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The Bulls Bad Defense and Offense
Today I am going to solve the problem of the Chicago Bulls defensive woes. From all that I have seen this season, the Chicago Bulls biggest issues come from not doing the basics on the defensive side of the ball. For example, they seem to struggle getting back in transition. There are plenty of things a coach can do to help remedy this. I for one would start calling guys who are dogging it in transition out in front of the team. This would most likely increase the accountability factor that all good teams need to have. I also think the offensive end of the ball will take care of itself if good defense is being played. I know that new Bulls coach, Fred Hoiberg, is an offensive mastermind and that special attention is being placed on the offensive side of the ball, but that is totally unneeded when you have the players that he does. These guys are grit, hustle, and most important, defensive minded players. They grew up in the Tom Thibs system that preached defense and transition. Most of Thib's teams went deep in the playoffs because of this. Hoiberg needs to realize that yes, offense is important and wins games, but defense is critical and will win championships. This team is built in a defense first manner, align your team to play defense first.
Losing hustle plays on the defensive end is also something that may be at the root of the Bulls issues. For example, I have seen Pau Gasol and Tony Snell, one all-star and one solid defensive player for the Chicago Bulls, get blown by on defense for simply not hustling back and getting set. This should NEVER happen in the NBA. It is an embarrassment for players at this level to get schooled like that on the defensive end of the ball.
I really do think that the defense is the core problem for the inconsistent play made by the Chicago Bulls this season. Giving up on plays, not putting yourself in the right position, and all around trying to play the game on the offensive end only, is a total miss use of what the roster has. Rose, Butler, Snell, Gasol, Gibson, these 5 could start a game and never be scored on last year or really for the past 4 years. Why is it that they are run through constantly by the opposing teams? As I have alluded to and want to make perfectly clear, it is the miss use of talent and focus being placed on the wrong aspects of the game. Hoiberg needs to realize that if your team is 3-7 in their last 10 games, something is seriously wrong. It's not rocket science. Your team is giving up more points than they are scoring because of the lack of defense. Which takes me to my next point, if our defense is struggling so mightily due to the emphasis on offense, why are we getting outscored by so much and struggling on that end as well?
The offense has been horrible. Do injuries have a play in why it's so bad? Probably so, but that is still no excuse for what we are seeing, especially recently. Gasol and Butler have been the only two consistent players on the offensive end. Why? Because they are the only two that seem to know their personal attributes well enough to put themselves in position to score the ball. Butler can drive, shoot, and facilitate. Scoring for him comes extremely easy when he has help around him. Gasol is the postman for this team. He can score from within 15 feet with ease and with either hand which makes him very dangerous. Why can't we use these two to our advantage then?
To me, to solve this problem, is going back to the basics. Just like with defense, the Bulls are getting to far away from what makes them go, the basics. Derrick Rose should be a 20 point per game scorer right now since he has Butler and Gasol to play off. The double teams go to Butler every game. Derrick Rose should be able to run to the three point line and spot up or get in a driving lane to receive a pass from Butler since he will be open to score the rock. Also, Gasol is one of the best pick and pop players in the league. Derrick Rose should be able to easily score 10 points for him and Gasol should be able to get 10 points himself per game playing a two man game.
Snell and McDermott should also be doing great this year if the two strategies I just mentioned were employed into this team. Those two are spot up shooters. They do not need to do anything else but spot up and shoot the ball. So when Butler or Gasol draws the double team they should be on the three point arc, in the corners, in their stance, ready to catch and shoot the ball. Simple, simple, simple stuff here. The two of them should be combining for 20-25 points a night if they followed the simple model.
Lastly Taj Gibson, Bobby Portis, and Joakim Noah (before he was injured) can be having their own 10 point per game nights easily if the pick and pop or pick and roll were deployed into this team more often and more effectively. Taj can shoot out to 15 feet consistently and is one of the most prolific dunkers at the power forward position. He works in both pop and roll circumstances and can get the team rolling in a hurry. Portis also has a similar skill set to Taj in those regards. However, Portis can space even further out and drill 3 point shots. He reminds me a lot of Robert Horry in terms of that type of play. Noah before his season ending injury should have been a double-double machine playing off Gasol. He should have been getting open and running to the rim when Gasol got doubled or getting Gasol's misses and putting them in every time down the court. It is a total mystery to me why he wasn't.
In conclusion the recipe for a better team is all about putting emphasis on the little things. For defense, getting back in transition, not dogging it, and putting yourself in position to stop the ball is key. For offense, utilizing what you have is key. Running the pick and roll and pick and pop more often, controlling pace of the game, and spotting up is all you have to do to be consistent and outscore other teams. Do these things and make defense the number one priority, Mr. Hoiberg, and our team will be winning once again.