Tag Archives: Tony Snell

The New #1 won’t do #2

It appears as if Bulls management is looking to steer into the skid.

In a move that would’ve been been met with intrigue back in 2013 when these two were first drafted, the Bulls shipped Tony Snell to the Milwaukee Bucks for Michael Carter-Williams in a 1-for-1 deal that had both fan bases thinking, “Why not?”

The Bucks are looking to replace Khris Middleton (who is expected to miss six months after hamstring surgery) with the clearance sale version of him in Snell. Meanwhile, the Bulls are continuing to show that the most backward thinking front office has not changed its ways.

I feel safe in saying that not many will feel Snell’s absence when the 2016-2017 season kicks off next week, as he was already lacking any significant playing time, but I struggle to see how this move benefits the Bulls in any way. I’m sure both clubs are thinking a change of scenery will do this duo some good, but nothing in their careers has pointed towards any evidence of this.

MCW’s biggest weakness is his three point shooting. He is a career 25% shooter from the outside and will be a nice complement to the starting point guard Rajon Rondo, a career 29% 3-point shooter.

This comes as no surprise to anyone who has followed this team in the offseason as GarPax continue to assemble the worst shooting team in NBA history while the league moves more and more in the space and pop direction.

Not only does it clog up the court when MCW inhabits it, it also clogs up the guard spot on the Bulls roster. The Bulls currently have four point guards in Rondo, MCW, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Jerian Grant. While Grant will more than likely be cut, Dinwiddie showed flashes that made those who watched feel as though he could be a nice backup PG. He also has shown the potential to shoot the ball when in college at Colorado and is a big body that makes him a competent defender.

However, Bulls fans may never know what he has to offer in the regular season as he is not only stuck at PG behind Rondo and MCW but also at SG where he is behind Wade, Valentine, and more than likely Canaan. Say nothing for Snell, but at least the guy could play multiple positions.

All things considered, I don’t think this move greatly impacts the Bulls one way or the other , it’s just further evidence that GarPax are grasping at straws at this point and hoping to pull out a rose (pun sort of intended).

 

BULLet Points: Bulls stand pat at trade deadline, get smoked by Cavs

The Bulls are simply not a good team right now. They’re missing their best player, Jimmy Butler, as well as the heart of the team and a key defensive contributor in Joakim Noah. Nikola Mirotic somehow had a complication from his appendix surgery (only the Bulls), meaning he won’t be back anytime soon either. With a roster that is clearly flawed at full strength, the Bulls have slipped deep into a dangerous place while trying to fend off the injuries. The rest of this year should be more focused on the future than the present.

While many front offices might look at the factors in play and decide to trade some impending free agents and slip into the lottery, the Bulls…did nothing. Kirk Hinrich was shipped away as a salary dump, a surprising but nonetheless confusing move for Gar Forman. Moving Hinrich amounts to nothing more than a money saver for Jerry Reinsdorf, but it also underlines the Bulls’ clear understanding that they lack a championship roster. There were no major rumblings of win now moves, and the Bulls disappointingly passed on trading Pau Gasol. The latest out of Chicago is that re-signing Gasol is a top priority for the team. Gar is also denying calling this a championship roster in the preseason, so I guess we all just imagined that together! Let’s get to the BULLets before I lose my mind.

  • Derrick Rose was fantastic yet again, continuing his run of highly encouraging play. Rose had 28 points and seven boards in 30 minutes, including 18 at the half that kept the Bulls alive. He only notched two assists, but as Jeff Mangurten points out, the Bulls missed on 12/14 shot attempts off potential Rose assists. Derrick continues to score more efficiently, mixing in lethal step-back jumpers with increasingly effective acrobatic layup attempts. The rest of this lost season should provide a low-pressure environment for Rose to continue getting his groove back. Check out this article by Mika Honkasalo about how Derrick’s bank shots are a massively important addition to his game.
  • E’Twaun Moore received the start alongside Rose again but struggled to match his recent play. Moore scored five points with no assists in only 22 minutes. He was supplanted by Tony Snell, who actually grabbed seven boards and added nine points in 33 minutes of his own. The return of Mike Dunleavy Jr. won’t help Tony find more playing time, but there is undoubtedly a place for him in the rotation if he starts playing better. The Bulls could use a boost like that too, after Snell had very little trade interest around the league.
  • Bobby Portis notched a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. While he still struggles to be an impact player, this is hardly discouraging for a rookie. Rather, we should be excited about his aggressiveness on both ends and commitment to strong positioning and helping on defense. As long as Portis keeps getting minutes and learning on the fly, he should develop into a key rotation player.
  • LeBron James had a typically stellar game, notching 25 points, nine boards, and nine assists. He had plenty of help from his teammates, with Tristan Thompson dominating the boards en route to a double-double. On a more encouraging note, Kyrie Irving was thoroughly outplayed by Derrick Rose.
  • Coming up: the Bulls head home to host the surging Toronto Raptors tonight. They should be fairly heavy underdogs.

Bulls Midseason Breakdown

The Bulls are 24-17, putting us at exactly the midpoint of Chicago’s 2015-16. The (D)Roses and Thorns crew is back once again to go through some of the biggest storylines surrounding the remainder of the season.

In our Quarter Season Breakdown, we took a look at the early returns on Fred Hoiberg‘s new offense, Chicago’s different lineup combinations, the ongoing struggles of Joakim Noah, and the necessity of a freed Bobby Portis.

The offense has actually improved greatly in the second quarter of the season. While Derrick Rose still isn’t distributing the ball to the best of his abilities, his scoring output has been fantastic. In that time, Rose has averaged 18.7 points on 45.9% shooting, massive improvements from his horrid start to the season. Furthermore, Jimmy Butler has continued to blossom into an elite two-way player, pouring in both a 40 point half and 53 point masterpiece while also increasing his assist rate.

Unfortunately, the defense has fallen off after a fantastic start. With Joakim Noah likely done for the season, Fred Hoiberg has no reliable frontcourt combinations when the Bulls need a stop. Taj Gibson is the only plus defender left, and pairing him with Pau Gasol does not fully combat the elder Spaniard’s poor efforts and mobility. Neither Niko Mirotic or Bobby Portis is an impactful defender at this time, meaning the Bulls have no choice but to try and beat opponents with offense now.

As a whole, the Bulls are on pace for 48 wins after a healthily dramatic first half of the season. Joakim’s injury hurts badly, and Mike Dunleavy‘s continued absence has left the Bulls without a reliable small forward. Still, encouraging signs from Derrick Rose and Bobby Portis have left us with some optimism yet. The Bulls probably won’t win the NBA Finals this year, but there’s plenty that makes this team worth watching.

Without further ado, let’s break it down, midseason style.

–Jake Weiner, (D)Roses and Thorns Editor

butler rose fred

Fred Hoiberg’s Report Card: Incomplete — Drew Hackman

If this year feels like a melting pot of players, coaches, styles, and personalities, that’s because it is. And so far, instead of a homogeneous complementary blend of talent, catalyzed by the offensive mind of Fred Hoiberg, it has been a close your eyes and pick a flavor of the night. We were expecting drag screens, fast breaks, a spaced half court, three pointers galore, easy paint points, and a chemistry and ball-sharing of new-age basketball never before seen during the Thibodeau era. It hasn’t quite been that.

The Bulls have shown flashes of picking up Hoiberg’s offense, glimpses of how great they can be, but they’ve also shown an utter lack of focus, communication, and rhythm, sometimes even in the same night, indicative of the discomfort and pains of going through a transition from a coach with the tough-minded, traditional style both in personality and in play of Tom Thibodeau, to the more relaxed and free-flowing Fred.

The Bulls are 24-17 under Hoiberg, which by most metrics would be a pretty respectable mark. It’s too early to tell whether Hoiberg is the right fit for this team, or what kind of coach he is at the NBA level. He comes into a city on the heels of four straight postseason runs with high expectations, this season no different, a fan base clamoring for a shake-up in the methodology and approach, and something new. He was said to bring a new and exciting offense to this team, with the players that could make it work. But what we’ve seen so far is ups and downs, a lot of post-play courtesy of Pau Gasol, and some frustrated players wishing he was more forceful. There have been signs of it (the halftime reaming the Bulls got against the pitiful Sixers), but nothing has taken hold.

This city expects greatness, a championship, heart hustle and muscle, and above all, effort. This team is not doing that right now, but a rookie coach can only do so much. The players need to step up and take ownership. Management needs to give the coach the tools; and the Bulls do not have the tools. Not with Pau Gasol unable to run the floor and Niko Mirotic shooting under 40%, and only two or three guys that can run an effective fast break. This season is not and will not be a failure for Hoiberg – the jury is still out, as are the results of the season. If and when the Bulls lose in the second round of the playoffs, or at best in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Cavs, the Bulls will hopefully re-tool and acquire some talent that fits into this offense. Then we can finally give a more accurate assessment of Hoiberg as an NBA coach.

Getting up for good teams and playing down to their competition has been the motus operandi of this team for at least two years running – a rookie coach can’t change that overnight. The players have to decide to show up with intensity. No amount of yelling or shaming from a coach will fix that.

This season may not matter if you take the long view – we’re hurtling towards either a Warriors-Cavs or Spurs-Cavs Finals. Hoiberg can only do so much with the personnel he has right now. This year is long from over, and there’s plenty of growth and excitement forthcoming, but it’s next year and the year after that have me truly wondering what Fred Hoiberg is capable of, once the front office decides to make some moves.

snell

The Confounding Tony Snell — Jacob Bikshorn

Tony Snell is perplexing. Not perplexing like my inability to understand where magnets come from and how they work. That’s more like being in awe of a natural force. That is not how I would categorize my Tony Snell confusion. What perplexes me about the third year forward is the great disconnect between what I see with my eyes on the basketball court compared to the numbers I read in his statistical profile.

Tony Snell does not grab the attention of the casual viewer. He’s started in 24 of the 39 games he’s appeared in, but is only averaging 22 minutes per game. He averages a modest six points, 3.5 rebounds and 0.9 assists per game. He is making a career best 37.4% of his threes, but is only attempting 2.9 of them per game. Snell has been horrendous from two point range, connecting on only 36% of his shots inside the arc. He’s only attempted 22 free throws all year. On the defensive end, Tony holds up well in isolation, but is not a particularly great team or help defender off the ball.

Looking beyond the box score is where things become strange. According to NBA.com/stats, the Bulls have a net rating of +5.6 when Tony Snell is in the game, the highest of any Bull. When Snell is off the court, the Bulls net rating falls to -3.4, the lowest on the team. Tony Snell, who appears to do very little to impact basketball games, somehow has the greatest impact on the team’s success.

What is causing this bizarre statistical trend? I have a couple of hypotheses, but none of them can be well supported by any objective measurement at my fingertips. The first hypothesis is that the other small forwards on the team are so bad, that Snell’s robust mediocrity is, by default, a massive boost. Doug McDermott has shot the ball well this season, but he still has a long way to go as a defender and rebounder; his presence on the floor is typically a predictor of poor results. For the second year in a row, Nikola Mirotic has been miscast as a small forward. Any advantages Niko provides on offense are erased when he’s forced to play alongside two other big men. While Snell has not done anything overwhelmingly positive, he at least does his best not to take anything off the table, something that can’t be said of Doug and Niko.

My other theory has to do with the short leash Fred Hoiberg has Snell on. There are certain games where Tony is just feeling it. When that first three finds the bottom of the net, it’s usually a sign of good things to come. On nights like that, Hoiberg extends Snell’s minutes and trusts him to add space to an offense that is constantly lacking it. But on other nights, when Snell clanks his first few attempts off the rim, Hoiberg is quick to send Tony to the bench. Guys like Jimmy Butler, Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol are counted on for big minutes every night. Even on off nights when the shots aren’t falling, these three remain on the court. In theory, if Snell only gets to play on nights when he’s playing well, his on/off numbers would be heavily skewed.

I don’t have any great answer for the Tony Snell question. But I am excited to spend the second half of the season trying to figure it out.

BPtime

Bobby Portis Deserves More Minutes — Jason Schwartz

It’s time to address the issue of reserve power forwards for the Bulls. The two that reside there (Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis) are heading in opposite directions production-wise while Fred Hoiberg continues to give the majority of the minutes to the less productive of the two.

In the past few games, Hoiberg has gone with a starting lineup of Rose, Butler, Snell, Gibson, and Gasol, demoting previous starter Nikola Mirotic to sixth man duties. However, there is no great reason going forward why Mirotic should be getting more minutes than the rookie, as the difference in production is glaring.

While Mirotic showed a lot of promise in an exciting rookie campaign, some of the glaring deficiencies in his game have made him unplayable at times this season. Niko is not a consistent defender and has regressed offensively as well.

Enter Bobby Portis, the fresh-faced rookie who found a place at the end of Fred Hoiberg’s bench to start the season, playing in no more than 10 minutes in any game until December 19th against the Knicks, when he promptly put up 20 points and 11 boards. Portis would presumably improve the defense and rebounding as the first man off of the bench as well as help out the offense. Portis is shooting the ball at a 46.2% clip, compared to Mirotic’s paltry 38.1% from the field. The real improvement, however, is the improvement in athleticism from the rookie on both sides of the floor.

Anyone who was unfortunate enough to watch the game against the Warriors on Wednesday was greeted to Mirotic constantly getting blown by on the defensive side of the ball while bricking his only four shot attempts of the night. This may have been the reason he only played 14 minutes against the stacked Warriors squad. And in those short minutes, he managed to record an astounding +/- rating of -16. This Bulls team needs more athleticism going forward, that is no secret, so there is no harm in giving the rookie a shot to make his mark so the front office can see what they have for the future. The numbers back up this philosophy, especially with Joakim Noah’s injury effectively ruining Chicago’s long championship odds.

In Bulls wins, Bobby Portis is averaging more points and nearly twice as many minutes as he does in losses (17.5 mpg and 9.9 mpg respectively). On the other hand, Niko is averaging 6 less minutes per game and less points per game in Bulls wins. While Portis has provided a chunk of these stats in garbage time, it seems clear there is a correlation between more Bobby and better results.

P-PAU!

Will the Bulls Make a Deadline Move? — Jared Wyllys

Recently, our own Jacob Bikshorn did an excellent job of outlining some of the trade possibilities as the deadline approaches. At the time of Jacob’s post, Joakim Noah looked like a real possibility for one of the players to be moved, but of course, his season has essentially ended, so he is off of the block for now. So where does that leave us? The Bulls are not known for being particularly active at the trade deadline, but the time looks right to be shopping players like Pau Gasol, Taj Gibson and possibly even Nikola Mirotic.

Prior to Christmas, the Bulls had been pretty actively shopping Noah and Taj Gibson, and while they might still be looking to move Gibson, Noah is set to be a free agent this summer, so his future is much more unclear.

Outside of the Noah related rumors, the Bulls trading market has been very quiet, which could mean that without Noah as a trade possibility, they may not look to make a move at all, though that’s not the approach that I would hope for them to take.

As it stands now, the Bulls would have the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, but it is a very tight field, and that spot shuffles regularly. And after being thoroughly trounced by the Warriors on Wednesday night, the Bulls don’t have a very easy stretch of games to finish the month of January, so this can change significantly.

As for the trade deadline next month, though I expect that the Bulls can remain competitive enough to finish with at least a seed in the top four, I think they are in a position where they need to be thinking beyond just this season. Realistically, we are looking at a team that would struggle to get out of the first or second round anyway, so I would prefer to see them build for the years to come. Jimmy Butler and Bobby Portis look like essential pieces, and beyond those two, my hope is that the front office is willing to move on from a lot of the current roster.

BULLet Points: Bulls no match for Curry and the Warriors

Losing a game by 30 points on your home floor is typically cause for hysteria. But with the Warriors in town Wednesday night, the default settings on the panic meter need to be adjusted.

  • It wasn’t all bad here in game 40. The starting back court combined to score 52 points on 50% shooting from the field. Rose was straight up cooking in the first half, scoring 21 points on 10/15 shooting.
  • Rose displayed great touch on his floaters and mid range jumpers. When Derrick hits his spots on the glass, he becomes very difficult to guard. Rose, who was 0/2 from beyond the arc, doesn’t necessarily need to become a three point marksman to open up driving lanes. If defenders have to honor jump shots of any distance, Rose will continue to fine clear paths to the basket.
  • My one complaint from this Rose performance, which ended with him scoring 29 points on 12/22 shooting, was his inability to spin his success off into success for his teammates. Rose tallied just two assists in his 30 minutes of action. While assist totals aren’t always the best indication of playmaking ability, Rose’s performance didn’t pass the eye test. Too often it seemed Rose decided he was taking the shot and didn’t look to set up his teammates for easy buckets. It’s hard to critique a player’s shot selection when he makes over 50% of his field goals, but it’s on night’s like this, when Rose has the defense’s full attention, that he should be looking for his teammates.
  • Jimmy Butler finished this game with 23 points, but almost all of his activity came in the 24 minutes of garbage time commonly referred to as the “second half of Warriors games.” Butler shot 1/7 from the field on mostly lazy contested jump shots in the first two quarters and drew just one shooting foul. He finished the game with an impressive 12 attempts from the line, but it would have been nice to see some more aggression before the game got out of hand.
  • It’s sort of discouraging that Rose and Butler’s strong individual stretches did not overlap at all.
  • The rest of the Bulls starting five combined to shoot 3/22 from the field for a combined seven points. Pau Gasol was completely erased by Draymond Green. Green is an expert defending screeners and did not let Pau get into any sort of rhythm in the pick and pop. Tony Snell was 0/4 from three and was unable to do anything positive even in an extended garbage time run. Taj at least had a cool dunk.
  • Snell has underwhelmed in his return to the starting lineup, but none of his competition for small forward minutes have done much to distinguish themselves. Mirotic was 0/5 from the field on mostly ugly clankers. McDermott was 1/6 and a team worst -28 in 32 minutes of play.
  • It was another classic low energy first quarter for the Bulls who gave up several easy buckets to the best transition offense in the NBA. The Warriors beat the Bulls down the court over and over again, including after a couple of made shots. The MO of the Bulls the last two years has been malaise against the league’s lower tiers and high intensity against the elite. The attention to detail on defense in this game put a big dent in that perception.
  • The Bulls entered the fourth quarter facing a 24 point deficit and Fred Hoiberg used the final 12 minutes to experiment. Before Cam Bairstow entered the game with three minutes left, the Bulls only big man on the court was Bobby Portis. The five out offense was fun to see, and Portis had himself a nice outing after struggling in his last few games. But the Bulls surrendered 38 points in the quarter to Golden State’s scrubs, many of which came on uncontested dunks and layups. Portis has a great motor and a pretty well rounded offensive skillset, but his ability to play NBA defense is a definite work in progress. Noah’s absence will create more learning opportunities for the rookie, but for now Portis is not capable of anchoring a defense.
  • Cristiano Felicio and Cameron Bairstow are not the frontcourt of the future.
  • Aaron Brooks was abused by Shaun Livingston. Brooks struggles to slow down most NBA point guards, but in a matchup where he was at a 10 inch disadvantage, AB never had a chance. I wish Hoiberg would have pulled the plug earlier on Brooks and given E’Twaun Moore more minutes. Moore finished with 13 points and did his best to slow down the world’s most terrifying offensive force.
  • The Warriors are amazing. They’re a machine running at full capacity from tip to final buzzer. They overwhelm teams with their passing, patience and shooting. Several times the Bulls played 20 seconds of good defense on a possession, but Golden State will make you pay for any slippage in the final four seconds.
  • The Steph Curry-Derrick Rose matchup was apparently the first between point guards who have won NBA MVP.
  • Coming up: the Bulls head to Boston for a Friday night matchup.

BULLet Points: Jimmy wills Bulls to OT victory over Pacers

  • Jimmy Butler somehow found a way to put a pretty bow on a game that was anything but aesthetically pleasing. The Bulls scratched and clawed their way to a 102-100 overtime win over the Pacers at the UC on Wednesday night. The win was the Bulls third in their last four games, and this one came without the help of Derrick Rose, who sat out due to tightness in his hamstring.
  • Playing without Rose, Butler was the clear alpha dog for the Bulls on the night. He struggled getting going at first, only putting up five points in the first half when it looked like he was forcing the action too much to compensate for Rose’s absence. But Butler picked up his game big time in the second half, and especially down the stretch, ending the game with 28 points, four rebounds, and four assists. That included the game winning basket with 1.2 seconds remaining when Pau Gasol lobbed up an alley-oop pass from the top of the key to Butler who put a magisterial touch on it to float it home to Paul George’s bewilderment.

  • What probably went unnoticed from Butler’s night however was his extraordinary defense on Paul George. He held one of the best players in the league to 7/20 shooting and forced him into three turnovers while keeping him off-balance all night. This allowed the Bulls to stay in the game while the offense struggled through a 16 point third quarter.
  • I’m officially all-in on Bench Mob 2.0. PBS (Portis, Brooks, and Snell) all did their part in contributing to this victory. Brooks led all scorers in the game with 29 points and 5 assists. Of course he also turned the ball over six times, which we’ll get to later, but his key plays down the stretch more than made up for some of his mistakes. Portis had another strong performance recording 16 points and seven rebounds on 7/12 shooting. Finally, Snell, whose numbers don’t tell the whole story. He only shot 1/6 and totaled only two points, but he also grabbed 7 boards and was a +14 on the night. His defense also caused havoc for the Pacers all night as his long wing-span helped force turnovers. The Bench Mob 2.0 was the sole reason the Bulls had any sort of lead at halftime with Butler struggling the entire first half.
  • Things weren’t all rainbows and sunshine on the night as the Bulls turned the ball over 21 times, leading to 27 points off turnovers, which kept the Pacers in the game despite shooting only 38.1% on the night. The Bulls lacked a killer instinct yet again after going up by as many as 14 in the 3rd quarter. They became complacent and flat-footed leading to no ball movement and forced passes into the paint which led to the aforementioned turnovers. If it weren’t for some Jimmy Butler heroics, the heart on this team would have been called into question after losing out on nearly every 50/50 ball in the 2nd half.
  • Another somber note is reserved for Nikola Mirotic. The Montenegro native scored a grand total of zero points in his 20 minutes on the floor, bringing his total to two points over 37 minutes played in his previous 2 games. It is no mystery that Mirotic struggles on the defensive side of the floor, so leaving him on the court for almost half the game when he can’t score calls into question the rotations Hoiberg is using when the team is struggling on offense like in the 3rd quarter tonight.
  • Coming up: The Bulls ring in the New Year by hosting 3 6 Latvia (Kristaps Porzingis) and the New York Knickerbockers on January 1st. Happy New Years!