Tag Archives: Chris Paul

Note-A-Bulls: Bulls stumble late in LA as four game win streak comes to a halt

After having the lead most of the game, the Chicago Bulls lost to the Los Angles Clippers 102-95.

For the Clippers, Blake Griffin had 26 points and 13 rebounds, Chris Paul had 19 points and 8 assists, as well as Maurece Speights coming off the bench to score 16, hitting 3 of 4 from three-point range.

For the Bulls, Dwyane Wade had 28 points and 8 rebounds, Jimmy Butler had 22 points and 6 rebounds, while the rest of the team only combined for 43 points.

The Bulls had the advantage early, as they took a 10 point lead into the second quarter, and then a 5 point lead, 52-47 into the half.

JJ Reddick inability to hit from three was a problem all game for the Clippers (1/5), and their offense was really unable to stretch the floor until the fourth quarter.

The third and fourth quarters had the intensity like that of a playoff game. The scoring was even in the third giving the Bulls a 5 point lead going into the 4th.

Maurice Speights scored 11 of 16 points (a season high) in the fourth for the Clippers, including recording a necessary assist with 49 seconds left of an offensive rebound to Jamal Craford for an acrobat layup, sealing the lead for the Clippers.

The Bulls were not able to contain the lead, and lost to the Clippers 102-95.

Notes:

  • The Clippers are still in my opinion the best team in the NBA. For now. After beating the Sacramento Kings and Chicago in close ones on overlapping nights, it seems to be the case. Chris Paul has the highest PER (player efficiency rating) in the league, above 31. As early as it is, he’s a possible MVP canidate. Blake Griffin has scored 20+ points in the last 7 straight games. Their bench is one of the deepest in the league, including Brandon Bass, Raymond Felton, and Austin Rivers Everything is clicking for the Clippers. Is it sustainable? Most likely no. The Warriors will continue to harmonize and soon that 1st seed in the West will be far, far away.
  • As far as the Bulls are concerned, Dwyane Wade had another spectacular night from three point range, 5 from 9. The rest of his teammates only hit 4 other threes on the night. For a team that finds its identity from the three ball, the Bulls need to make more than 9 from 30 from deep to continue to win games. And it all can’t be courtesy of Dwyane Wade.
  • Otherwise, the Bulls continue to dominate people on the glass, something that has been a nice surprise for Chicago fans. Even though they only edged the Clippers 40 to 39 in the rebound battle, they had 3 more offensive rebounds and shocked a team that’s usually a top rebounding presence in Jordan and Griffin. Taj Gibson seems to be in every play, and Lopez’s presence on the offensive boards has been evident, as he had 3 tonight. Heck, even Rajon Rondo joined in the act with 4 offensive boards.
  • Rajon Rondo, however, continues to prove that he is a subpar option at point guard. His porous defense and ways of breaking the flow of their offense is something that needs to change, and fast. Tonight he had the worst plus/minus on the team of -16. Not to mention 3 turnovers. Even though tonight people will look at his stats and say, “Oh, he almost had a triple double” (9/10/8), his inefficiencies go beyond the box score and continue to hurt his team.
  • Up Next: The Bulls play the Lakers Sunday night in Los Angles, a team they have beaten for three consecutive years.

 

 

 

BULLet Points: Clippers embarrass Bulls with huge game from bench

The Bulls hung tough the first 24 minutes against the Los Angeles Clippers and headed into halftime down just four. But leaky defense and turnovers turned the second half into a rout.

  • Doc Rivers has taken a lot of grief for his inability to build a half-decent reserve unit in his tenure as Clippers coach and general manager. That narrative has continued this season as the team’s biggest acquisitions have been either shipped off or glued to the pine. But for one glorious Sunday afternoon, the Clippers bench  carried their team to victory.
  • Jamal Crawford, who until recently had been the last Bull to score 50 points in a game, led all scorers in this game with 26 points in 26 minutes. Crawford was an efficient 11/15 from the field and 2/3 from three. He only attempted two free throws, but both came on back to back and-1 opportunities to blow the game open in the third quarter.
  • The bench accounted for 11 of the Clippers 17 three pointers made. Austin Rivers and Wes Johnson combined to shoot 8/11 from deep on mostly wide open attempts.
  • Derrick Rose was explosive with the ball. His shot chart is packed with attempts in the paint, many of which he finished while absorbing contact. Rose did not attempt a free throw, but that was due to a few blown calls rather than any lack of aggression. Rose finished the game with 20 points, five rebounds and four assists, and his graceful flashes to the hoop were the few enjoyable parts of watching this game.

  • Jimmy Butler was just not feeling it. He managed to score a team high 23 points, but needed 25 shooting possessions to get there. Butler shot 8/22 from the field, missing several of the leaning mid range shots he typically drills home. Butler spent all afternoon trying to shoot himself out of the bad day instead of trying to create scoring chances for his teammates. Jimmy is averaging  4.3 assists per game and lends a hand in 19% of the Bulls baskets when he’s on the court, both career highs. This zero assist outing is an outlier for the two time All-Star.
  • The Bulls played with no energy in the second half. The Clippers hung 69 points on the Bulls the final two quarters. The Bulls perimeter defense was especially poor in this game. Clippers guards sliced past the first line of defense at will, forcing the Bulls into sloppy rotations. Los Angeles played unselfish basketball, knowing that two quick passes after a drive was all it took to find a wide open teammate.
  • The challenge of finding a Mike Dunleavy replacement drags on after E’Twaun Moore struggled Sunday. Moore scored 10 points on 4/7 shooting, but passed on a couple of wide open threes that could have opened up some space for the decrepit offense. Moore was also unable to slow down JJ Redick in this game. Redick was a perfect 4/4 from three and scored 21 points.
  • I love Hubie Brown. At one point he compared Crawford’s ability to use the glass to Sam Jones of the ’60s Celtics. But for some reason, he kept pronouncing Redick “Riddick.” This bothered me immensely.
  • Chris Paul is already the best pick and roll point guard in the NBA, so when the Clippers do quirky things to change the geometry of the play, defenses don’t have a chance. On one play, DeAndre Jordan set a hard pick on Derrick Rose just a few steps inside half court. Paul quickly swerved around the pick, forcing Pau Gasol into an uncomfortable switch. Because the pick happened so far from the basket, Paul put an unusually long distance between him and Gasol, who quickly went into full deer-in-the-headlights mode. The result of the play was predictable.

  • Coming up: the Bulls head to Utah tomorrow night to take on the Jazz.

BULLet Points: Maskless Rose helps lead Bulls to ugly victory over Clippers

  • The Bulls got a much needed victory Thursday night with an 83-80 win over the Clippers at the UC. The game was an ugly, grind-it-out victory for the Bulls as the score would indicate but after a three game losing streak the Bulls will take any W they can get. Leading from the 2nd quarter on, the Bulls hung on by the slimmest of margins after a desperation triple by Chris Paul was off the mark. The Clippers had been 6-1 in their last 7 games before Thursday night.
  • Pau Gasol had a monster game for the Bulls scoring 24 points and grabbing six boards. He was the best player on the court for either side, shooting 10/19 from the floor including 3/3 from deep. Gasol kept the Bulls in it early when it looked like the Clippers might run away with the game, and helped secure the win in the 4th with two of his three triples coming in the final frame. Gasol has been picking it up as of late having scored 22+ three out of his last five games, after not putting up that many points the first 15 games of the season.
  • Additionally, Derrick Rose, while not exactly in MVP form, showed signs of improvement in the second half after the masked-man forgot to grab his protection and went without it. The former MVP scored all of his points after halftime and even showed some elevation on a back-door cut that almost ended in a slam that would have brought the roof down in the UC.
  • Unfortunately, even in a win there were several warning signs from Thursday night’s performance. First, Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose still do not look comfortable on the floor together. Through a quarter of the season the guard pairing still lacks any sort of flow. One always has to dominate the ball and they can not work off of each other. This creates poor spacing which has forced the whole offense to come to a halt at times when these two share the court.
  • Two more trends continued in the game against the Clippers: an uninspired start with the Clippers beating the Bulls badly on the glass and in hustle plays, as well as poor fourth quarter offense that saw a 10 point lead entering the frame vanish within minutes. The Bulls were able to recover thanks to a pair of unexpected treys from Gasol, but the Bulls must find a way to buck this trend of starting the final frame slowly as it is sure to cost them games going forward.
  • Nikola Mirotic has officially lost his touch from deep. The native of Montenegro finished the night 1/5 from distance, which brings his total to 6/26 (23%) over his last five games. If Nikola can’t start knocking down some of these triples, his game will become very limited and it will only further hurt a struggling Bulls offense.
  • The Ugly: At the halfway point of the 3rd quarter Blake Griffin was ejected after being handed a Flagrant 2 for smacking Gibson in the head under the basket. Gibson appeared lucky to escape any injury as the replays showed Griffin winding up before striking Gibson. The loss was obviously a huge blow to the Clips as Griffin was the only Clipper able to consistently create any offense. The forward showcased his versatility with his jumper, post-moves, and driving abilities all on display. Griffin finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds in only 25 minutes before getting tossed.
  • Coming up: The Bulls play host to the New Orleans Pelicans and Chicago native Anthony Davis on Saturday night.

Jimmy Butler and the Pick and Roll

Not sure if you’ve heard, but Derrick Rose tore his meniscus. While I wouldn’t say that I took the news well, I have now moved into the “acceptance” phase of the process and have begun to look ahead at the home stretch and how the Bulls can keep this ship afloat, again.

There was a lot of hot takes as to Rose’s impact (or lack thereof) on the court, as people pointed out very small changes in the Bulls offensive and defensive efficiency when Rose was on or off the court. I don’t want to delve to much into this discussion as we have a new contributor who is going to tackle this question over the weekend. but there is one thing that I want to talk about.

Jimmy Butler has had himself quite the season. After declining an extension from the Bulls this summer, famously betting on himself, Butler has quieted all of his doubters with his spectacular play. Earning his first All-Star nod, Butler is averaging a career high 20.2 points per game with very impressive shooting splits of 46%/35%/84%, per Basketball Reference. Butler is also grabbing 5.9 boards and dishing 3.3 assists per game, both career highs. But there is one particular area of Butler’s game that has taken a dramatic leap this season, and it is something that will hopefully become magnified in the coming weeks and months that Rose takes to rehab his knee.

NBA.com’s recently unveiled partnership with Synergy sports has freed up some fascinating information about specific play types in the league. The most valuable data comes from the information about the NBA’s favorite play: the pick and roll. The pick and roll has become the pet play of nearly every NBA team, and those who run it well have enjoyed great success.

No one has run more pick and rolls than Monta Ellis, who has been the ball handler on 590 recorded plays. The next highest, Damian Lillard, has completed 493 plays as the pick and roll ball handler. Ellis and Lillard average .86 and .87 points per possessions on pick and rolls, respectively. Those averages are both solidly above average, scoring in the 75th percentile per NBA.com.

The most prolific pick and roll ball handler is probably Chris Paul, a true maestro of the half court offense. Paul, who has run the third most pick and rolls in the NBA, scores at least one point on 46.7% of plays that end with him as the P&R ball handler, a mark that puts him in the 91st percentile in the NBA. Paul, who averages about eight of these possessions per game, is the gold standard in this category.

Jimmy Butler, from an efficiency standpoint, does not trail these aforementioned point gods by much. Butler averages .94 points per possession when he handles in the pick and roll, the sixth highest rate of guys who have at least 100 such possessions this season. The only guards ahead of Butler are Paul, James Harden, Steph Curry, and Lou Williams.

James Harden has developed a reputation as a guy who knows how to draw a foul when driving to the basket. His quick first step, incredible strength, and pretty solid acting chops have allowed him to shoot free throws on 20.5% of his pick and roll possessions. That 20.5% is the second highest rate of guys who have 100 such possessions. The league leader? Jimmy Butler, at 23.7%.

Butler isn’t just drawing contact and giving in. He’s converting 2.6% of his pick and roll drives into and-1s, just a tenth of a percentage point behind Harden. To put that number in perspective, Chris Paul, pick and roll Jedi, gets the bucket and the foul on just 0.7% of such plays.

Butler scores for at least one point on 48.1% of pick and rolls, the highest percentage in the league for guys who have 100 attempts.

With the absence of Rose, look for Butler to have a lot more opportunities to handle in the pick and roll. Today, Jimmy averages just three possessions a game in this situation. He runs this play on just 15% of the possessions that he is on the court. In comparison, Ellis, Lillard and Paul all average more than 40%. Rose, who’s pick and roll stats place him in the 47th percentile, ran this play 33% of the time he was on the floor.

While Butler’s impressive efficiency stats could suffer with an increased usage rate, I do not suspect the drop would be significant enough to justify keeping his attempts at their current level. In years past, whenever Rose went down, the Bulls were always faced with the uncomfortable question of who will create from the perimeter now?

For 2015, we have our answer.

Fantasy Hoops Mega Preview

With both my fantasy drafts successfully under the belt, I can finally divulge my secrets without worrying about my leaguemates stealing my tips. Let’s get started.

kd lebron

My Top 10 (standard head-to-head scoring)

  1. Kevin Durant
  2. LeBron James
  3. James Harden
  4. Kevin Love
  5. Chris Paul
  6. Steph Curry
  7. Kyrie Irving
  8. Marc Gasol
  9. Paul George
  10. Derrick Rose

Next in: Carmelo Anthony, Serge Ibaka

Mock Draft

Here’s how it went down in my 12 team league last night:

  1. Kevin Durant- Nothing to see here. Durant’s a stud in every category and somehow gets better every year.
  2. LeBron James- James is as good as it gets; the gap between him and Durant is tiny compared to the rest of the league.
  3. James Harden- Last year’s breakout season was no fluke: Harden is a fantasy stud. Solid choice at 3.
  4. Steph Curry- Our first slight reach, but it’s hard to hate on the pick. Steph was a machine last year, but can he stay healthy once again?
  5. Chris Paul- A perennial top five pick for a reason. No one can touch his combination of steals and assists.
  6. Kevin Love- He struggled last year, but he’s fully healthy again. Expect 70+ double doubles.
  7. Derrick Rose- A surprise as the one Knicks fan in my league took Chicago’s finest. Love the pick, of course.
  8. Kyrie Irving- He’s been a beast since he entered the league, but always seems to be banged up. An 80 game season would be huge for his value.
  9. Paul George- Not sure why ESPN projects PG to score 4.0 more PPG in roughly the same minutes, but he proved last year that he contributes across the board like very few others.
  10. Marc Gasol- The least sexiest name here by far, but his ability to contribute in every category as a center is unmatchable.
  11. Carmelo Anthony- The perfect fantasy player. Reigning scoring champ. Almost a bargain at 11.
  12. Serge Ibaka- His blocks are insanely elite, but he proved last year he can help out in more than a couple categories.
  13. John Wall- A bit of a reach (for me) here, but Wall was unstoppable when he got going last year and him and Beal are a match made in heaven. 20-8-4 is very possible.
  14. Nic Batum- Another jack-of-all-trades guy. If he ever makes “the jump”, he’ll be a first round pick.
  15. Anthony Davis- A big reach for Geo, but it could pay off immensely. The league is prepared for Davis to emerge as a superstar this season.
  16. Deron Williams- First round value if his ankle’s fine. Enough concern lingered that Ty-Ty got nice value here.
  17. Al Jefferson- Maybe a reach, especially if his ankle sprain is serious, but Al Jeff will be the go-to guy in Charlotte. Lots of opportunity.
  18. Dwight Howard- A little high because of his abysmal free throw shooting, but if you can handle it, he’s great. Expect a bounce back year from 2012-13’s disappointing (for Dwight) numbers.
  19. Dwyane Wade- Terrific value here. Age concerns scared everyone off, but Wade is a perennial top 10 or 15 finisher on the player rater.
  20. Al Horford- Not sexy, but valuable. I’m excited to see how Al and Millsap play together in the ATL.
  21. LaMarcus Aldridge- He’s primed for a big year as Portland will be pushing for the playoffs. Solid value.
  22. Josh Smith- Another player whose free throw shooting really holds him back. Excellent across the board besides that.
  23. Damian Lillard- His rookie year was no fluke, and after playing the most minutes in the league last year, should have plenty of opportunity to follow up nicely.
  24. Mike Conley- Not a household name, but he’s a low key fantasy stud. Elite steals combined with nice assists and three pointers. Definitely a bit of a reach.

Joakim-Noah-screams

 Jack-of-all-trades

These guys can help you contribute in every category without offering a major weakness outside of maybe one stat. They’re good fits on almost any kind of team. (Not including the obvious LeBron James and Kevin Durant)

  • Marc Gasol
  • Paul George
  • Dwyane Wade
  • Nic Batum
  • Josh Smith
  • Joakim Noah
  • Paul Millsap
  • Andre Iguodala

Value Picks

These are players who, for some reason or another, I think are too low in ESPN’s standard rankings.

  • Derrick Rose
  • Dwyane Wade
  • John Wall
  • Mike Conley
  • Tim Duncan
  • Paul Millsap
  • Pau Gasol
  • Andre Iguodala
  • Russell Westbrook
  • Jonas Valanciunas
  • Nikola Pekovic
  • Chandler Parsons
  • Raymond Felton
  • J.J. Redick
  • Danilo Gallinari

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Detroit Pistons

Sleepers

  1. Andre Drummond- Big minutes, big production. Trust.
  2. Gordon Hayward- Utah’s best kept secret will become a little more well-known this year.
  3. Andrew Bogut- Great team, great fit. Gotta stay healthy.
  4. Kevin Martin- Too undervalued not to go here. #2 option after Love.
  5. Patrick Beverly- A bit of a deep sleeper (comatose?), but he was really good when he got minutes last year. If Houston somehow moves Lin, becomes very valuable.
  6. Russell Westbrook- Not a traditional sleeper, but if you’re in a head-to-head league, you can take him any time after the first couple rounds. This isn’t Derrick Rose last year–Westbrook will be back as fast as humanly possible with a chip on his shoulder. Top seven value as soon as he returns.

Busts

  1. Deron Williams- Should have a fine enough year, but injuries and other stars in town mean he probably won’t be worth the first round pick some will spend on him.
  2. Joakim Noah- I love Jo, but don’t reach for him this year. He hasn’t been close to healthy all preseason and Thibs will ride him hard as long as he’s on the floor this year. Scary stuff for Bulls fans.
  3. Ersan Ilyasova- He very well could end up justifying his ranking, but a bum ankle and history of slow starts is a bad omen. If he struggles out the gate again, your team could be out of contention by the time he’s worth the pick.
  4. Kobe Bryant- I don’t believe he’s near returning nor do I expect to see the same old Kobe. Too many people do. Achilles injuries are FOR REAL and the Lakers aren’t going to be very good.
  5. Steve Nash- Looked awfully pedestrian often times last year and has had a preseason from hell. I’m not high on the Lakers this year, clearly.

That’s all I’ve got for you guys now, but feel free to email me at jweiner13@gmail.com with any more questions you might have.