The Chicago Bulls struggle through a tough week. I discuss the causes and some adjustments to be made.
Bulls Beat #354 - Rough week
There could not have been a better time for the Bulls to get a 4 day break between games. I think they have a good opportunity in front of them to start to turn things around, and quite frankly, if there's going to be a turn around, it needs to happen now. We're well over halfway through the season. They get 2 rest days and 2 days of practice before Houston (who will be without Howard for reportedly up to a month). Really this team has had very little good practice time, and I think it shows. I've always noticed that when they've gotten a really good practice or two in where Thibs will say that it was a great practice and guys were focused, they've come out and shown it with a big win. I think that opportunity is now.
Doug, as far as Dunleavy, you're exactly right. They need this guy back. I think the average fan that doesn't pay enough attention tends to think, "oh Dunleavy is out. No problem. Other guys shouldn't have a problem filling his role." That is flat out wrong. He spaces the floor in a way no one else on this team does. He makes you pay if you leave him open so opposing defenses have to account for him on the floor. And it's not just his shooting. He's such a smart player. He's big, he rebounds, passes the ball well, and helps get the ball moving and hopping which is incredibly important to this teams offense. Think back towards the beginning of the year when we were all in awe of how awesome the offense was this year. Dunleavy is a huge part of that. Fingers crossed, it sounds as if he could suit up Wednesday, but I think we've been singing that song for awhile now, so I'll believe it when I see it.
Some other positives: Noah is starting to look more like himself. He was a lot more active and made some nice athletic plays against phoenix. I saw somewhere were someone posted month to month stats of Rose that show how he's "gotten worse" each month. I don't know if I buy that. Sure his percentages have dropped each month, but he's also playing more minutes each month, and he's being more aggressive each month. I just hope that more of his driving shots start to fall.
We're getting close to the stretch run, so if the Bulls want to be legit, now is the time to show it. They managed 48 wins last season. If this team can't do that or can only match that, then it will be a huge disappointment. Get us 50+ wins and prove that you're a contender. Go Bulls.
1. Gasol is still a very good rim protector as his opponent's shooting average is 53.3% from less than 5 feet. Compare that with two great rim protectors in Anthony Davis and Tyson Chandler who are at 58.5% and 58.6 % respectively. However, at 5-9 feet, Gasol is at 39.5% whereas Davis and Chandler are at 37% and 34.1%. It gets worse at 10-14 feet where Pau is at 42.8% whereas Davis and Chandler are at 36% and 38.9%. Which means, of course, that Pau is much more ineffective when he has to guard opposing centers away from his comfort zone. This is where Pau may hurt us defensively. However, overall, I think that although Pau may not be elite defensively, he's no Dalibor Bagaric. No disrespect to Dalibor, who is now probably biting the heads off of chickens in his native Creepystan.
2. Hinrich hurts the Bulls in multiple ways. Yes, he is the worst player in the NBA (literally) in two important Hollinger metrics (VA & EWA), but what really hurts is that the money the Bulls foolishly spent on him could have gone to a player who actually could have been productive. So not only has Klank clearly lost games for us through stupid and/or ineffective play, but prevented other players from potentially winning games for us. For example, DJ Augustin, where $$$ from Hinrich's contract could have been applied to re-signing him. As an aside, who else who reads this blog gets nauseous when they see Hinrich adjusting his goggles on the sidelines waiting to come into the game. I'm not making this up-I actually get ill. (Maybe some of us can form a support group.)
3. Mirotic's regression is starting to bother me. Aside from his defensive struggles, I am not so sure that he is most effective as a stretch four. He clearly is not an elite three-point shooter, and his drives to the rim can be an adventure. I would like to see him more in the post, where he does seem to have very good footwork, and with those long arms could lead to more efficient scoring. He would also probably draw more fouls.
Doug, I agree with this, but is worrying about seeding really important at this point? Can they actually turn this around to the extent they're a real threat? I just don't see how.
Really don't see much hope for Rose at this point, his splits look terrifying, still averaging over 3 turnovers a game while his shooting percentages get worse and his three point attempts go up and up. This doesn't look like a guy who is rounding back into form, it's a guy who is cooked but is going to try harder and harder to prove that he's not.
His effort on the defensive end isn't exactly setting a shining example either.
So what do you do when you've got 40 million over the next two years committed to a guy who is playing worse than the minimum salary scrap heap players that the Bulls picked up to fill in for him over the last couple of years?
The Bulls are an old team, trying to win now. If winning now isn't possible then the sooner they stop pretending it is the better. Butler and Mirotic are both young enough to rebuild around - they're not franchise players, but they can be cornerstones to a team built like the Hawks or the Spurs. Doesn't have to be a complete tear down all at once, but gradually start sending away some of the older players for younger prospects or salary relief. Then play free agency a bit smarter and don't buy Pau Gasol because he's a bargain at 7m, buy someone who fits the damn team and the scheme you play.
Also as you say get McDermott out there and judge him on more than the 26 three point shots people want to at the moment. I still have faith he'll find his shot and be a productive player.
At the beginning of the year, I wished for D-Rose to be healthy going into the playoffs. So far, so good. And Noah is getting healthy as well. Bulls struggling to stay consistent and have some weaknesses as pointed out by many, but I gotta be happy with overall health so far, especially when Dunleavy comes back. If they are healthy going into the playoffs, they have a decent chance, and that's all I wanted starting the year.
Anyone who wants to pretend like Rose is a serious problem and thinks he must go or somehow does not need to be on the Bulls, I think that is silly and need to realize that without Rose being a solid contributor the Bulls have 0 percent at anything. Think if you were at work and your coworkers didn't contribute much to the overall direct output of your company's success. Think about if you had been out of work for 2 years and you needed to lead your new team of employees to a giant success, actually the best in the business. Now think about doing that with everyone pissed off at you for not being like you were when you were on the top of your game.
If you think that the Bulls should get rid of Rose, then I believe you will be stuck with a mediocre team for the next 5 years. I know he has parts of his games to work on, but I plead for you to go tear your ACL and meniscus, then bust your ass to get back into shape, then tell us how you figured out how to play so well the first year back for good. Give us the secret. We now know that Rose is human, and that is okay for now. We should be content with seeing him play basketball and hope that his rehab continues to be a success this entire year without any major setbacks. Then we can figure out how to make it work in April, that's what it's about.
With Rose playing the way he currently is the Bulls have zero chance of anything. He's playing at below the level of DJ Augustin from last year right now, ie what can get for the minimum. 20 million dollars committed to below minimum level production severely hampers the ability to compete for a championship.
If Rose was showing signs of improvement this could be hand waved away as rust as he makes his recovery, but he's actually playing worse as the season rolls on.
I don't blame Rose, he didn't ask to be injured, but it is what it is. If the Knicks want to trade Stoudemire's expiring for Rose at the deadline I'd do it in a heartbeat.
***I meant, I believe we should be content seeing him play basketball, don't want people to freak out and tell me I told them what to think, just an opinion
The way the Bulls are playing it's hard to have a lot of faith in the team. I still believe the Bulls are a good team but I don't see them as contenders anymore. I also feel there is very real chance of a 1st round exit from the playoffs yet again. If the Bulls keep pace with their current down-slide not only will they get passed in seeding by the Cavs but also the Bucks who is playing surprisingly well this year.
The talent is there individually, but as a team they're not putting it together. I'm not going to point out every issue as I'm sure by now most of the posters here are well aware of them but I do have one thing I wanna say about Rose.
I don't think Derrick Rose has lost it and I don't think he's that rusty anymore either. I believe his problem is that he's afraid of his own abilities. He just doesn't trust his body anymore and is trying to transform into a different kind of player. He wants to play like CP3 or Jason Kidd but he doesn't have the same abilities as those guys. His game is breakneck speed, relentlessly attacking the basket, with a potent mid range game to bat. If you pay attention to how he's playing he's clearly trying to be someone he's not. That's why he keeps jacking up three's and trying to avoid contact. That's why his turnovers are so high because he won't play in his comfort zone because he's afraid to injure his knees again. I really do believe there's an element of fear at play with Rose but it also could be advice given to him from the doctors. Even though we see him out there running up and down the court, the truth is we have no idea what the doctors have told him or how his body actually feels despite what he tells the media. Those injuries took quite a toll on him and it shows in his performance. I have the hope that someday the real Derrick Rose will return but there's also the possibility that he'll never quite be the same again.
Here's a video of the real Derrick Rose how I remember him. He was fearless, reckless, fast, and, explosive, and had a killer instinct. The Rose we're seeing now is the opposite of all the above. Also in the video you can see how Rose damaged his knees. He was very reckless and had several hard irregular landings on his legs. It's really unfortunate he had to endure those devastating injuries because he was truly a great talent. I feel sorry for him in terms of basketball and hope that he can persevere through whatever it is that's holding him back.
Bulls need Rose to play like an all-star to have a shot at winning anything meaningful. So far, as Shakes points out, he's playing worse than minimum-salary guys we've had pass through here. He's an ordinary player and poor shooter acting like he's a superstar and a good 3-point shooter, and it's really killing this team.
I disagree with ajay saying that he's trying to play like CP3 or Kidd in that I don't see him setting up his teammates any more in years past. I'd feel better if I did see him trying to be CP3 or Kidd but that's not what he's doing. The main difference is that instead of attacking, he's trying to shoot 3s. It doesn't work. If I'm an opposing team, I'm not going to bother doubling him. I'll single-cover him, make sure his teammates are covered, and have his man sag off. If he wants to step back and shoot 3s, I'll give him that all night.
One thing that occurred to me is that I think Rose tried to develop a 3-point shot because the last time he played in the playoffs, LeBron was able to single-handed shut down his driving game. He kind of needed a step back 3 to beat LeBron, too bad he's just not good at it.
Also, the big difference to me between earlier in the year and now is that Butler was leading the team, prompting me to post "this is Butler's team now." Want to be clear it was me and only me, some posted that "Some here said it was Butler's team." Not some -- me only.
Well, I stand by it. Earlier this year, it WAS Butler's team, and the Bulls were on fire. Now that Butler has cooled off and we need it to become Rose's team again, well, you see the results.
Regardless of who's team it is, it does appear to be the case that Butler performs better without Rose and does not benefit much if at all from playing with Rose. Either way, that is a huge problem going forward. To go anywhere in the playoffs we need both of them playing at their best together, actually not just them, everybody, Noah, Gasol, Taj.
Terrific analysis in this most recent podcast. You covered all of it basically. What I'd like to know now, HOW TO FIX THIS MESS?
Oh, and the Rose apologists, yeah, keep whistling in the dark.
If you believe that "it's still coming" then you're delusional.
Too bad they can't cut their losses on the 20MIL per drain,
he's a just become a mediocre basketball player and a crappy point guard.
I agree that at this point, Rose is a drain on the team. The question is, is this what we can expect from now on? Or is he still working his way back physically, and there's another level he will reach? It's cute to conclude "he's done" and while I think it's probably true, nobody really knows at this point. What we do know is that if this is it, we're in trouble.
Dunlevey is our Korver. See how Atlanta would do if Korver is out for an extended time. Dunlevey is our true floor spacing and will enable Rose to do the things that he can do more efficiently. On the defense, the Bulls have to get a grip and play with more effort across the board. They are sleepwalking for most of the game and when them put effort they can be a great defensive team. Just look at the Sun's game, where the Bulls got 16 deficit to a 1 point lead in a matter of minutes. Pau cannot be worse than Boozer on defense, so I think the issue is more on chemistry and effort than the ability to go back and become an elite defense team.
I have to accept that Duleavy was more important to the team than I had thought. However, realistically, a G that averages less than 8 ppg is not starting caliber! Period! Even if he does improve the spacing.
So, the Bulls still need what they have needed for a long time - a starting caliber SG! Dunleavy can be great off the bench, so that will also improve.
Even if Noah, Dunleavy, and Rose are all healthy for the playoffs, and Butler plays consistently at a high level, this team does not have enough to win it all. Unless McDermott and Mirotic both start shooting 50%, this team needs the SG. Less than 2 weeks to trade for one. Get on it, FO.
I'm with you on Dunleavy, he is a nice guy to have as a rotation player, but I just don't see him as a starter on a contender.
Maybe it feels like we miss him so much because all or most of his minutes went to 2 of the worst players in the league, the corpsedog and Snell, really 2 guys who don't belong in the league.
It will be interesting to see what happens when he gets back. If we take off on another 13-2 streak then we have to admit that his intangible value is greater than his stats would suggest. I still go back to last seasons playoffs, where he won the one game that we won with his shooting, but had virtually no impact in the other 4 games which we lost.
Good job by Doug on the conundrum that is Gasol. If you go back and watch the final minute of the loss to Phoenix there is a sequence that subtly shows exactly what's wrong with him, and why his stats are fools gold. With just under a minute left Rose drove to the rim forced up a bad shot on the left side of the rim against 3 guys, the shot missed and came off the right side of the rim where Gasol was mostly alone, instead of aggressively attacking the ball and the rim for a putback dunk, he slapped at it with one hand while falling away from the rim and missed the tip in. On the Bulls next possession Brooks got a pass in the lane and aggressively took the ball to the rim getting his body into the big man defending him and made a layup over him. The difference between Brook's(who is under 6 ft tall) aggression and Gasol's(the 7 footer) passiveness is the difference between success and failure. I've asked before what kind of player Gasol would be if he had Noah's passion, what kind of a player would he be if he had Brooks aggression?
Not unlike Rose's injuries and health there isn't anything that can be done about Gasol's inherent passivity/softness, he is the Krispy Kreme Pansey and for better or for worse this is what we are going to get from him for the next 2.5 seasons.
I might be alone on this, but I think Noah would be just fine at PF were he fully healthy. Because he isn't, he can't keep up at PF and now we have a real problem with two Cs.
When Noah was in his early 20's, I might have agreed with you. All NBA players are at their most athletic in their pre age 25 years, and Noah needs his peak athleticism to play PF, especially in today's game. Add the injuries to the age and he is just too diminished athletically, in my opinion.
Aside from his actual ability to play PF, not playing center takes him away from being able to do what he does best thus diminishing his affect on the game even if he is physically able to play PF.
Plus, for some reason he always played center over power forward even in college when he was paired with Horford who was always the stronger player.
I still believe that when push comes to shove in crunch time Thibs will return to closing with Noah at center and Taj at PF.
Hawks forward Elton Brand remembers a scouting report he received at the start of the playoffs in 2012 when he played for the Philadelphia 76ers and Korver played for the Chicago Bulls.
"The scouting report was based on Kyle Korver," Brand said, almost questioning the validity of the report. "They had Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer. And we were worried about Kyle Korver, trapping him and getting the ball out of his hands. I played with him last season and then I understood why. He's an amazing shooter. ... It's unreal."
Korver's mom, Laine, scored 74 points in a high school game. "My mom gets a bunch of love because she scored 74 points in a game. But my dad (Kevin) can shoot the lights out," Korver said, explaining the tight spin his dad puts on the ball on each shot. "He shoots a super tight football spiral. He shoots it so soft."
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