Jim Boylen's offensive philosophy has been oft-criticized early in the Bulls 2019-20 season, chiefly because of a lack of results.

Based on the tenants of a modern, analytics-driven NBA offense, the process has been sound, at least on paper: The Bulls are currently averaging the eighth most three-point attempts per game (35.5), second most restricted area field goal attempts per game (34.3) and third least midrange jumpers per game (6.8) in the league.

The problem, though, is that the team ranks 24th in the NBA in three-point percentage (34%), last in restricted area field goal percentage (55.1%) and 28th in offensive rating (103.6). They're also, of course, 6-12.

Wendell Carter Jr. has been a leading voice in a locker room of players that, for the most part, have assumed accountability for their early-season struggles (though the blame being wholly — or even partially — assigned there is debatable). Carter has positively progressed in many statistical categories in his second season: On a near-equal amount of shot attempts to his rookie campaign, Carter's field goal percentage has leaped from 48.5% to 59.5% (71.4% in the restricted area) and both his rebounds (9.8) and points (12.8) per game totals are up from a year ago. (That's nearly a double-double for those of you keeping track at home.)

But his assists per game and usage rate (16.5%, ninth on the team by players playing more than 10 minutes per game) have both declined, a negative development for someone with tremendous potential as a faciliator. His three-point attempts per game have also stagnated and he has often appeared unwilling to take open midrange jumpers.

 

Many have pointed to Boylen as the culprit behind that perceived passivity. For what it's worth, Carter and Boylen have repudiated that notion. Carter said recently that his focus within the offense is always on making the "right play" and that the emphasis on 3-pointers and shots at the rim hasn't impacted his approach.

"I don't not want him to take them. It's all about time, score, situation, how the defense is," Boylen said Monday when pointedly asked about Carter's perceived reluctance to take open midrange jumpers. "But we know he's dynamic in the pocket, we like him in the pocket."

However, one day after a blowout loss at home to the Portland Trail Blazers, Carter 'liked' a tweet that appeared to criticize Boylen's midrange jumper-less offense. The tweet accompanies a clip that shows Portland's defense aggressively sagging off Carter, causing congestion in potential driving, passing and cutting lanes for the Bulls.

The clip in question occurs between the 10 and 15 second mark on the shot clock.

Carter is currently averaging 0.6 midrange shot attempts per game, and the argument that the Bulls offense might be better with a few more is both fair and oft-discussed. Not all midrange jumpers are created equal, after all, and a few here and there could free up other avenues for the Bulls to get easy looks.

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