If the Bulls have one weakness on paper entering this season, it's three point shooting. It's quite possible that it won't be a weakness in reality if Deng or Rose can improve their three point shot, but based on what we've seen, the Bulls have a single reliable three point shooting on the roster. Kyle Korver.
So how important is three point shooting? I went back to look at all of the good teams (defined as 55+ wins or teams that won the title) in the past 10 years to see.
A few interesting things to note, the importance of three point shooting increased considerably in the NBA over time. When you look at 2001, 445 and 439 makes were 10th and 11th in the league. In 2008, the Pistons were 22nd with 487. This jump seemed to start to really take hold around 2004 moving forward.
Looking at the numbers, it's not as important how many threes you take as how efficiently you shoot them. While most good teams are in the top 10 in attempts, what's more important is how efficient you are at making those threes (average historically is 8.5, and it's dragged down considerably by 2001 and 2002 which are the oldest data points).
While compiling this data, I noted there are many teams who jacked up tons of threes without translating to much success, and they were teams who typically hit a high volume of threes on mediocre efficiency (Knicks under D'Antoni, Warriors, etc.. ). I'm not sure if that makes the news any better for the Bulls though as they're likely to struggle in both areas.
While Korver will hopefully shoot over 40% from the three point line, the Bulls as a team don't seem likely to shoot over 35%, and to become a great team, the Bulls would really be bucking the odds with that type of shooting. The teams who've done it have typically been outliers (2004 Pistons, 2008 Rockets) or had absolutely scorers who drew craploads of fouls (Wade, Kobe, Iverson).
What does this mean for the Bulls going into this season? Their best bet for efficient three point shooting is to design an offense that generates a lot of corner three looks for Deng, Rose, and Watson, as well as looks from anywhere for Korver which would maximize the efficiency with the players they have. However, given that denying the corner three is one of the prime objectives of many defenses this is easier said than done.
If the Bulls fail to get generate efficient three point shooting, which seems likely, they'll need to compensate in other areas. I'll discuss how they can do that tomorrow.