Eye-Popping Graph Shows Uniqueness Bulls' Defense & Offensive Rebounding Combo

Eye-Popping Graph Shows Uniqueness Bulls' Defense & Offensive Rebounding Combo

The Bulls led the NBA regular season in defensive efficiency (97.4) and were also fourth in offensive rebounding rate (29.4), according to Hoopdata.com.

The Bulls scored around 128 points per 100 offensive rebounds, slightly above the league average of 120, but only 102 in the first two rounds of the playoffs. In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Heat, they scored an astronomical 31 second chance points on 19 offensive rebounds -- or 163 per 100; a ratio which they met or passed in 13 games this season, including the Jan. 15 win over the Heat at the United Center (John Schuhmann, NBA.com).
This combination of defense and offensive rebound is extremely rare, Tom Ziller found (SBNation; h/t: Kelly Dwyer):

orr drtg chart bulls.jpg

I touched on this topic, identifying that the Heat have a personnel and rotation problem in their matchup against the Bulls, but Ziller expanded:

It's no secret that many elite coaches (or coaches of elite teams, more accurately) have largely abandoned the offensive rebound in favor of a stronger focus on transition defense.
[...]
There are simply no elite defensive teams who double as elite offensive rebounding teams ... except for the Bulls. The Boston Celtics, that other elite defense? That'd be them, in the bottom left corner, the worst offensive rebounding team in the league by far. Boston's defense excelled with five men back almost every time. Chicago did it while still being a force on the offensive glass; you'll often see both big men pushing for position in the restricted area when a short shot goes up. When the Bulls take a long jumper, typically one big man will be in the restricted area, and the other will fill the lane below the free throw circle. (The Los Angeles Lakers and Memphis Grizzlies happen to be the only other teams that finish top-10 in both categories. The Lakers were No. 6 in defense and No. 5 in offensive rebounding; the Grizzlies were No. 9 in defense and No. 6 in offensive rebounding.)
How does Chicago manage this seemingly impossible balance? Joakim Noah be his name.
Noah happens to be one of the best offensive rebounders in the NBA, but he almost never fails to get back on defense. The combination of raw talent, unbridled energy, developed skill and pure athleticism (most frequently animated via footspeed to get down the court) provides Chicago excellence at both ends. Noah has an offensive rebound rate of 13 percent, but is only rarely out of position on defense; if you're looking for hustle in the box score, here it is.
It isn't only Noah, but the Bulls top three defensive bigs include Omer Asik and Taj Gibson, who were, according to BasketballValue.com, the bigs of the most efficient defensive five-man unit in the NBA this season (min. 100 MP). During the regular season, according to Basketball-Reference.com, these three were three of only four NBA players to post defensive ratings under 100 with double-digit offensive rebounding rates (min. 950 MP). The fourth was the undisputed best big in the game, Dwight Howard:
sub 100 drtg plus 10 orb.png

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  • Very interesting statistic, really shows how unique this team is, especially considering that its the whole crew doing it. Is there any team left in the playoffs that could disrupt that? Maybe the Mavericks? Maybe I'm just getting ahead of myself...:)

  • Wow...that's incredible. So basically the Bulls are a super charged offensive rebounding version of the Celtics.

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