Tag Archives: Fred Hoiberg

BULLet Points: Pacers dominate Bulls to end circus trip

  • The Bulls got off to a quick start, but Indiana adjusted fast and took control of the game, ultimately winning 104-92. The Bulls never really made it that interesting.
  • Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose each had forgettable nights, with Rose in particular continuing to struggle badly. He was 4/16 from the field for 10 points with six rebounds and five assists. He’s now shooting 36.3% this season and 21.4% from long range. Rose has converted only 44.7% within three feet and 30% from 3-10 feet out. Hopefully a lot of issues are coming from the mask and vision problems, but this version of Rose is not a starting point guard in the NBA. The Bulls need a turnaround fast.
  • Butler finished with 16 points, five rebounds and five dimes but he struggled to make an impact for long stretches of the game. Paul George–back and better than ever–mostly had his way against Butler, finishing with 33 points and eight boards. After the game, Jimmy acknowledged that he’s playing through a lower leg injury of unknown severity. It’s extremely discouraging that the Bulls are apparently mishandling injuries once again, seeing as Butler is currently third in the NBA in minutes per game. #Pray4Jimmy
  • Pau Gasol could not handle Indiana’s new smallball identity. The Pacers started CJ Miles and Paul George at the forward spots and operate with tons of floor space due to the amount of shooting around the perimeter. Gasol was constantly too slow to hit his rotations and overwhelmed offensively, finishing 4/16 from the field. His offensive effectiveness is dwindling while the NBA’s move toward small lineups and flexibility makes Gasol even more of a liability some nights. The Bulls need to bring him off the bench, where he can regain some efficiency by taking on reserve bigs in the post.

  • Niko Mirotic was the best player for Chicago and his potential is really magnified against teams that like to play small. With Paul George guarding Butler, CJ Miles was forced to match up with Mirotic. Niko constantly kept Miles off guard with his unique blend of quick shots, pump fakes, and goofy drives that somehow often end in free throws. Mirotic has had major struggles with his shot and consistency this season, but the Bulls can only be their best when his skills are emphasized. Hoiberg needs to be more aggressive about keeping Niko on the floor when other teams try to win by going small. He finished with 25 points and seven boards in 29 minutes and a plus/minus of -4. The Bulls were -8 in the 19 minutes he sat.
  • Kirk Hinrich continued to play pretty well, adding 11 points and two assists off the bench in 22 minutes. The Bulls were +4 in his minutes and sadly may be a better team with him at point guard over Rose at the moment.
  • CJ Miles went nuts in the first half with 16 points but was shut down afterward. He’s had a nice stretch playing next to George in Indiana’s small system. Lavoy Allen added 12 and 10 off the bench as the Bulls bigs were simply too slow to keep up with his activity. None of the Chicago frontcourt is playing good defense right now.
  • Indiana may have stumbled onto something pretty solid with their new identity. They’ve won 10 of 12 and Paul George looks every bit as good, if not better, as he did in 2013-14. Much ado was made about George being hesitant to bang with big men as a power forward, but Indiana has smartly used him as both a wing and a big. He’s too good of a perimeter defender to abandon that ability, as the Bulls saw firsthand with George guarding Jimmy.
  • Coming up: the Bulls return home to take on the surging San Antonio Spurs.

Quick Bulls Thought: McDerrrrggghhhhmott

With just 10% of the NBA season in the rear view mirror, we are all still audience members at small sample size theater. The grind of an 82 game season tends to level off extreme performances both good and bad. But through eight games, the impact of Doug McDermott has been bad enough that it deserves some early season attention.

Judging McDermott only by his box score statistics does not capture the detriment that his presence on the court brings. The second year man from Creighton has actually been very good based solely on basketball’s most primitive data. In 21 minutes per game (up from an average of eight minutes in just 36 games played last year) McDermott is averaging 11.1 points and is shooting 53% from the field and 57.6% from three.  Those shooting splits are very impressive and fall in line with what Bulls fans expected when the team moved up to draft the sharpshooter. He’ll inevitably regress from this fantastic rate, but even a decent sized decline will still have him among the league leaders in shooting percentage. After a disastrous rookie season, McDermott is clearly playing with a new sense of confidence and is taking advantage of the sets coach Hoiberg has designed for him.

Doug McDermott appears to be an efficient role player on the surface, but digging any deeper into the numbers paints a much different picture. When McDermott is in the game, according to NBA.com,  the Bulls net rating is -15.8, by far the lowest of any player to appear in more than five minutes worth of action. The Bull with the second lowest on court net rating is the -3.3 owned by Pau Gasol (an issue for another day).  When McDermott is out of the game, the Bulls net rating skyrockets to +15.6, the highest net rating of any off court Bull by 4.5 points.

The Bulls crater on the defensive end with Doug in the game. Overall this season, the Bulls are sixth in the NBA in defensive rating, holding opponents to an impressive 96.1 points per 100 possessions. With McDermott on the court, the Bulls are giving up 105.5 points per 100 possessions. Doug thus far has looked totally lost executing any sort of defensive scheme on defense. Check out Ricky O’Donnell’s great breakdown of the myriad ways Doug has struggled guarding players in any and all scenarios.

The Bulls have been a below average rebounding team this season, grabbing just 48.7% of missed shots, 19th best in the league. With Doug McDermott on the court, the Bulls rebound rate drops to 46.6%, tied for 29th with the banged up Pelicans. McDermott is doing nothing to generate stops, and he’s not helping finish off possessions when his teammates force the opposition into a difficult shot.

The issue with Doug’s performance does not seem to be a product of Hoiberg sticking him in bad lineup combinations. He’s played 96 minutes with both Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah and the team’s net rating in those pairings is -17.5 and -19.6, respectively. In 85 minutes on the court with Taj Gibson, the Bulls are -29. The big he’s played “best” with is also the one he’s played with the least. In the 73 minutes Mirotic and McDermott have played together, the Bulls are only -7.2. The presence of Doug alongside Noah and Taj at the same time does nothing to improve their defensive rating, and when on the court with Gasol and Mirotic, the offense somehow only manages to score 88.7 points per 100 possessions.

The craziest thing about McDermott is that, despite the unsustainable hot shooting streak he’s been on to start the year, the Bulls have been the worst offense in the league with him on the court. An 89.9 offensive rating for a player who’s supposed to juice the offense is the trend that troubles me more than the bad defense. It’s the third lowest number of any player averaging twenty or more minutes a game (Jahlil Okafor and Matt Barnes are the only two players below him).

This will be something I pay very close attention to in upcoming games. In theory, having a player like McDermott forces the defense to commit a man to chasing him all over the court. Whether or not McDermott finds the ball in his hands, it should effectively create four-on-four opportunities for his teammates. This is the Kyle Korver effect, and Atlanta uses the attention the former Bull draws to create open driving lanes to the basket and find cutters moving without the ball. Why have the Bulls not been able to create offense using similar principles?

Hoiberg is still firmly in the experimentation stage with this team and I believe he will find creative ways to make the offense flow around McDermott. But it’s something to keep a close eye on.

 

BULLet Points: Bulls get a little revenge against Hornets

“Revenge is a dish best served cold.” – Klingon Proverb

The Bulls didn’t exactly get the “you stomped us, we’ll stomp you” flavor of revenge they were hoping for, but they did get the win, 102-97. They entered tonight with a 5-3 record, besting the Cavs and the Thunder, but losing to lesser teams in the Pistons, Timberwolves, and Hornets. They were out rebounded 52-33 in their last contest against Charlotte, and they had another crack at them tonight:

  • The Bulls were active on the glass this time, determined not to get beat on the boards again, winning that battle 57-45. Joakim was a huge contributor to this, posting 18 rebounds and six assists in the most active game he’s had all year. He’s the first player with 16 plus boards and six plus assists off the bench since Dennis Rodman for the Spurs in December 1994; it was fitting that he had the final rebound of the game on Charlotte’s last shot. His energy was great and the knee doesn’t seem to be bothering him. His offensive activity both with and without the ball was enough to make me a believer that he’s going to cause defenses some problems this year, which is a great sign going forward.
  • Pau was a big factor too, adding 13 rebounds to complement his 19 points in a very productive game, posting his third double-double in the last four games (and the one miss was a 16 point, nine rebound effort against Philadelphia); however, it should be noted he was -8 for the game, and wasn’t as productive with Niko on the floor, who was -6.
  • Rose had another decent game, again playing more of a facilitating role with 10 points and eight assists (to three turnovers) in 35 minutes. When the floor was spaced with shooters, Rose was able to penetrate and make decisions between finishing, finding a shooter, or hitting the diving big man on the roll. Unfortunately, he still thinks he can make threes for some reason, missing two more tonight. He’s now 1/18 on the season. Here’s his shot chart, just to rub salt in the wound:

Shotchart_1447473640201

  • While we’re on the subject of three-point shooting, the Bulls averaged 25 of them coming into this game, having a streak of 11 straight games with at least seven made threes. That ended tonight, shooting just 4/16 from deep, while the Hornets were 15/33, which is really what kept the game close.
  • Doug McDermott continues to shoot well, 3/6 on field goals and 1/2 from downtown. He’s at 57.1% overall from deep for the season and he moves well without the ball. Here’s what a really great shot chart is supposed to look like (*cough* Derrick take notes *cough* notice how it’s green and not red *cough*):

Shotchart_1447474781181

  • Early on, the Bulls ran most of their offensive sets through Pau Gasol after a series of dribble hand-offs rather than setting the drag screens we’re more accustomed to seeing with Hoiball. This remained to be prominent in their offense throughout the game as they struggled with reversing the ball and not doing a good job of kicking it out on their drives. The Hornets got their hands on too many passes in the second quarter, but the Bulls found more success as the game went on by pushing the ball in transition and being more aggressive on their drives.
  • Jimmy got a little too comfortable settling for isolation fade aways early on in the game, but hit his stride in the third quarter and through the rest of the game, ending with 27 points, five rebounds, and four assists with 11/14 from the line, hitting what was the clinching jump shot in the final seconds of the game. If it weren’t for Jimmy’s short take over, Charlotte might have done more damage, outscoring the bulls 18-0 from three point range in the third quarter.

  • The second unit showed up to play tonight, all posting positive plus minuses (except Aaron Brooks, who was even); E’Twaun Moore was a big boost off the bench, going 5/6 with 11 points and five rebounds in 22 minutes. Taj also played well, with 12 points on 6/10 from the field.
  • Kirk returned from a sore toe on a 10-minute restriction and surprisingly wasn’t terrible; let’s just keep his minutes down. But the most activity around Kirk was in the two minutes he decided to play without his goggles – the Twittersphere went a little nuts:

Kirk 1Kirk 2Kirk 3

  • As for the Hornets: Al Jefferson was a surprising non factor in this game, scoring just six points on 3/9 shooting with only five rebounds. He normally causes the Bulls more issues but wasn’t able to gain any kind of consistency in the post. Nicolas Batum went crazy with 28 points on 10/17, including 5/6 from three (though one was a bank shot that he very clearly did not call bank on). He also had eight rebounds in just under 35 minutes.
  • Jeremy Lin played pretty terrible tonight (-15, four points on 2/7), but he shockingly has a top 10 PER in the league for qualified point guards (Rose isn’t even in the top 50) at 21.09. And by the way, Steph Curry is at a ridiculous 10-game PER of 37.12 with the Westbrook the next closest guy at 29.77. Remember when I talked about WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne’s absurd PER of 32.7 this past year, and Wilt’s all-time single season NBA record of 31.82? Obviously Steph will regress (right?!), but you can see why 37.12 is just flat out nasty. I don’t care if it’s only through 10 games.
  • Up Next: The Bulls host Indiana on Monday; Charlotte hosts the Trail Blazers on Sunday
  • On a more somber note, we try to focus on basketball on a day when the attacks in Paris are heavy on our hearts and our minds. With some of Joakim Noah’s family in Paris, we are even more keenly aware that these attacks strike closer to home than we may think.

BULLet Points: Bulls take care of business in Philly

  • The most exciting part of Monday’s Bulls-76ers matchup was the mystery surrounding who would start in Chicago’s frontcourt. Joakim Noah was announced alongside Pau Gasol, but an apparent tweak to his surgically-repaired left knee had Niko Mirotic on the floor at tip-off. The Bulls managed against a winless 76ers team, winning 111-88.
  • The first half was full of runs by both teams. After a 12-11 start by Philadelphia, Tony Snell checked in and the Bulls went on a huge run. It was fairly predictable, given the on/off court splits of Snell and Doug McDermott thus far:

  • The Sixers fought back to start the second quarter, though, and it took a late Chicago run to notch a 52-43 halftime lead. At one point in the half, Derrick Rose scored on three straight possessions, craftily converting around the basket. He finished with 12 points, seven assists, and five rebounds in 28 minutes, a very solid performance.
  • The Bulls maintained a healthy lead throughout the third quarter and Philly never threatened again. Niko Mirotic caught fire in the second half and tallied 20 points and ten rebounds overall. It was an encouraging night after three straight duds from the young power forward. Most importantly, Mirotic found his groove once again from distance, knocking down three of seven. It remains to be seen if Fred Hoiberg inserts Joakim Noah into the starting lineup when he’s available again.
  • Jimmy Butler had a quiet scoring night with just seven points, and none after halftime. He still contributed across the board, though, adding six rebounds, five assists and a team high +29 in only 26 minutes.
  • Doug McDermott continues to shoot lights out. He knocked down seven of 15 shots for 18 points in 28 minutes in his third straight start. While McBuckets has actually been worthy of his nickname this season, he is still completely lost on the defensive end. Even today, the Bulls only outscored Philadelphia by five points in his minutes; the other four starters were between +14 and +29, with Tony Snell at +18 off the bench.
  • Pau Gasol had a very nice game, posting 16 points, nine rebounds and six blocks. He had his way with rookie Jahlil Okafor for most of the night on both ends. Still, there were plenty of possessions where Gasol was a statue under the basket. His defense has nearly completely eroded outside of one-on-one matchups; the Bulls need to figure out what to do with the future Hall of Famer.
  • Bobby Portis saw his first (scant) rotation minutes of the season with Noah out. He failed to make much of an impact and was yanked amidst a fervent 76ers run in the second quarter.
  • The 76ers are easily the least talented team in the league, but they play admirably hard under third-year coach Brett Brown. The ball is constantly moving on offense, which is pretty impressive given the dearth of NBA-level guards on the roster. Defensively, I thought they did a good job with their positioning to slow down the Bulls. With only nine players available–Nerlens Noel sat out with a wrist injury–they just ran out of gas.
  • Jahlil Okafor had an impressive stat-line with 21 points and 15 rebounds in 31 minutes, but I thought it was fairly empty production. He needed 25 attempts to get there and doesn’t quite have a grasp of good shot selection yet. It’s understandable given Philly’s roster, but Okafor was often overmatched by the Bulls’ underwhelming defense. Still, he also showed some amazingly mature touch and post moves around the basket. I’m confident he’ll be a good shooter eventually too.
  • Coming up: the Bulls get to take most of the week off as they don’t play again until Friday, when they’ll take on Charlotte at the UC. They’ll hope to avenge last week’s embarrassing blowout loss.

BULLet Points: Vintage Rose performance leads to win over Thunder

After getting wrecked by Charlotte on Tuesday night, the Bulls returned to the United Center to host the Oklahoma City Thunder, with both teams entering the night at 3-2.  Given the way Chicago’s defense looked against a paltry Hornets offense on Tuesday, stopping the likes of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook looked to be a difficult task. Surprisingly, Oklahoma City’s offense couldn’t produce enough to overcome an early deficit.

  • In the first half, Chicago capitalized on a poor stretch of shooting from the Thunder to recover from being down 28-25 when the first quarter ended. Jimmy Butler led the Bulls to a 57-50 lead with 21 points at the half. He hit four of his five threes in the game, and he’s drained a scorching 57% of his triples this season.
  • Despite being outscored 23-19 in the third quarter, the Bulls maintained a fairly firm lead even as the game progressed well into the fourth quarter. The Thunder made a late run, but that’s when Derrick Rose finally provided some of the explosiveness he was once known for. It’s been a while since he’s looked as good as he did in the final stretch as he did in this game; Rose made 11/16 shots after missing eight of his first nine. He took charge in a way that he just had not been able to at all so far this season.
  • Rumors that Derrick might be on the way out of Chicago have begun to surface again. Brian Windhorst of ESPN speculated on SportsCenter that the Bulls/Rose breakup has already begun. Whatever you might think, the fact that he’s signed for over $40 million through 2017 will make it a major challenge to move on from him before then.
  • Rose did spend extra time working on his jump shot with Fred Hoiberg prior to Thursday’s game, and his 29 points (12 of which came in the fourth quarter) were critical as he closed out the Thunder. He ended up shooting 12 for 25, so the extra work may have been just what he needed.
  • Thursday’s game provided a glimpse of what the Bulls might be capable of when both Rose and Jimmy Butler are scoring. Butler had 26 points to Rose’s 29. Pau Gasol added a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
  • It was encouraging to see Joakim Noah play as much as he did (a season-high 26 minutes) and contribute seven rebounds and four assists. He stepped up his game for the big stage, and the Bulls were far more successful in his minutes compared to Pau Gasol’s. His role on the team has been in flux so far this year, but in the absence of a strong performance from Nikola Mirotic (just two points and four rebounds), Noah filled in very nicely.
  • Kevin Durant poured in 33 points, but Jimmy Butler made him work for them. Even so, Durant has one of the most effortless-looking jumpers in the NBA. Russell Westbrook struggled late but still put up a 20 point, ten assist, eight rebound line. He wasn’t as active as usual, but the Thunder were playing their fourth game in five nights.
  • After making his debut on Tuesday, Bobby Portis didn’t see any time in Thursday’s game. Granted, it was a close one from start to finish, but I would like to see him get at least a few more minutes on a regular basis. His defense is shaky, but after six games, he has appeared in just one of them. He needs time on the floor.
  • From here, the Bulls will remain at home to face the 2-1 Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday.