Why Derrick Rose turns the Bulls into championship contenders

Why Derrick Rose turns the Bulls into championship contenders

When looking at the Chicago Bulls, fans will always bemoan the lack of offense and cheer for the great defense. Tom Thibodeau's system is set up to exaggerate the Bulls skill [for better on defense and worse on offense] on both ends of the court by running Chicago at a snail's pace.

The lack of pace is why one star player could make such a big difference for this team.

First, understand what Thibodeau is doing every game. He's slowing it down. He's making his team use a good chunk of the shot clock and his opponent's team is using a good chunk of the shot clock because the Bulls always get back on defense and play great transition defense.

Chicago rarely runs leak out plays on offense with their full team typically focusing on the rebound, and this season anyway, they've spend far more resources getting back in transition than they do crashing the offensive glass.

This isn't to say Chicago is typically horrible on the offensive glass, but one change we've seen is Jimmy Butler's offensive rebound rate nearly cut in half because his responsibility this season is to get back on defense not attack the offensive glass so much.

What the style of play does is force both teams into lower percentage offense. Both teams miss out on easy baskets in transition, both teams have to grind it out in the half court where points come less efficiently. Thibodeau is counting on his team to execute better than his opponents. He's counting on his team to be more disciplined.

The result has typically been favorable. The Bulls DO out discipline most teams. This was most glaring in the game against Houston where once Houston had to settle down and play half court offense/defense for 24 seconds every possession they just looked completely out-schemed by Chicago.

The Bulls cans still [and frequently do] get blown up by superior talent or a lack of shooting from their players. Chicago typically does a nice job finding open looks for itself eventually, but it frequently lacks the shooting touch to finish them off as many of those looks are perimeter looks.

Why Derrick Rose elevated the offense

When the Bulls had Rose they played at the same pace and had the same style of half court game, so why was the Bulls offense so much better despite playing a style that yielded low offense? There were a couple reasons.

First, Derrick Rose was a one man fast break.

While the Bulls wouldn't push the tempo and get into a running game, Derrick Rose could initiate a running game and a fast break offense on his own. If he didn't beat everyone back for an easy basket then Chicago could slow the offense down. If he shot and missed, the Bulls transition defense typically wasn't hurt because everyone else could get back.

Derrick Rose allowed the Bulls to selectively run while still positioning their defense to stop opponents from running. This gave them some of the benefits of a faster pace of play without some of the deficit.

Next, when the shot clock's winding down, you need a guy who can make tough shots or create something out of nothing.

Derrick Rose didn't have the best FG% of the various superstars in the league, but like anyone who wears the superstar mantle, he could create something out of nothing with some consistency.

The Bulls will run their offensive system to exhaustion now, they frequently open jump shots out of it, but with Derrick Rose the got a lot more action at the hoop out of it because he could break guys down off the dribble.

Also, when Chicago runs their offense for 15 seconds without getting much going on, they could simply dump the ball to Rose and allow him to create in isolation where he might get a lower percentage shot than we'd like, but a much higher percentage one than the Bulls are getting now with the present roster doing the same thing.

How would another star fit in this system?

Carmelo Anthony will certainly bring the second of these traits. He'll probably be even better at it than Derrick Rose. He won't give the Bulls much in the way of the first, but that's probably okay. Particularly if Rose comes back and plays well also.

For Chicago, to have multiple players who can hit tough shots and generate open looks, it would revolutionize their offense. Prior to Rose's ACL injury, the Bulls were ranked fifth in offensive rating and second in defensive rating. Those are the numbers of a legitimate championship contender. That team still only had one star on offense and played much of the season without Rose.

This season up, the Bulls have plenty of interesting options open to them. There's the chance they could land Anthony, the opportunity to trade for another star player, the hope that Mirotic is the real deal, and a couple draft picks in a deep draft.

Whatever the Bulls make of this season's opportunity, they'll need to hope that Derrick comes back to play like he did prior to the ACL injury, something he hasn't proven he can do yet but was trending in the right direction prior to tearing his meniscus.

Chicago's not a championship contender this year, but they're almost certainly going to improve on last year's win total. This team, which might be a 50 win team still, could add Derrick Rose, Nikola Mirotic, and two 1st rounders in a deep class while subtracting just Carlos Boozer. And that's the worst case scenario.



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  • Way too optimistic. Stop it.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    The only part that is too optimistic IMO is the part about getting Melo.

    Otherwise, the rest is fact. Bulls were a championship contender before Rose tore his ACL. It's en vogue to write "they never had a realistic chance to beat the Heat" but we really don't know that. The Pacers nearly beat the Heat with a similar team, but without a superstar at Rose's level.

    They are a good team this year and they are adding a superstar plus Mirotic plus two rookies, they are clearly going to be better next year.

  • I probably didn't do a good job of writing the headline to match the article, but I was really trying to get to the point of why Derrick Rose was able to push our offensive efficiency from god awful to really good.

    It wasn't meant to predict that Rose will do that in his return, but show the types of traits that would help and why they'd help.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I agree that you blew the title to today's post.

    With the Bulls cutting Erik Murphy and the impending signing of Ronnie Brewer, I am sure that you meant to type, "Why Ronnie Brewer turns the Bulls into championship contenders, this season".

  • The worst case scenario for next year is gonna be better than this year's team. I'd say that that team would at least reach the ECF.

  • Coach Doc Rivers has encouraged PG Chris Paul to not ball-hog so much, and the Clippers team is benefiting. This is what Thibs must demand of Derrick Rose next season.

    Expecting a Rehabbed Rose (who likely will never be MVP Rose again) to use his isolation scoring to elevate the Bulls to championship status is too simplistic. As past playoffs have shown us, even MVP Rose could be neutralized in a playoff series when the opponent focuses their defense upon him. It takes both some balance to the scoring along with elite talent to win the ring in the NBA.

    Can Rose keep his teammates integrated in the offense and make them better? That will be a new dimension to his game if he can. This off-season can Bulls FO add an additional difference maker besides Rehabbed Rose? We will soon see... I expect an active off-season.


  • In reply to Edward:

    Excellent point. I felt that the offense was way too Rose centric for the few games that he played before he got hurt at the beginning of this season. When he comes back next year, the Bulls should run their regular offense like they're running now with Noah in the middle of it. Rose should just be a part of it, not all of it, that should benefit him and all of his teammates, or at least the ones who have some offensive talent.

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    In reply to BigWay:

    BigWay---> Absolutely right. This team could be a 50 win team THIS year. They started playing and getting better after Deng left. They're a team. The ball moves around, with everybody getting a touch. That wasn't the case with Rose, for whatever reason. DR will help the team when he comes back, but has to fit into the team concept. That's when you win the big one.

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    Just read a few interesting quotes from Mirotic today in the spanish press: http://baloncesto.as.com/baloncesto/2014/04/04/nba/1396645133_320363.html

    Since spanish is my main language, I'll try to translate:

    Chicago Bulls: "¿Scared? No. I'm sure I'll be fine. I'm attracted to those things. Of course, there are doubts about how is going to be my first year, but seeing how they are playing, that they need an open player, I would fit perfectly".

    Decision taken?: "I don't rule out staying (at Real Madrid). I have a two-year contract and I'm comfortable. We'll see".

    Being a Rookie: "There's always the risk of not playing too much on the first year, but you don't think about it when you take the step. I'm not going as any rookie, but with many championships earned here. There you have to show that you can win a game in two minutes. I know they're going to make me work. I know that I have to get strong.

    Bench role on Madrid?: "Doellman* it's on a great level, but I'm still here and I don't know what's going to happen"

    * Note: Justin Doellman, undrafted from Xavier (2007) and MVP on last year's spanish league with Valencia. Lots of rumours saying that he's going to be replace Mirotic on Real Madrid".

    The "Idol" Nowitzki: “He can play open, post up, give an extra pass... it's very complete. I think I can do it similar, not like him, but similar".

    World Cup: "I said that I was willing to play the World Cup and they are, the Federation, that has to take de decision, to see if we can play Ibaka or me. I'll respect their decision in any case. I wouldn't be a letdown not going, because I still haven't debuted (with the national team), but of course I would love to".

    The past: "I played football ("soccer") for seven years and, since I grew a lot, they asked me about playing basketball".

    Olympiakos: "In that final we had a 17-point lead on the 2nd quarter. We lacked experience. Now we know that for winning we need to stay really good the 40 minutes"

  • In reply to Felipe Vásquez:

    Thanks so much for sharing Felipe! It sounds like Mirotic has pretty much made up his mind to come to the NBA next season.

  • I'd put not having Boozer in the adding, not subtracting, column.

    There's a lot of caveats to this analysis though. Top 5 offense was in a lockout year where the Bulls had more continuity than most teams, so I don't think that was the real deal in a normal year. Not really sure I buy that Rose comes back to MVP form, and I don't think the Bulls have an adequate replacement for Korver from the teams that did have Rose. The Bulls aren't going to sniff being a top offense until they get three point shooting.

  • Another nice article on Gorgiu Dieng over at ESPN this weekend. It basically makes the point that his play as a starter(12 & 13) makes him look like an ideal fit next to Love and would allow the Wolves to trade Pekovic to a team in need of a bruiser at center(like the Pellies or Hawks) for a quality wing player. It actually calls Dieng the key to the Wolves ability to get Kevin Love to stay.

    Kind of sucks if your a Bulls fan that was on the Dieng draft day train, which most of us were. In that same article Mason Plumlee is now rated as the 3rd best rookie and Dieng is now #9 and trending up. Snell for what it is worth is ranked 23rd.

    Only time will tell how we make out on this move, but things don't look all that great right now, especially with Snell about to lose his already limited minutes to Ronnie Brewer.

    Anyone think/know if Cauley-Stein is anywhere near as good as Deing was in college.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Snell was a projected 2nd round pick. Gar Forman out thought himself, then fired Ron Adams the very next day for questioning personnel decisions.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I know you already pointed out that only time will tell about this year's rookie class (just like with any rookie class), but I have a trivia question that will make you feel even better-

    What do Luis Scola, Al Thornton, Jeff Green, Jamario Moon, Juan Carlos Navarro, Rodney Stuckey and Carl Landry have in common?

    The year Noah- an MVP candidate and virtual lock for All-NBA 2nd Team- was a rookie, those 8 guys were named to the All-Rookie team after the season. Jo wasn't.

    They were, in order, the #3 thru #10 vote-getters. Noah was 11th, and Yi Jianlian was 12th.

    As for Dieng vs WC-S, their per36 stats as sophomores are almost identical, and they are pretty similar players. Dieng can't do much outside the paint, though, while Willie is quick and mobile enough that Thibs would LOVE him switching onto perimeter players on PnR.

    Willie was an All-State Wide Receiver as a senior, he's that mobile. Plus, he won't turn 21 until August, Dieng turned 24 in January. You'd have to assume WCS has more upside with that much of an age difference.

  • Did you know that Jeff Adrien(an undersize nobody of a power forward) has a higher PER than either boozer or Taj. I guess that makes sense since he physically abused them(mostly Taj) again last night. I've liked what I've seen from that guy everytime that he plays against us.

    Speaking of PER, did you know that the nearly deceased Amare Stoudemire has a higher one that any Bulls player other than Noah. Not a ringing endorsement of the PER stat or out roster.

    I'd say that our chances of beating out Toronto for 3rd(and escaping the Brooklyn/Miami bracket) officially ended last night as the Raps beat the Pacers and the Rockets in back to back games. I doubt the Raps lose more than 1 game the rest of the way, maybe none.

  • The bulls should amnesty Rose. Rose's contract goes on for three more years after this season and would prevent the bulls from signing any high level free agents for the length of the contract. Realistically Rose will never be the same player and will never be able to live up to his contract. I think the bulls would be doing themselves and Rose a favor by using the thier amnesty on Rose. Rose would have less pressure on him somewhere else and not as big a spotlight or expectations on him after bieng amnestied. Boozer on the other hand is only under contract for one more season. Rose was a great player but its time to acknowledge reality. I would say the bulls should trade Rose but I don't think any team would want him with his huge contract and injury history. Its time to move on.

  • In reply to DaaaaFan:

    Rose is not eligible for amnesty.
    His contract was signed under the new/current CBA, while it is only old CBA contracts that are eligible for amnesty.

  • In reply to Edward:

    LOL you just destroyed entire comment. Thanks for that info though I wasn't aware of that.

  • In reply to DaaaaFan:

    No problem, at least (unlike another poster) you didn't respond with:
    "Yeah, I knew that, I was just making a joke."

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