Truly Offensive

Now that the personnel-acquisition phase of the summer is nearly complete, I’m getting excited to see what Coach Thibideaux will do with players the front office has assembled.  One thing I always appreciated about Doc Rivers Boston teams has been the way they play offense-instead of hewing to a single orthodox philosophy, they tend to mix and match, based on personnel.

That said, here are three teams I expect Thib’s Bulls to borrow from.

1: The San Antonio Spurs

San Antonio’s drive and kick scheme can serve as a pretty nice model for the Bulls.  Every team in the NBA would love to play like the Spurs, but few teams have the personnel to make it work.  Like Tony Parker, Derrick is an attacking guard with a good midrange game, and Boozer is a power forward who sets great picks, has a high basketball IQ, passes and can score from many spots on the floor (check out Boozer is an above average shooter, as a PF, from every part of the floor inside the three point line).

The Bulls lack a Ginobili, and the overall level of three point shooting that the Spurs surround their big guns with, but especially Kyle Korver is on to spread the floor, and in the fourth when the game is tight, expect a lot of drive and kick with the Bulls’s two best  offensive players dictating the action.

2: The Utah Jazz

With so many ex-Jazzmen on the roster, this is a no-brainer.  For a great primer on Utah’s flex offense, read this great piece by Kevin Arnovitz.  If the Bulls open up with a Rose/Brewer/Deng/Boozer/Noah starting lineup, starting the game off in the flex makes sense.  The flex calls on the point guard to be a maestro, and set up opportunities for others.  Driving the ball is a weapon the PG has, but not the main engine of the offense-the focus is on all 5 players moving and working as a unit.  That suits the starting lineup, which has a lot of good, smart team players but lacks long range spotup shooting.

Starting in flex with Brewer, Rose defaults to more of a playmaker/outside shooter, which is how he is going to open game anyway, given his unselfish nature.  In essence, when Brewer is on the floor, Rose will let Ronnie attack the basket in his stead.

The flex is sometimes less effective in late game situations where the game slows down and players tend to pass less by nature.  That’s when I expect Rose to “beast” it in iso or a two man pick and roll in the San Antonio-style offense.

3: The Phoenix Suns (with Boris Diaw)

In many ways, I feel Joakim Noah is the biggest offensive wildcard of the coming season.  He’s a tremendously unique big man who doesn’t have a great outside shot but is comfortable handling the ball, making passes, and attacking off the dribble.  He is much more than a glorified garbage man, though he excels in that role, and will always play it.  Thibideaux should look at the ways Phoenix utilized Diaw’s passing skills and try to incorporate some those sets for Noah.

I noticed last season that when Noah got a touch on offense, that generally meant the ball was moving, often side to side, and the offense was generating good looks.  When Noah was outside the play, that often resulted in an iso possession.  If Thibs can harness Noah’s skillset, it could make for some unorthodox, but effective sets:  I could see Noah pulling out opposing centers in some modified Dribble Drive Motion sets, for example, especially if his jumper continues to improve.

Overall, I think the defense is going to be elite, and the offense has the potential to be exciting, but probably not special.  If this team is going to be a championship contender, it’s probably going to come from the defense first.  As far as efficiency rankings, the 2003-2004 Detroit Pistons give some hope:   they were second overall in defensive efficiency, but 18th for offense.  If the Bulls can be top 4 in defense, and 15th or better on offense, it’s going to be fine season: if they are top 10 on offense, like Boston was in 2008, they could make it to the Finals.

As the roster currently stands, there is a dearth of three point shooting that needs to be remedied, but the Bulls should have enough firepower to win the Central Division, especially if Derrick and Joakim continue to make strides.


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  • I think with this team success will come on the defensive end and rebounding, not giving teams second chance shots. If they can be in the top 5 or 10 in scoring I agree the Bulls will have a very successful season. One more scoring threat and another big man wont hurt either.

  • Actually I think Redick could've played either offense well. His spotup shooting is a given, and even though he's undersized, he's scrappy and knows how to run a set offensive from his time at Duke. I think if we would've gotten him, he would've played a lot like Hornacek did for those old Jazz teams, though Hornacek was a better passer.

    I think most NBA teams run sets from a lot of different places. The flex is more of a superset in that regard. If you haven't read Kevin A's article yet, do it, it's really good.

    Drive and kick is a pretty basic set offence, so I'd like to think the Bulls could put the flex in on top of that, especially with Booz, Korver, and Brewer already familiar with it from Utah.

  • I don't think Redick would've made that much of a difference but he definitely would have contributed as far as scoring in mostly spot up opportunities and kick outs. I don't think it will be a problem in learning a inside outside type of game and yes it will mostly depend on the team that they are playing and it's personnel and style of play.

  • And I do think that Brewer will be used mostly for his defense, unless he has improved on his scoring efficiency. He is a big shooting guard, something that the Bulls haven't had in a while which will really help on the defensive end.

  • I think it all depends on the defensive scheme that Thibs have them playing and if the players are willing to go all in on playing total team defense. If the Bulls can concentrate on playing tight D and rebound on both ends of the floor, then they will have a good year.


    How FLEX-able are the Bulls?

    We are going to find out this year. That's the offense I expect to see.

  • We are putting a lot of faith in Thibodeau. Will he improve our offense, improve our defense, improve Rose, Noah, JJ? I see many posts on Thibs being able to fix almost any basketball related problems...
    He might be a good coach but there is a chance of a lethal combination of no chemistry and first time coach issues for a while.
    But if Rose can come to Deron Williams's level and Noah/Gibson show normal improvement and with the Jazz players, we might be a little better than the Jazz of last year.

  • That's the consoling part for the Bulls. If Rose, Noah, Deng, Gibson could function to go to the playoffs with all those trades, VDN screwing up time-outs, calling plays and fighting with Paxson...they should be better with Thibs. But, one thing which we know Vinny was good at was maintaining an even-keel outlook during and after the game helped the young guys to focus on what they have to do. Hopefully, Thibs can keep the same.

  • Boozer is quicker but gives up a lot of height compared to Miller. And Miller could bang and play physical with the big guys(Shaq, Perkins types) and keep them honest on defense.
    How will Boozer do one-on-one against Bosh,Gasol,Amare, Garnett. If he needs help to defend any one of them, the Bulls get killed against those teams.

  • As long as Noah is healthy we have a shot.

  • It seems somewhat obvious to me that TT should be able to create a good/great offensive system.

    In order to be a defensive guru, you have to understand everything about the offenses that you are shutting down.

    I expect that TT will have a massive influence on every aspect of the Bulls this season, he may indeed be their MVP.

    After Vinny last season, this will be like going from Junior High to Grad School for the Bulls players.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I hope you're right. But I keep thinking about Mike Brown, who made Cleveland one of the best NBA defensive teams but employed a very unimaginative offensive scheme that worked during the regular season but was exposed in the playoffs. Maybe it was personnel, maybe it wasn't. But if Thibs is anywhere near as good an offensive coach as he is a defensive coach, the Bulls will be in really good shape.

  • The Bulls are *much* more talented this year. On paper, the parts seem to fit well. Boozer is decent post-up player, but can also work on the fringes, allowing Noah to thrive around the basket. Brewer is a big, athletic SG who can finish around the rim with a good PG feeding him the ball. Deng's mid range game is still one of the best around.

    What we're all waiting to see is how good Rose will be this year. If the way he finished last year is any guide, he's going to be a monster.

    Gibson, Korver, Watson, Thomas & Bogans off the bench is a big improvement over last year. I expect Thibs to bring the same even keeled approach that VDN had, with a better handle on game management. I think the description as 'a little better than the Jazz of last year' is pretty accurate, which puts them in the top 4 of the Eastern Conference.

    I think the Heat have a lot more to worry about in terms of making the parts work together. The Celtics will be formidable, but the age factor is there. The Magic will be pretty much the same team as last year.

  • In reply to notfol:

    Agree with all except one thing, screw Deng's midrange game. Last year the Bulls attempted 1066 3-pointers. The current roster attempted 671. I don't care if Deng shoots 17% from the arc, he needs to shoot the 3.

  • In reply to Redwhitenblack:

    Fortunately Thibs seems to be focused on that and Rose is trying to improve his own shooting. Thibs is said to be a workaholic so he will create schemes to get open shots for Deng in the corner. Can't wait for the season!

  • In reply to notfol:

    I'm real excited to see how Ronny does as a finisher at the rim. That was a huge missing piece in the Hinrich/Gordon days. They will have to be able to knock down the long range shot to spread the floor for those cuts and lobs, though.

  • They could be an elite defense. They were good the last couple of years. You've said that Brewer is a better defender than Hinrich & I agree. He's a little bigger & a little quicker, with the same drive & discipline. Boozer will probably not be much better for Thibs than he was for Jerry Sloan.

    Rose will be better. If he gets a lot better, the Bulls become a very frustrating team to play, because of decent to good perimeter defense backed up by the interior presence of Noah... and hopefully spot moments from Asik.

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