There is something you need to know about me. I like jump shooting. I really, really like jump shooting. Like, a lot. I still miss you, Kyle.
The drafting of Nikola Mirotic got my excited. Watching it come to life years later, especially against Memphis on Dec 19, where he rained in six bombs from deep. Wow.
Who else was giddy watching those McDermott YouTube clips this time last year? Takes me back to those simpler times.
Naturally, with this in mind, whilst also having to find another team to root for come post-season time after the Bulls get beaten by a LeBron James led team, is it any wonder that I purchased first class tickets aboard the Spurs and Warriors bandwagon?
Ok, so I’ve babbled on. You now know more about me. What the hell am I trying to say?
Well, in a round about way, my point is, I would be a happy Chicago fan if we could finally join the norms of the NBA and start playing some 4-out/1-in basketball.
Most teams in the league are now employing variations of offensive sets where they have, at minimum, four players facing the basket and being threats to score from the outside.
Go through the list of NBA teams. The majority are experimenting with this in some form, be it within their main starting units or within their rotations. We’ve seen what the Warriors have done, particularly in the Finals. Who needs bigs?
Meanwhile, in Chicago, we’re closing playoff games against the Cavaliers with Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah, who provide no scoring option from the outside, and inconsistent offensive play in the paint. My head hurts just typing that.
So, how can we achieve this in Chicago now that toy boy Hoiberg is at the helm? How can we bring in this perimeter orientated game style? Do we have the personnel with the current roster to go 4-out/1-in?
We don’t really have many options to go small. We don’t have a Draymond Green type here that can enable that type of small ball. Maybe if Ron Adams had his way come drafting time? Burn.
The obvious answer is giving the reigns to Mirotic at PF. He struggled with his shot this season, only shooting 31.6% from downtown. That number is way below the league average for 2015 (35.0%). This was somewhat expected as he adjusted and transitioned to the NBA game, but the foundation is there for Chicago to have a stretch four option should he improve the consistency of his stroke.
Can we put McDermott in for some small ball four? He did play there in his Creighton days. Could he do it in the Pros? Doug is a complete unknown at this point so using this as a viable rotational move come Oct 29 is certainly a stretch. Scratch this idea for the time being.
Butler at PF? Harrison Barnes can man that position well, why couldn’t a bulldog like Butler? His length would certainly be a reason why it couldn’t work. Barnes wingspan comes in at 6’11.25”. Butler, in comparison, only has a wingspan of 6’7.5”. Is it a complete no go? Probably not, but you would certainly have to be selective with this option against specific match ups.
What about Joakim Noah? Tornado 3s? Yes, I am joking. Calm down. Fred, what do you think?
Look away kids! pic.twitter.com/5TLECVJb7u
— Fred Hoiberg (@ISUMayor32) May 11, 2013
So, what can we do? Do we have any options with this current group come day one of the 2015-16 season?
I think we do.
Something, to me, that was not spoken about enough in Pau’s mini resurgence in his first season with the Bulls - which saw him rewarded with an All-NBA 2nd team selection - was his incredible shooting from 16 to 23 feet.
Why was that?
Why didn’t it get more attention?
It bothered me all season long that we kept using Pau in the post. Don’t get me wrong. He is a good post player and establishing an inside presence, even if it’s only as a passing hub within an offense, is a good idea.
Was that a good idea for this team and it current make up?
Derrick Rose continually struggled to get to the hoop as he assimilated back to the NBA game. Jimmy Butler was a great post option and loves attacking the rim, living in the paint and getting to the line. Joakim Noah couldn’t buy a shot from anywhere.
All this happened, so why did we continually clog the lanes?
Chris Bosh, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Dirk Nowitzki are routinely mentioned as the premier mid-range shooting bigs in the game, and for good reason. Stylistically, these players rely heavily on the jump shot as a main source of their offense. Their styles of play enables their respective teams to have four face up options, something I crave as a fan of the game.
Using these three players' 2014-15 season as a bench mark, focusing on FG% from 16 to 23 feet, where does Pau rate against them?
LaMarcus Aldridge – 40.9%
Chris Bosh – 45.5%
Dirk Nowitzki – 47.4%
Pau Gasol – 48.1%
Is their any credibility in using him more as a jump shooter, similar to Bosh or Aldridge?
To me, there certainly is merit in this idea.
Another thing to consider is the lack of pick and roll basketball the Bulls decided to play, particularly where the screen setter/roll man would be given the ball.
In the recently completed season, the Bulls ranked 27th in the NBA in points from the roll man.
Should this really surprise us?
Not really. Often, when the Bulls did run pick and roll, it was to benefit penetration from our guards, most notably Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler.
When the Bulls did choose to use the big man as a receiver or beneficiary of a pick and roll/pop play, it was often Joakim Noah doing the work, receiving the ball 18 feet out with no readily available moves that could hurt the opposition. No, I am not counting the occasional baseline back door pass he would thread through a defense as a reliable option within a functional offense.
Essentially, what I want is more of this, like we did very well in game 1 against the Cavs, as Coach Nick explains:
As he ages, he will lose his agility. He will lose what speed and any athleticism he has left. Wait, he has some left?
How long can we expect him to bang down low in the post against younger and more athletic big men? Is that efficient basketball?
One of my key interests heading into the Hoiberg era will be how he manages the roles for each player, especially for the veterans in the front court. From his introduction press conference, Fred mentioned this:
I love the versatility of the players, the different lineups that we're going to be able to play -- play small, play big. We've got lineups that I really think can come out and play with pace (and) we've got a great group of veterans who know how to play.
It looks like he will explore a range of combinations, at least early on, most likely settling with a rotation and a game plan at a latter point in the season. How will this break for the team and for each individual?
Will Gasol remain a starter? Will he (hopefully not) still play around 35 minutes a night? Will his role drastically change under new eyes? What will the starting combination up front be?
This all remains to be seen. Ultimately, Coach Hoiberg will be responsible for answering these questions. I hope he can make me happy, just like Kirk used to.