also something they have little control over.   You can't simply will Kirk Hinrich and John Salmons to shoot at a high percentage on a consistent basis.   They're just not good enough to do it.

The few factors that could help the Bulls significantly at the trade deadline would be the following:
1) A consistent three point shooter. 
2) A method of increasing depth, so the team wouldn't be so prone to rest issues
3) A player who can create their own offense and allow guys to rest for full possessions at a time

Nothing on that list is particularly surprising, but it's unlikely we're going to get any of those things at the deadline either.  

The Bulls can't take on short term money unless they get some type of monster player that convinces them to pay the tax.   That's awfully unlikely.    They can't take on long term money unless they want to give up on their 2010 dreams which would be crazy given how close they are.  

They're left trying to make salary neutral trades that improve the talent or improve the fit.   Since no one wants to make a salary neutral trade where they give you more talent than they get, the Bulls are left hoping to find a team who has a player that fits us well for a player we have that fits them well.

That's always a tough one to pull off.  Typically teams value their own players more than other teams' players.    As such, expect the Bulls to remain relatively silent at the trade deadline and expect the team to remain relatively inconsistent going forward.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE VIDEO

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  • The talent is lacking when it comes to scoring no doubt. One emerging All-Star is not enough, and their is no second fiddle if you will right now. I do like the possibilities of Taj and Miller doing a better job of attacking/slipping the screen on the double teaming of Derrick on pick and rolls. That was one of the reasons for success offensively in Houston.

    At least the Bulls seem to be shedding one of their inconsistencies, and that would be lacking a closer. Derrick's starting to be the difference maker down the stretch though he sill has a long ways to go to be proven in that role. Also, Taj's foul trouble creates another inconsistency as the Bulls seem to suffer at times without his energy on the court. His last game in Houston where he was able to get solid minutes evidenced that in spades. I'm not saying he's going to average 16 ppg and 14 boards, but a player needs a consistency to get his rhythm. Sometimes to start the games Taj looks amped, but his quick exits diminish some of that fire and sharpness. Let's hope the silly fouls and somewhat rep driven anticipated calls diminish as the season moves on. The injuries obviously create huge inconsistencies in chemistry and output. Hopefully Joakim and Taj can recuperate as best they can, and continue their crucial presence bringing energy to the court. I don't think it can be overlooked that if Miller can save some health points/energy for a late and post season run and Taj can stay on the court, the Bulls do have a weapon in offensively capable players attacking the, up until recently stifling, gauntlet of other teams doubling Derrick Rose.

  • Theoretically shouldn't what you're saying the Bulls need come from Janero Pargo. That is shaping up to be a pretty bad pick up. He is not providing anything on a consistent basis.

  • You end the scoring inconsistantcy by going an trading for Amare (who is on the block right now) Give them whatever combination they want of Deng,Hinrich,Salmons,Tyrus,B Miller,Draft picks...Then you have Noah,Rose and Amare with money to spend in 2010.Go after Wade,Joe Johnson,Bron,Rudy Gay....1 of them would deffinetly come here.

  • Doug,
    How about trying to get Devin Brown from the Hornets...expiring contract, can shoot the three and create his own shot. I'd take him over Tyrus Thomas any day of the week

  • In reply to FutureGM:

    You act as though you came up with this independently rather than having heard about the fact it has happened.

  • In reply to WearShades:

    LOL! That is just too funny...

  • In reply to WearShades:

    BREAKING NEWS:

    Aaron Gray being traded for Devin Brown.

    http://www.chicagobreakingsports.com/2010/01/bulls-nearing-gray-brown-trade.html

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Just putting the article there. You guys are quick.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    so the starting PF n the starting center both have bad feet and Brad Miller is 1000 years old...what do ya do?..trade the last fairly healthy tall guy...GO Gar n Pax! more weird choice...happy to have Devin Brown but if two of the bigs go down for a few games then what?

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    I think I'd actually rather play with 4 guys than Aaron Gray. I think it was a very good trade and we need someone who can shoot the long ball.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    The Laff-A-Bulls lack talent and grossly over rated players like No-Shot Noah, Klank Hinrich and the Fragile Deng are at the heart of the problem. Pax the trainee along with the apprentice Vinnie are clueless! Free agents are a myth!

    Look at the last game, the athletic skilled Gibson and the skilled old and slow Miller stole the show as the weakling No-Shot Noah sat on the bench, where he belongs!

    Will it take the out of shape Johnson three years to get into NBA shape just like it did Joakim the clown who still gets pushed around under the rim!

  • In reply to Alex:

    Alex you must be watching different games. Noah is much improved, and gets points from the foul line. Good defender and rebounder. Deng has been a good player all year. Maybe his best year. However do agree Kirk can't shoot. Has gotten worse over the years.

  • In reply to JoeKool53:

    Actually, the more that I watch Deng, the less that I like him, he is actually becoming my least favorite Bull.

    Hinrich can be very frustrating at times, but I think that he actually has more value to the Bulls than does Deng.

    They are both grossly overpaid, and I think that you can find another Mope a Dope to replace Deng easier than you can find another guard who does what Hinrich does for this Bulls team.

    On a championship contender, Hinrich would be much more highly regarded than he is on this consistently mediocre Bulls team. Deng is and would still be just another guy.

  • In reply to Alex:

    If James Johnson improves as much as Noah has and produces at the level that Noah has in year three, then James Johnson is an absolue keeper.

    I can easily wait another year and a half for that to happen. I actually was thinking during tonights game that Johnson should have Noah as his mentor and work with him over the summers.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    I'm happy John Paxson and/or Gar Forman got rid of one of their 5 CHEERLEADERS (James Johnson, Tyrus Thomas, Aaron Gray, Jannero Pargo and Lindsey Hunter).

    Maybe now they can work on getting rid of the rest of them, as well as the MISSING MAN...Jerome James.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Fire Paxson and every one he hired! Then trade anyone and everyone except for Rose, who is the only core player!

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    The Cheerleaders are salary place holders. All of those contracts are either rookie deals or expiring. If we're focusing on them, we're focusing on the wrong thing. The bigger question marks are Salmons, Deng, and Hinrich. The fit on this roster needs to be long term because our best two players are young and should be with us for a while.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    You simply do not understand how the game is played, especially the 2010 game.

    The only way we trade James is to enhance the 2010 plan, otherwise we just use his cap space.

    IF we trade him before the deadline, he will be in a deal for one of the 2010 free agents, or in a bigger deal to acquire a bigger expiring contract, to give us more 2010 cap space, ala Tracy McGrady.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Amare looks terrific right now...what are you talking about Doug? And his attitude? Wants wrong with a guy that wants to win. Injury history...ya his knees had surgury but have you seen him? He looks fine,averaging 20 and 10 most nights, plus he is better then about 95% of the bigman in the league...whats not to like? So what if he got poked in the eye. That can happen to anyone. Rose got poked right under his eye last year. This is why the Bulls always suck...we never try to get anyone good. We want the guy thats a solid player and a good person. Never works and thats why we are still where we are today.

  • In reply to FutureGM:

    Gray traded to NO for Devin Brown.

  • In reply to FutureGM:

    ok maybe not tyrus but definetly Aaron Gray

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