How can the Bulls win games with the present injuries?

In my first column covering the loss to the Raptors I pointed out that the Bulls presently can’t win in any standard phase of basketball right now.    On offense, they don’t have efficient scoring via the free throw line, three point line, or low post offense.   No offense driven by the mid range jump shot is ever going to defeat an offense with a source of efficiency noted above.  

On defense, they no longer have the depth or personnel to go with 48 minutes of intensity of ball hawking pressure defense.   Lindsay Hunter and Brad Miller playing at their highest intensity are still too slow, Jannero Pargo isn’t a SG defender when healthy, and he’s playing hurt.  The starting lineup has athletes, but they all need to play big minutes and will get worn down quickly trying to play a pressure defense.
After that, what’s left?   If you can’t win on offense or defense, your team is pretty much screwed right?   I’d tend to say yes.  I’m not going to pretend I can solve this problem, because the solution probably is “we’re screwed”, but since a blog post pointing out how screwed we are isn’t too insightful, I’ve come up with an idea to make the best of the defense and offense.

First, stop the extraordinarily aggressive trapping after virtually every pick and roll and decide to either switch or run through the screens.    The thing is, we’re not trapping effectively, we’re calling traps on guards that really aren’t a threat even off a pick, and we’re getting burned a whole lot trying to recover after the trap.  

After the trap the whole team goes in motion trying to help each other and rotate to cover someone else’s guy.   However, because we’re never getting enough pressure on the ball off the trap the first pass is typically easily made, and then the Bulls are left scrambling around trying to play catch up.  

At times, this defense has worked excellently, and it was a driving force in their early wins, but it takes a whole lot of energy to play it, and we don’t have a whole lot of energy on the floor with a roster short on athleticism and depth.   You’re wearing guys out, and you’re not accomplishing a goal.

Instead, trap the really good guards that are going to kick your ass if you don’t trap them, and make Derrick Rose fight through the screen otherwise.   This will save energy for the whole team, and it will stop the amount of wide open looks teams are getting after a couple passes.   The threat is that mediocre guards start destroying us off the pick and roll, but if you have Derrick go under the screens then you’re forcing mediocre guards to beat you with long range shooting while coming of screens.   That seems like an acceptable outcome to me.

On offense the Bulls need to ramp up the pace.   They’re presently playing one of the slowest paces in the league, and if they were defending and rebounding at a high level that might be okay.   However, their defense is getting it’s ass kicked, and they’re rebounding like one of the worst teams in the league.   Leaving guys back and controlling the defensive glass isn’t working because the team is too easily pushed around. 

Instead, the Bulls should send their guards streaking down the court as soon as an opponents shot goes up and attempt to get a bunch of cherry picked baskets by having fewer rebounders on defense, but having an excellent transition offense.   It sounds counterintuitive.

Improve the rebounding by having less players to rebound.   However, by having two rebounders and three guys going to attack you’re going to force the opponents into tough defensive situations repeatedly whenever you get a rebound.   The guards need to play effectively and ultra aggressively for this to work, but if it does, they’ll get a lot of three on ones, three on twos, or three on threes to go up against.

All of those situations are huge advantages for your offense.   If you make teams pay quickly in those situations repatedly then they’ll stop trying to pound the offensive glass on you and instead they’ll hustle back on defense immediately after a shot is launched.   The theory is you’re trying to force the opponent to react to you.

Obviously, this plan has the downside that if you can’t control the glass well enough, make good enough outlet passes, or your guards can’t convert in the transition / early offense then this plan is an utter failure.   I view it not as a likely success, but as something you can try to mix things up.

Right now, the Bulls are getting beat in all phases, and their conservative style is turning it into a game of talent in all phases.   They need to realize that they aren’t going to win a game of talent too often right now, so they need to increase the luck factor until Kirk and Tyrus are back.

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  • Injuries are an EXCUSE.

    It's about SHOWING UP and PLAYING HARD for 48 minutes.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Correction.

    Injuries aren't an EXCUSE.

  • Jst keep accepting MEDIOCRITY Doug. You are good at.

    This team has been SHOWN UP by LBJ and Jarrett Jack the last two games out. Where's the LEADERSHIP? How about writing about that, instead making EXCUSES about injuries to below average players like Tyrus Thomas and Kirk Hinrich?

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Get a clue!!!

    Before their subs could even get in the game, the Bulls were down by 21 points in the 1st quarter to the Toronto Raptors. Is that acceptable to you?

    LBJ SHOWED UP the Bulls by dancing on the sideline when game is still going on. Joakim Noah says something to him, but the team captain, Luol Deng, and the franchise player, Derrick Rose, sit quietly on the bench. Is that acceptable to you?

    Jarrett Jack SHOWED UP the Bulls by lacing up his shoes in a casual way, while the team captain, Luol Deng, doesn't even go for a steal. Is that acceptable to you?

    Where's the Leadership at? It's not coming from Derrick Rose, the franchise player, or Luol Deng, the team captain, that's for sure. You may be happy and content with that, but as a life-long fan of this team, I'm not.

    I don't find EXCUSES in BLOW-OUTS or lack of LEADERSHIP. There aren't any.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    This is nothing new...what leader has the Bulls had? For this team, it really doesn't matter, if they had Maurice Lucas on the team...they would still be a team struggling to win games. Its about talent. The Bulls are mediocre and playing like it.

    Injuries are NOT an excuse...a key injury to one of the Boston Celtics is the key reason why so many people overrate the Bulls now. Having a 7 man rotation right now cannot possibly be helpful.

  • In reply to Houston:

    Injuries isn't stopping this team from winning, a lack of leadership and heart is.

    The Bulls didn't lost to Toronto by 32 points because they didn't have Tyrus Thomas or Kirk Hinrich. They lost because Derrick Rose and Luol Deng showed no leadership and no heart.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Correction.

    Injuries aren't stopping this team from winning, a lack of leadership and heart are.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    You can talk about X and O's all you want. However, that's not the problem.

    Derrick Rose and Luol Deng have to start showing some HEART and LEADERSHIP on and off the court. They are the two best players on the Bulls' roster, so it's up to them to set to the tone and carry this team to victory.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    NBA...where heart and leadership matters

    lol...gtfohwtb mrhappy. go start up your own Bulls blog and share your pessimism and lack of knowledgable critiques and repetitive demands for heart and leadership.

    we don't want to hear/read it here.

  • In reply to djphillie:

    I do have my own blog, thank you.

    Don't be jealous of my words, instead try being insightful, if you can.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    While I will agree that it is very important to have a leader on the team, it should have been a clear to anyone watching, and also anyone reading these blogs, that the Bulls biggest problem is that they dont have a leader. Everyone knows that...what I take issue with, Mr. Happy, is what were your expectations coming into this season? I've got news for you, the Bulls are playing just about exactly how I thought they would...did you think they were going to be good this year? If so, what NBA do you watch? Is there a different league? As noted, this team, even when 100% healthy, is in the bottom tier of talent. Recongize what this season is, and accept it, otherwise you're going to be miserable for no reason...

  • In reply to Dmband:

    I do expect the Bulls to be a playoff team this year.

    However, their team success relies on the development of Derrick Rose and Luol Deng as players and leaders.

    Make no mistake about that.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    mr (un)happy please stop making a fool of yourself. I have an idea...let's break your arm and then have you run up and down the court and see how many rebounds you can get....mind you not using injury as an excuse. I get you are upset with the team (who isnt) but you acting like Kirk and TT being out isnt a problem makes you sound like a moron. And get over the shoe lace thing...the Bulls were so out of that game by then it is laughable to make a big deal out of it. It's like ND pretending they are relevant in college football. You can keep saying it but anyone with an IQ higher than their shoe size knows better. I'd still have liked to see them attack the guy but quit acting like that play had anything to do with anything. Explain what you expect to stop the mediocrity or to show leadership? You sound lie a politician dropping buzz words with nothing tangible behind it. Should someone have fought LBJ or knocked Jack on his ass.....they still would have lost those games. Then what? This team is in dissarray due to a short bench that was already low on talent before the injuries. Either join reality or stop wathcing this team until February. This team is still capable or treading water until TT and Kirk get back and when that happens they can pull off some wins like we saw earlier in the year against SA and CLE. Odds are they end up right around .500 again like last year. Then all your CAPS usage will be for NAUGHT. SAVE YOUR CAPS (and blood pressure) TIL NEXT YEAR IN CASE THEY DONT LAND A FREE AGENT. Then you can be pissed off all year. Currently you sound like a senile old man that is just bitching cuz it's all he can remember how to do.

  • In reply to CN71:

    Are you blind or what?

    Derrick Rose and Luol Deng are the two best players on the Bulls team. One is the franchise player (Rose) and the other is the team captain (Deng). Unless, they start showing more HEART and LEADERSHIP this team is going nowhere.

  • In reply to CN71:

    NEWFLASH:

    For all your NAIVE BULLS' FANS on this blog. The Chicago Bulls didn't lose by 32 points to the Raptors because they didn't have Hinrich or Thomas. They lost because they lack HEART and LEADERSHIP, especially from Rose and Deng.

    I'm sorry the TRUTH hurts, but it is what it is.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    One, it's gotten really old that you dismiss everyone who doesn't agree with you 100%. Two, it's past old that you pick one thing per month or so and type it repeatedly in all caps. Typing "truth" in capitals doesn't make you correct.

    I find it naive of you to keep shouting about heart and leadership, as if that is going to fix this team. It's a multi-faceted problem right now. I see a lot of other people on the board trying to discuss this with some detail. You do them a huge disservice to start up with the name calling again.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    Regarding the injury situation I think it is reasonably forseeable that a team would have two rotation guys out at the same time, with others suffering minor injuries also. I think Vinnie had it right when he said he didn't have enough "bodies."

    I didn't fool myself thinking that Byers was a great player but he was a very good college player who brought length to the backline along with a decent shooting touch. When he was cut by the Bulls I knew that was going to bite them. We can debate coaching strategy until the cows come home. But if you don't have the talent and the bodies to execute you are going to lose in the NBA. What's my point? Gar/Pax/Reinsdorf, though not totally dysfunctional, are clearly and demonstratively mediocre as a management team. The product of their efforts is clear for all to see.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    i love this team and i will be a bulls fan from birth to death..but honestly doug..we have a star and we need to treat him like one...our best lineup last year was rose,gordon,salmons,noah,and miller..
    because we had space for rose to take over and others to space the court for each other...

    i honestly feel joakim noah is having his best year only because we're missing so much..hes playing better i give him that..but when your our center weight less than michael beasley or even quentin richardson..then there is a problem..we love to say length..but muscle gets you boards..muscle and heart plays tough defense..our front line always was thin..why draft taj when hes just as skinny as tyrus and noah..i say blow it up..and get a center who can score,rebound,and clog the paint while his value is really good but not like hows its going to be(lopez) and run james at the 4(potentially gifted) and get 3 point shooters who play tough defense and can go out and run..like pietrus,lee and etc..lets go bulls! =) make your greatest fan proud lol.. ;)

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    That's correct. Loul has showed in recent years that he is a pussy...No heart at all. I am still waiting for the character thing to come up. And he is not a good example for Rose. Being a nice guy as nothing to do with leadership. Loul makes me sick each time he stops playing hard...

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    What the Bulls right need now more than anything is a bunch of home games against bad teams, a stretch of games against the league's elite, and games against teams that are suffering from injuries just like they are.

    The Bulls have games against the Nets and Warriors that they should win at home. But on the flip side, they have games against the Lakers and Celtics coming up as well. I say great because they probably wasn't going to beat that caliber of team even if they were at full strength. The only thing the Bulls need now is for one of the Hawks regular players to sprain a ankle or something. Sure, it's bad to hope the other team gets hurt, but they make a tough team easier to beat. Just think of the teams the Bulls will be fighting for the last few playoff spot with that will play two games against Portland without Oden. The Bulls already played one game against the Blazers and got dominated inside.

    In a situation where every win is going to count, wins against depleted teams really count for something. So, please Joe Johnson and Josh Smith don't break anything, but a nagging injury that keeps you out of one or both games against us would be greatly appreciated.

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    no doug our team didnt play great defense..those teams just didnt expect us to play hard in that area..

    everyone knows this offense is horrid..they stil havent put a team around rose because neither deng or noah fits rose ability..we dont have to go gold in 2010 to win..as far as i know...

    lebron,wade,bosh,johnson,boozer,stoudemire,and nowitzki only have one ring and its funny how boozer,johnson and nowitzki are going to be or about to be 30 when thy want their contracts..

    wade will be 28 and has a injury bug in his career..if we get him then our team has to be ready to win now..not the future..but we dont have that team..and why would they make moves after getting the player when they should have the team ready incase...

  • In reply to MrHappy:

    this bulls organiztion isnt as good as people give them credit..we know how to draft but we make terrible trades,contract signings and personal moves...at the end of the day..derrick rose is as good as advertised..we cant expect him to score 30 night in night out..not because of his age..but because his team has one 3 point shooter one the roster...derrick rose didnt so called figure out defenses last year..no the court was spaced out becuase deng was no longer taking up rose drives by cutting to the rim so much...john had a three point shot..ben gordon had a three point shot..brad miller had a threat of a three point shot...

    now we have ..
    rose(drives)
    salmons(now says threes arent his style)
    deng(drives or launches up some stupid midrange and hopes its 06)
    gibson(midrange)
    noah(garbage man)

    how can we expect to build around derrick or help this kid..
    if we dont even push the ball or have spacing for half court sets..

  • I'll take that as well.

  • The point was you should stop writing or making excuses about injuries and start writing about the lack of heart and leadership on this team, especially coming from Derrick Rose and Luol Deng.

  • The problem is that there are times out there Chicago just gives up on the court and doesn't try. This is where it doesn't matter how outmatched you are, you can still go out there and give a good effort. A tough coach would make a team responsible for their actions by making them work harder in practices since they didn't want to work hard in the games.

  • "On offense the Bulls need to ramp up the pace. They're presently playing one of the slowest paces in the league, and if they were defending and rebounding at a high level that might be okay." I was really surprised to read that, specially after hearing the directives of the coach to our point guards "Run, Attack, etc". I expected something different to be honest. Doug, do you think this has to do with poor coaching? I find it hard to believe that with athletic big men and Rose this team is not playing transition basketball. So far, in the games I watched, I've seen Hinrich trying to push the tempo on some occasions but those are not enough.

  • wait lol i meant we give them too much credit..sorry dougy =)

  • Doug-

    I think we discussed this earlier in the season and I agree with you. This team HAS to run...this is how they were successful against teams earlier this season...run them out of the gym and outwork them on the glass...that is the ONLY chance we have at winning games. Somewhere during this season, they started to play half court games...we will get slaughtered consistently if they do that.

  • Hey Doug...

    I am by no means a basketball genius, but wouldn't it make sense for the Bulls to at least try to mix things up on the defensive end. I listen to the games on the radio mostly, so my question is... Have they tried using the zone to stop the bleeding during their massacres? Are they consistently running the same thing throughout the game? On both offense and defense?

    I suppose the larger question is whether or not the coaching staff has the savvy to make in game adjustments or even game to game adjustments. Possibly this is why the players are so frustrated and tend to give up. They need to be inspired with a new strategy.

    It's almost as if they are being beat at a game of RockPaperScissors and the coachs keep telling them "Always go with ROCK! Nothing beats ROCK!"

  • I'm not mistaking heart and leadership with talent. Rose and Deng have loads of talent, but they lack HEART and LEADERSHIP. Those two guys are the most talented players on the Bulls' roster. Their development as players and leaders will define the success of this team. They need to show more HEART and LEADERSHIP, on and off the court.

  • umm have you ever thought why lebron,kobe, wade, pierce and other great perimeter players were surround by shooters since day one..they shine because of the high % shots and getting to the line..the so called superstar treatment..and yeah pressure is on them but they make plays with space..they attack the rim and get the call because its a one on one.so who cant see the contact..rose def. needs to be vocal to get it..but his numbers and potiential soared after the trade..with miller and salmons instead of thomas and deng..its not about being the top three point shooting team but every great player and team doesnt play w one solid 3 point shooter in the starting 5..open the game up..rose isnt goina wake up one day and make all his jumpers and layups..i never said that..but if we miss ben gordon its not because of his scoring..its because of his ability to spread it..rose will be..mark it down..he will be an allstar..we shouldnt rely on d.wade and the class of 2010 players when they havent even won and are mostly old when their contracts kick in..give derrick a chance..we all know his potiential...yes we need more than one star..but my point is the road to superstar starts somewhere..its not because of your yourself..because rose has talents..we need to get the most of it..put a team to fit him..and i promise doug...everyone will feel bad by not saying pooh can be are now and not just our future..

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