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How Can The Chicago Bulls Adjust Their Season?
- Updated: February 20, 2017
With All-Star weekend now in the books, teams are heading into their final playoff push, and the Chicago Bulls find themselves fighting to keep a playoff spot. Prior to the break, the Bulls escaped with a narrow victory over the Boston Celtics and find themselves only a game back out of the 6th spot in the east. Everything before that point, however, was an absolute mess filled with confusion and disappointment. Since the second half of the season is about to begin, I figured I would give my thoughts on what the main adjustment should be for the Chicago Bulls as the season slowly reaches its conclusion.
The Bulls have been a team full of conundrums to me. When you look up and down the roster, as a team you can see what the Bulls can or cannot do for the most part in terms of strengths and weaknesses. There are a lot of things I could say is the cause when it comes to the Bulls and their dysfunction as an organization. I could focus on how Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler voiced their displeasure with their teammates, as they shook things up within the franchise. I could also talk about management’s inability to draft good young talent consistently, and their lack of willingness to get creative with their roster and roster transactions. There are definitely different topics I could harp on, but I am going to just keep it simple.
As an organization, people don’t know what the Bulls’ end game is going to be when all of this unfolds. There is even good reason to believe the franchise itself doesn’t even know what their end game is. So I could say those are some adjustments that need some looking into.
As we all know, winning cures all. For the Bulls, based off how the first half of the season went for them, the main adjustment they should make in order to find some type of winning formula is proper lineup construction.
How the organization is ran as a whole isn’t on the coaches or the players, but it does effect if the team can succeed or not to a certain extent. The coaches and players can figure out how to build their rotations from game to game to give themselves the best chance to win, and the Bulls have shown many times that even though they don’t have the preferred type of players on the team to match Fred Hoiberg, they have players that can be good enough.
The Bulls are dead last or near last in all the three-point categories, so in most cases that would indicate that the team doesn’t have any legit three-point shooters, but with the Bulls, it’s a little tricky. I would consider guys like Jimmy Butler, Bobby Portis, Doug McDermott, Denzel Valentine, and Nikola Mirotic being the Bulls’ known or assumed shooters. They also have decent shooters in Jerian Grant and Dwyane Wade that aren’t known for being shooters, but they can knock them down when attempted. I call it a tricky situation because even though the Bulls have these guys on the roster, their playing time together is almost non-existent. Fred Hoiberg will have times when he has some of his better shooters on the floor surrounded around a non-shooter like Rajon Rondo or Michael Carter-Williams to maximize the space needed for the offense to operate. The majority of the time and in crunch situations, however, Hoiberg would put groups on the floor that only had one shooter, and the rest would be guys who either can’t create their own shot really well or could only score near or around the basket, killing the spacing needed to run a fluid offense.
One of the main problems the Bulls have had so far all season is that Fred Hoiberg has not had a stable lineup all year. He and his staff would make decisions to play their young guys one night, and then have them not play at all for a string of games. This development killing technique has been used all season with the Bulls’ younger players. Though they have been given some chances to play and show what they can do, there is no denying that Hoiberg should be playing his younger players more and getting more creative and consistent with his rotations and schemes.
If there was any evidence of these needed improvements, it could be found in the Bulls’ last game against the Celtics. Bobby Portis found himself getting Nikola Mirotic’s minutes that night, and he easily had his best game of the season. He was knocking down three-point shots, making hustle plays, getting rebounds, and he brought the energy the Bulls needed to help seal their surprising victory over Boston.
If Fred Hoiberg can figure out a way to play his younger players more and play lineups that actually fit what he is trying to get done offensively, the Bulls have a chance to slightly turn the ship around. Like I said earlier, Hoiberg has had the worst looking lineups on the floor during some of the most crucial times of the game. He has also shown that he can put some interesting lineups on the court that make a ton of sense, it’s just usually a matter of if the team can execute properly. That part comes from having stability as a team and having the players believe in their roles. The Chicago Bulls are now fighting to keep their playoff spot, and with a tough schedule coming up in March, a lot of questions will be answered and we will soon find out what the true state of this team is by season’s end.