Joakim Noah and Jimmy Butler will determine whether this is a good or great offense

Joakim Noah and Jimmy Butler will determine whether this is a good or great offense

Derrick Rose continues to improve, Pau Gasol continues to impress, Dunleavy or McDermott will add the shooting Chicago needs to space the floor. What will determine if the Bulls are simply good or great on offense will be what they get from the other two guys.

Teams will double Rose. They'll double Gasol. They'll stay with the shooter. That means there's going to be a ton of space for whomever is left on the floor to work with. Those two guys will be Joakim Noah and Jimmy Butler.

The goal of any defense is to make the weak link beat you. Those are the Bulls weaker links.

Joakim make a big impact on offense last season

We know he's not a dynamic scorer, but last season Tom Thibodeau proved you can run an offense through Noah effectively with his array of other tools.

He continues to improve at hitting that wide open mid range shot when teams dare him to shoot it which means he can't be left entirely open on the perimeter.

He has enough athleticism and ball handling skills to make a drive to the basket against a recovering big man and is one of the best big men passers in the NBA for when teams lose someone on a rotation/recovery towards him when he's fed the ball.

In short, we saw last year that when teams didn't respect Noah, he could make the offense go. Yes, teams could shut him down if they game plan around him, but no one will have that luxury against a healthy Bulls squad.

Was it the toe?

Jimmy Butler looks like a beast this preseason. His speed and activity are tremendous, and I wonder if that turf toe injury was bothering him all last year. Butler's another guy who probably needs a half step head start on a defense to have a big impact offensively.

However, as the 4th or 5th option, he should get that half step pretty routinely. When Butler gets some space he's a dynamic finisher. He draws contact at the rim regularly to get to the line and can finish inside.

When teams don't box him out carefully he's a monster on the offensive glass as well. After a 1/7 7 point performance in the preseason opener where he still got to the free throw line for eight attempts, Jimmy Butler has gone back to back with 18 point games on 7/9 and 6/8 shooting.

He's had 20 free throw attempts across the three games so far and his totals are now 14/24 from the field for 43 points. That's some pretty bad ass offensive production. He's yet to hit a three pointer yet, but he also hasn't taken many of them.

In short, he looks a lot more like 2012/13 Butler than 2013/14 Butler which is a great thing for Bulls fans. If Jimmy can simply knock down the corner three with some consistency and do what he's doing now then Chicago should become awfully difficult to stop.

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  • It's still hard to believe that Rose and Butler have not yet started 10 reg. season games together. Rose looks so much more comfortable in the offense than last preseason and he's only played a few games.

    If these games are anything to go by then his return to top form may be quicker than anyone expected. If Gasol keeps up the decent defense then a Taj/Gasol combo could be a bigger threat to finish games.

  • Good point on these two. And if they're what will determine the Bulls level this year then Bulls fans are in for a treat.

    Listening to the podcast now so I want to talk some McDermott and Mirotic. My read on Mirotic is that he needs the lights on. He's a prime time kind of guy. Once we're into the regular season he will not disappoint. If anybody doubts me on this I will be happy to take your money.

    Funny thing about him is I was one of the people saying Mirotic should play SF. And I still think he can, but this team won't need it. Oddly enough, he's kind of been playing a bit of center. He's a legit 6'11" and more mobile compared to Taj at 6'9". When they're on the floor together, I think Niko's been the C. Having a guy who can seriously play anywhere 3 to 5 is just tremendous.

    All due respect to Mc3 but Dunleavy's got to be the starter this year. Doug (the podcaster, not the HORSE champion of the universe) was saying Doug would do better with the starters but I don't know about that. With the playmakers in teh starting lineup a finisher/floor spacer/heady veteran guy like MDJ fills in nicely since there's only one basketball. If you want McBuckets to open up his game to be a real playmaker then he'll flourish from the bench.

    Can we drop Brooks off at the chicken joint we found JL3 at and give E'twaun Moore some burn at the 3rd pt guard already? He can handle the gig better than Aaron Marbury.

  • In reply to Redwhitenblack:

    Your are correct he has been playing center(much to his detriment) when on the floor with Taj, who is also not a center. I too think that Mirotic could play small forward, at least on offense. However, as usual, the Bulls will use him out of his natural position and thus retard his development by a year or 2. I suppose that he could play center agains some second units on teams that really don't have a legitimate second center on their roster.

    Mc3, not bad, at least once he finally starts strokin them. Probably accurately describes what kind of player he is, a specialist.

    Note to self, Taj is 6'7.75", not sure of Mirotic's exact height by he does look to be at least 6'10, shorter than Gasol by not by much. Noah is 6'10.5" so I'm waiting to see them standing right next to each other to see who looks taller.

  • I think the corner 3 shot lacking from Butler is the only thing keeping the Bulls from pay him the 10 million per year that he probably wants. He needs to develop that shot which he should eventually. Noah should be good for 10 pts 10 rebs a game minimum and Butler should get around 14 pts per game. I still strongly feel that you pair Butler and Rose with a scoring wing but maybe they can get this player at the trade deadline.

    The bench has been dreadful with no real scoring threat besides Gibson and Brooks has been a horrible point guard. They should at least give Etwaun Moore a look, my suspicion is he would make that unit function better.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    I agree that Moore should get a look.

    If Thibs only plays Butler 28 to 30 mpg, then he should have a great season. However, he will be tougher to resign! If Thibs wears him out again, his stats will drop and the team might keep him for less. Tough call right now.

    Rose is looking better. Interested to see how he does against the better teams.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    You, me and Dupree(I mean Thibs) all know that you can add at least 10 mpg to those numbers for Butler. He will clearly lead the team in minutes played as Thibs has already demonstrated in preseason, and thats even with McKorver getting a ton of minutes.

    With Thibs, I'll believe it only when I see it.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    3rd on Moore. Jimmy could bring a lot more than 10 million. The SG position is thin around the league and when you look at his peers some of them are drawing eye popping contracts. Doesn't hurt that many club presidents are looking to spend that tv money on players before the gms waste it on hookers and blow. Okay, I just made that last part up. And I definitely did NOT hear it from Pax ;)

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    Not sure where the Moore love is coming from, the guy has barely been able to stay in the league, whereas Brooks once averaged over 19ppg for an entire season as a starter. Brooks is more Ben Gordon with handles and some defensive effort than JL3.

  • Rose looks very fast. And he hit some threes(which I don't think he will do efficiently in the long run). Still, any signs of good shooting we'll take it. I'd rather see him shooting(and hitting) mid range J's, and finishing shots around the basket occasionally. But so far overall he looks good.

    Other then Gasol and Taj, I don't see much offense on this team. Nobody could hit shots late in games against Detroit or Milwaukee(accept Brooks, but he also blew the Detroit game in O.T.). If M and/or M can become legit shooters and contributors then the Bulls will be pretty good. Right now though those two are the big question marks everything hinges on IMO. Snell? It's just hard to see him being a long term steady player. And Butler if he can hit threes 34 or 35% even in limited volume then yes he's an effective player. Still, due to his limited ceiling shooting I wouldn't pay him more then $6-7 Mil per if that.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    I kind of agree with you on his intrinsic value($6-7 million), but I think that Taj money is the minimum that he would even consider, especially with everybody already salivating to spend that new TV money. this could get ugly, unless Jimmy takes a discount for security reasons and signs an extension this month.

  • Gasol has put up decent numbers but I'm slightly concerned with the way he is getting his points. Virtually no scoring on the block. A lot of jumpshots so far. Seems to have a little difficulty establishing deep position. In his prime (5 years ago ) i thought he was the best post player in the league. I was hoping to see flashes of that post game. I am not so sure teams are going to double team him on the post anymore. That would be a big blow for our offense.
    I've been really surprised with his shot blocking in preseason.

  • I'm a big Butler fan. I hope the two sides can come to terms. The cap will be much higher, so maybe Butler gets Taj money or slightly more than that - and I'd be fine with that.

    Noah - heh.... he's less essential now with the crowded front court. However, I'll probably like him more now because his offense is less needed. And, we all know his offense is lacking. He can be more of a pure energy guy, even though he's a bit more than that.

    TWO WORDS: RAY ALLEN. AT THE DEADLINE. Not that Allen is anything special anymore, but he'd be a great fit at SG. I think Allen is leaning heavily towards Cleveland, but the reason he's still a FA is twofold:
    1) He has no need to play a full 82-game schedule.
    2) He wants to make sure whatever team he picks has the best chance to win a title, so why not wait to see who's looking the best in January/February.

    Allan will strongly consider the Bulls if they get out to a great start and have the #1 seed in the East. He loves Thibs from Boston. Chicago has depth, but no premier SG.

  • In reply to Granby:

    Allen may want to see if Rose is healthy before committing. He may want to see good results in Nov/Dec before signing.

  • Hopefully, McKorver(and Mirotic) are shooting lights out and we don't need to wait on Ray Allen to be our savior. At this point is he anything more than just another guy taking minutes from the development of the M&M boys.

  • Really enjoyed your lengthy podcast yesterday, listened to it twice. Sorry that hardly anyone rewarded you by commenting.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Thanks, the podcast definitely appeals to a different crowd, and never gets many comments, but that's okay, I love doing it.

    I thought about doing a quick daily podcast, just 5 minutes long everyday on the Bulls, but I never quite get the energy to get going with it.

  • I listen to just about every podcast, listened to this one, and enjoyed it immensely. Fun now that we have actual substance and game play to talk about, even if it is pre-season.

  • The podcasts rule!

  • Hello Ya 'All

    We looked awfully slow thru the point where we fell down 21 pts. But our 'D' got better and better and Mc D's 3's gave us the comeback spark, alright.

    1- I don't like our 2nd string lineup and will bet you there will be changes. 3 I can see pretty clearly.
    a-No Niko and McD on the floor at the same time--bad defense and Thibs won't stand for it.
    b-More,more minutes for Jimmy.
    c-Less minutes for Brooks. He needs a lot more coaching from Thibs as the season goes on. He just plays sloppy.

    Overall, the newbies are gonna take a good while to blend in before we look smoother out there..,maybe 2/3 of the season. But I 'm not in it to win the most regular season games. I want playoff wins. Team growth and rest/good health are the ticket.


  • In reply to rakmessiah:

    I agree with your long-term assessment of staying healthy and winning in the playoffs.

    Is M&M that bad on D? I thought Mirotic was supposed to be decent on D? I don't really expect much from McDermott defensively, but hopefully he can be average.

  • In reply to Granby:

    Granby, they are very bad together. Plus, Thibs has played Niko at center most of the time. They are young.., they are learning. I guess the question is "How will they get better., faster?"

    What do you think?

  • In reply to rakmessiah:

    Injuries have been the most significant obstacle for the last 3 seasons, so staying healthy goes without saying.

    The second unit has a lot of work to do, but once the regular rotation is finalized/shortened, there will certainly be more involvement from the vets and starters.

    I agree that at least for now, McD and 3kola should not share floor time together. I have proposed in prior posts starting McD, and bringing Dunleavy off the bench.

    Jimmy will get his minutes (and someone else's too).

    As Doug mentioned in his last podcast, it would be ideal if Hinrich picks up the majority of the backup PG minutes.

    There is a lot of potential on this team, and I don't see why they can't reach that potential. I think by mid-season, the Bulls will be crushing any team that's not elite, and will have a good chance to beat the other elite teams on any given night. Like Derrick said a few weeks back, this team will be "dangerous".

  • In reply to rakmessiah:

    Less Brooks just means more Hangdog, does anybody really want to watch that. While not anywhere near as nauseating, Hangdog is the new bozohole.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    That's funny because Hinrich is actually the complete opposite of Boozer. One guy sucks because he play soft, doesn't give effort, is never where he's supposed to be, and acts like an unprofessional with his neanderthal shouting. The other guy plays tough, gives effort every night, is always where he's supposed to be, and is the consummate professional. Hinrich just sucks because he's old, unathletic, and not a shooter though these things are outside of his control.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    You are absolutely right about that. I meant it more from the standpoint of just not enjoying watching him play at all, and always wanting someone else to play in his place, which is why I said less nauseating. You don't hate Hangdog, it is just painful to watch him play and removes all the joy of watching the Bulls play while he is on the court. So it is nothing against him personally, it is just a basketball thing. Also, since there is no one hateable on this team, by default he becomes the guy that I believe everybody will rag on all season.

    I guess that ends up being a good thing, if he is the worst thing that we have to complain about, then we don't have it so bad.

  • Wow, after last nights game(Denver) I have to hope that we haven't made another Snell vs Dieng mistake. That guy Nurkic(or Norkic as our 2 morons Neil and Stacey kept saying) was amazing. He was supposed to be just a big dumb kid from Poland without a lot of skills or athleticism. To me he looked like he has great size, very good athleticism for that size and very nice skills in terms of footwork and post moves. Taj and Niko were completely manhandled by the kid. Remember we technically drafted him at 16 and traded him to Denver with Gary Harris(mostly a no show) for McKorver. At worst I hope that turns out to be the right move for both teams.

    McKorver is most certainly an elite 3 point shooter, likely a world class one, however, he seems to be out of his league athletically and defensively so far. I am not sure that changes unless he completely remakes his body type by losing weight and becoming super lean. Not sure that he has that in him. Maybe we do need to bring in Ray Allen to mentor him on a career of proper dieting to maintain that body type so that he can flourish as a shooting guard. Allen is legendary for his disciplined diet from the day that he entered the league. McKorver still looks like he hasn't shed his baby fat and needs to.

    I'm ready to trade for Nurkic right now, what will it take? Noah. Actually Nurkic also proved that Thibs bigman rotation makes no sense and is untenable long term. We have 2 centers on the roster, Noah and Gasol, we have 2 PF's on the roster(Gibson and Mirotic) neither of whom have the physical capabilities to play center. Yet we start our 2 centers together and then replace them with our 2 power forwards. Don't know for sure what the rotation will be once the regular season starts, but one of the centers will have to be on the floor almost all the time unless the opposition happens to go centerless for brief stretches. I'm not sure that even Noah could have handled Nurkic last night, Gasol's length might have been the only answer, well that and the refs whistle which got him to foul out.

    Finally, Mirotic put the ball on the floor and drove to the hoop several times last night with a couple of nice finishes. He may not be the pure shooter that McKorver is, but he continues to look like the better overall player. He even made a handful of decent defensive plays, again.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I agree with your point about playing 2 centers, then 0 Centers in that second line. I think Thibs is just tinkering and will end up splitting Noah and Gasol for many of the minutes of a game.


    Excellent article by Sam Smith analyzing Thibs' rotations. Sam think McDermott should start moving Dunleavey to the 2nd unit. And then there's the awkwardness of two PFs in the 2nd unit, due to both Cs starting together.

  • Doug...? Where the hell are the posts after the Denver game? I'm kidding. You are probably the most dedicated blogger there is.

    Quick thoughts: I agree Nurkic looked good and makes you hope the McDermott trade over guys like he and Gary Harris was the right move. Time will tell.

    I thought Mirotic and to some extent McDermott at the end of that game showed some flashes. Nikola you can easily imagine being a solid starting quality player some day(soon hopefully). McDermott seems limited so far and really bottled up by defenders one on one on the perimeter. Still, that fast break basket he scored shows maybe he can do more then shoot threes. The fact that both are older and seasoned suggests that by mid to late season we will have a good feel for their futures in the league.

    And again I thought Derrick looked very good on the drive and his handle seems to improve the more he plays and loses himself in the game. I still wish he had another wing scorer who can drive to the basket. It has always been a screaming need that would help him immensely.

  • Seriously, where are the articles? ......Whats going on Doug? Everything OK? I'm a paying customer and I demand answers!

  • For those of you clamoring for more Moore(Etwuan) here is ESPN's analysis of him. In other words stop clamoring.

    If all goes well, Moore will have a great seat for some really good basketball this season. Moore hooked on with the Bulls on a partially-guaranteed deal that probably ensures he will break camp with the team, unless he really stinks it up during preseason. Moore was signed as a practice player and a hedge against injury. We know about Derrick Rose's issues, and for all of Kirk Hinrich's toughness and moxie, he tends to get beat up a lot as well. So Moore could be an important practice player, but he will be situated behind Rose, Hinrich and Aaron Brooks on the Bulls' depth chart. Moore has a combo guard's game, and suffers for it on the defensive end at the pro level. His offensive efficiency has vacillated according to his usage rate -- the more he tries to do, the more unplayable he becomes. His RPM has been negative on both ends of the floor in each of this three NBA seasons. Still, Moore protects the ball well enough and provides just enough of a deep threat to draw a SCHOENE projection just a whisker above replacement level.

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