Will Luol Deng and Jimmy Butler knock down the three?

The Bulls might just be on the cusp of greatness, they’ll need a few things for that to happen, but they aren’t unreasonable things. They’ll need Derrick Rose to prove he’s still a top five player in the NBA, they’ll need overall health of the roster, and they’ll need Jimmy Butler and Luol Deng to knock down open shots.

Derrick’s health has been discussed about as exhaustively as any topic could be, I’m cautiously optimistic that Derrick will not only stay healthy, but that he’ll actually come back improved from where we last saw him play two years ago.

The health of the team is a huge question mark, but Thibodeau didn’t push his guys in two-a-days, gave them a day off, and added planned rest for Rose. It would appear that he’s starting off training camp with an eye on keeping his guys fresh more so than in the past.

If we assume Derrick Rose is back to MVPing other teams with quickness, strength, and scoring instincts, then the double and triple teams will come. Teams will initially look to pack the lane against Chicago and dare anyone to hit outside shots. While the Bulls can bring Dunleavy and Hinrich off the bench to add shooting, the starting lineup has some question marks in that regard.

Jimmy Butler shot excellently in the tail half of last season where he was well over 40% for the second half of the season and 40.5% for the playoffs. He did that without the benefit of Derrick Rose drawing away a significant portion of the defense.

Luol Deng had a rough shooting season, but he faced more coverage than he would in the past and was playing with a fractured thumb that he didn’t disclose. It seems fair to expect his numbers to rise up to the 35-36% range from beyond the arc.

In the end, if I’m a head coach against the Bulls, I still take my chances with Deng and Butler. I hope that Butler was a fluke and Deng has a rough night. It’s better than allowing Derrick to break down the defense for easy hoops or to give room to Boozer/Noah on pick and roll plays when they’re rolling towards the basket.

However, if the wings can knock down their shots, the Bulls have a chance to be one of the best offenses in the league. We’ve focused considerably on the lack of a secondary shot creator and inconsistent scoring, but what the Bulls do bring to the table this season is five guys in the starting lineup who are two way players.

No longer is there Keith Bogans who was too scared to put up a shot. No longer is there Ronnie Brewer, who was dangerous defensively and occasionally could knock down a shot or cut, but could largely be left alone on the perimeter. No longer is there Rip Hamilton who gave the Bulls some scoring but could never stay on the court and ultimately used a crapload of possessions to get his points.

Derrick Rose is still the engine of the team, they’ll need a powerful engine to win the race, but they won’t be driving with three good tires and a flat. Butler and Deng can both score, and this alone considerably improves the offense. If they can prove that they can consistently score from the outside the Bulls go from improved to deadly.


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  • Rose Deng Butler Dunleavy Hinrich and sometimes Snell, it will definitely take all of these guys to improve the Bulls 3 point shooting and a bit off topic, Mirotic says that he will get to the NBA one day and that his love and priority as of now lies with his Real Madrid team. This guy imo sounds like a joke as far as coming to the NBA and is in no hurry to get to a real professional basketball league.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    Mirotic comment can be found on hoopshype.com

  • In reply to Reese1:

    So you're knocking the guy because he's focused on playing for the team he's currently under contract for and paying him...got it.

    Euroleague is a tier below the NBA, but it's definitely a "real" professional bball league. Besides, he's got a large buyout that this org will probably not be willing to pay for until 2014 at the earliest.

  • In reply to JPesos1230:

    Yes im knocking the guy because of his comment be made and his nonchalant attitude he always seem to have when talking about the NBA and joining the Bulls...so it's good that you get it. I wont get into comparing the euro league to the NBA cause there's no argument that the NBA is better. Next year better be the year that Mirotic does come to the Bulls or im sure a lot more Bulls fans will be knocking the guy as well.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    He's also made comments about he loves Chicago and can't wait to go to the NBA and that's a dream for him.

    Mirotic will either come over this summer or the summer afterwards likely depending on what we do with Boozer.

  • Are you saying Carlos Boozer is a "two way player?" That will be news to Thibs who yanks Boozer in the fourth quarter for defensive purposes.

  • In reply to hgarbell:

    Haha, my bad, I got overly excited about having a two way shooting guard that I developed a blinder to Boozer's defense for a moment.

  • According to reports, Rose is a better shooter now than pre-injury. Butler should continue to improve in shooting. Dunleavy is an upgrade, and Snell can shoot. And all of these can defend at least some.

    So, the Bulls need a decent backup big. Maybe that will be Pittman or Thomas. They also need Taj to play up to his contract.

    We will soon see.

  • In reply to rustyw:


    You and I are of the same mind on the Noah OUT-WHO REPLACES Front!

    1--Got to get good competition from Nazr and Pittman.

    2--I have been saying Taj took a step back last year when Everyone expected him to step forward. Push Booz for more of his minutes..,maybe to the bench. Didn't happen..,not even close.

    Was it an injury, the new Big Contract..,or Both.

    Whatever the reason, he's got to step up(big time).

    ****Please don't use him against a big, true center because he has failed there, he will fail there again and his Confidence will DROP.


  • Doug,

    Five two-way players in the starting line-up? Is that a typo? The only way Boozer is a two-way player is if one who calls out "help" on every opponent possession is considered a defender.

  • Boozer plays defense in two ways - slim and none.

  • In reply to UnstopaBull:

    or spectator and escort, or matador and doormat

  • This is one of the major concerns with the Bulls. Last year the Bulls were 20th ranked in the league when it came to 3s at 35%..........You can largely thank Nate Robinson for that number since most the other shooters stunk from deep. I do feel Butler and Deng can be decent at 35% and Dunleavy should be an upgrade or more consistent compared to Belinelli. Just don't like the idea of losing Nate Robinson(perfect bench scorer) shot 40% from the 3. I'm hoping the Bulls can be in the top 10 since the Miami success has largely been with the 3pt spot shooters to space the floor for James and Wade.

  • Mirotic comments are of no concern. They can be found in the first chapter of PR 101...when asked what you think about playing for a different team than the one that's currently paying you, you should say, "I'm just focused on [my current team] right now and doing what's best for [my current team]. [My current team] is where my mind is at right now. I have no idea what the future might hold."

    Re: Boozer as two-way player...maybe not, but he's no Bogans, or Rip, Brewer. It's *possible* for Boozer to put up 20/10 and hold his own on defense more or less. I'd rather have Boozer giving up a few hoops while still being an offensive threat, scoring and setting screens for Butler/Deng in the 25 minutes he plays. To me Taj is the real question mark at that position.

  • In reply to bfranke:

    If by holding his own you mean giving up 40 & 20 then yea, I guess that it is possible for him to hold his own on defense.

    I don't know why that on those rare occasions when the Hole puts up a decent game on offense everyone feels the need to suddenly suggest that he isn't that bad on defense. Regardless of what he does on the offensive end( almost always overrated by the way) he is always a complete disaster on the defensive end save for the occasional broken clock moment.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Be fair, Boozer might give up 40, but he still rebounds well, it'd be more like 40 and 8.

  • I think that we are all optimistic that Butler can continue to improve his 3 point shooting along with his overall game. Butlers play alone should make this the best starting five of the Rose era, both defensively(despite the presence of the Hole) and offensively

    I see no reason to expect Deng to improve his shooting or overall game since both have been in decline for 6-7 years. He is a best a bad streak shooter, i.e. he teases you with a quarter or maybe even a game where he shoots lights out, and then disappoints for games on end. I'd be thrilled if he just got his overall FG% back up to 48% instead of the 41-42% he shot the past 2 seasons.

    I don't know if I am just drinking the preseason koolaide, but like you I have a sense that Rose will come back a better overall player(assuming that his knee is healthy). Best case scenario is that he becomes a 38-40% 3 point shooter which would really open up the offense for him and everybody else. I'm hoping that he can get his overall shooting percentage back up to the 48% that he shot in his first 2 seasons(when he supposedly didn't have a jump shot). Maybe he can even join the trend of great players who have been putting up career high shooting percentages the past couple of seasons and break 50% from the field.

    I trust that Dunleavy as a veteran will perform as expected and maybe even surprise to the upside. As for Snell, I think that we are jumping the gun on extolling his virtues as a shooter/3 point shooter. As I've pointed out before he shot a Luol Deng like 42% last season in college playing in a non major conference. While I want to be optimistic that the guy can be the next Jimmy Butler, I definitely need to see the guy play in the NBA before getting to excited. Given Thibs distrust of rookies, that isn't likely to happen this season.

    As for Doug's 5 two way players comment, on some level I sort know of what he meant to say, but in reality it is pretty much indefensible and almost hilarious in retrospect. Glad that I didn't have to be the first or only one to point that out.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    @Big Way

    Snell needs minutes.., time in the first 3/4 of the season to learn. Make his mistakes, enjoy his good stretches., fill in admirably..,show good resilience and effort. Then, in the last 1/4 of the season, be comfortable in your established role and help up win a few games. Become a Crowd/Thibs favorite like Jimmy did!

  • In reply to rakmessiah:

    Exactly! Lots of rookies, including those drafted lower than Snell, come into the league and play good minutes. Obviously, if they don't play much they simply cannot progress much.

    If Snell shoots well, he could be a key piece to winning in the playoffs. Besides, if Deng or Hinrich goes out with an injury, who takes up the slack? PLAN AHEAd.

  • Late comments from the West Coast, where I'm hoping for a Warriors Bulls Finals, maybe even this year...

    1) Thibs' glue-guy can't be measured in stats alone. The KEY rebounds, blocks, bail-outs, steals... he seems to do it when it matters. Other coaches agree: that's why he is an All-Star. Just keep him healthy and doing his glue things, he'll make the team better. Better shooting would help, sure...
    2) I'm expecting a HUGE improvement from D Rose. Not just statistically - though it's great he had a year of conditioning his body rather than wearing it down. And at this point he has learned a lot about what it needs. But his basketball IQ will have gone up too. After watching a whole season, I'm sure he's learned what he has to do to make his team-mates better... I bet he's gained some emotional perspective too! Fatherhood will do that to you...
    3) Remember how much stronger the Bench gets just by moving Heinrich there. Maybe Taj will claim more minutes - after all, Kurt and Carlos played well together last season. ;)

  • I think the Bulls will shoot the 3 better. It should have been a point of emphasis over the off season for guys like Butler, Deng, Snell, Rose, Hinrich, Teague, and yes, perhaps even Taj says he's focused on it.

    Outside of perhaps Teague, there are no Rondos on this team that are just horrid shooters that will never get better. They all have nice strokes. Butler is evidence that good form + work = results. He may not shoot as well statistically this season, but shooting like that for 3 months is no fluke.

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