Bulls working to 'clean up and fix' turnover issues


Bulls working to 'clean up and fix' turnover issues

The offseason hype surrounding Fred Hoiberg's up-tempo offensive philosophy was expected to inject new life into a Bulls group that had wilted down the stretch in last year's playoffs, ending in a 73-point outing in a Game 6 loss to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The 3-point-heavy offense has yielded more positive results than negative, as the Bulls stand at 2-1 with an important win over those Cavaliers on opening night, in the season's first week.

But within the new offensive scheme the Bulls have been practicing for a little more than a month - the majority of which came without the sidelined Derrick Rose - has also produced some careless play, as they rank among the league's worst in both turnovers per game and per possession through three games.

Granted, the sample size is minuscule and really not fair to judge any team on, let alone one dealing with an entirely new coaching staff and scheme, so early in the season.

Still, through three games the Bulls have averaged 17.7 turnovers per game, ranked 24th in the NBA and are ahead of only Washington, Toronto and Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference. Their turnover percentage, which takes into account pace of play, is 16.8 percent, also 24th in the league. A year ago the Bulls averaged just 14.4 turnover per game, 13th in the league.

[MORE: Hoiberg misses practice to attend Flip Saunders' funeral]

A year ago Cleveland, Brooklyn and Detroit all ranked in the lower half of the NBA in turning opponents over, so it’s not as if the Bulls are squaring off against pesky defenses, either.

"We try to analyze our turnovers as best we can. There are some charges in there. There are some poor decisions, poor passing, kind of a hodgepodge," said assistant coach Jim Boylen at Saturday afternoon's practice. "It’s something we have to clean up and fix. Offensively, you have to get a shot on goal. And turnovers don’t allow you to do that. It’s a point of emphasis in everything we do."

Friday it cost the Bulls dearly. Thirteen miscues against Detroit meant a 39-point first half, and they were unable to get a shot off with less than a minute to play in a tie game. The game then went to overtime, where the Bulls were outscored 15-11 in their first loss of the season.

All told the Bulls are 19th in offensive efficiency and ninth in defensive efficiency, again small sample sizes but telling of the Bulls still figuring out how to maneuver in Hoiberg’s offense. The positives are there; Derrick Rose has been aggressive attacking the rim - sans the end of Friday night's game, when his jumper at the end of regulation was off the mark - Jimmy Butler has been a facilitator in addition to his scoring prowess, and Nikola Mirotic has flourished as the starting power forward, averaging 19.7 points on 51 percent shooting.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

They'll only improve as the starting unit spends more time in the system together - Mike Dunleavy is still expected to miss at least another month after offseason back surgery - as they look to raise their 17.7 assists per game, currently 28th in the NBA.

"I think it’s a work in progress. I think there have been moments where it’s very good and other moments where it’s struggled," Boylen said of the offseason. "I think some credit has to go to Detroit’s defense. They played very hard and they were locked into us pretty good."

Bulls Talk Podcast: Vincent Goodwill previews free agency


Bulls Talk Podcast: Vincent Goodwill previews free agency

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski and Kevin Anderson are joined by Yahoo Sports NBA insider Vincent Goodwill

0:45 - Vinnie on basketball never stopping

1:55 - On Bulls selection of Coby White

2:45 - Dynamic between Kris Dunn and White

5:30 - Are Bulls likely to bring in a veteran point guard to mentor White?

7:30 - What kind of contract is Pat Beverley looking at?

9:40 - Will Bulls have enough cap space to sign three free agents?

11:50 - Vinnie on his vote for Zach LaVine for Most Improved Player

13:25 - On the NBA Awards show and its timing

15:45 - On Giannis and the Bucks, where can he still develop?

18:05 - On Kevin Durant and his options in free agency

21:40 - Why Durant will want to control his own destiny

23:30 - Vinnie on Jimmy Butler and where he may end up

26:10 - Vinnie on why he didn’t play in the media tournament during the NBA Finals

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Bulls Talk Podcast


The 1995-1998 Bulls belong on the list of 10 greatest lineups in NBA history


The 1995-1998 Bulls belong on the list of 10 greatest lineups in NBA history

Listen, Tom. We like you. A lot. You do incredible work and you give us shoutouts. But we had to read through your latest piece, “Ranking the 10 greatest lineups in NBA history,” a few times before realizing you had a massive omission.

We present the following: The 1995-1998 Chicago Bulls.

PG: Ron Harper
SG: Michael Jordan
SF: Scottie Pippen
PF: Toni Kukoc
C: Dennis Rodman

Total All-Star appearances: 23
MVP Players: 1
DPOY Players: 2
Finals MVP Players: 1
Titles won together: 3

We thank you for mentioning Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in your piece. They were pretty good, we agree. We’ll dig a little deeper on those two to begin our argument. From 1995 to 1998, Jordan averaged 29.6 points on 48% shooting, 6.1 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.9 steals. He also didn’t miss a game, playing in 304 of a possible 304 games. He was also named league MVP twice and Finals MVP all three years. Pippen wasn’t too shabby a sidekick, averaging 19.7 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.8 assists in that three-year span.

These guys were all-time greats, but you might have forgotten that they weren’t alone.

All Dennis Rodman did in this three-season span was lead the league in rebounding all three years (15.3 per game). He wasn’t the same All-Star talent that he was in his Detroit days – also a two-time Defensive Player of the Year – and his San Antonio stint but he was still critical to the Bulls’ success. The Worm had a little bit of Draymond Green in him, not afraid to take on any defensive assignment to allow the Bulls a little more versatility. He got assignments of Shawn Kemp and Karl Malone in the Finals.

Kukoc is where we bend the rules a bit, but we hope you’ll allow it (mostly because our argument turns to dust if we need to talk about Luc Longley). Kukoc was the 1996 Sixth Man of the Year (hey, you said they could be closing lineups, too) and was a model of consistency in those three seasons. He averaged 13.2 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists and gave the Bulls another ball handler and distributor, as well as versatile defense. He’s at times the forgotten gem of the Jerry Krause era, and he’s more than just a funny story from the Dream Team era.

The Bulls had their Iguodala, too. Ron Harper averaged a modest 7.7 points and 2.7 assists in these three seasons with the Bulls. But he also did it with a 14.9% usage rate. That was lower than Bill Wennington’s usage rate of 17.0% in that same span! Let’s not forget that Harper had averaged 19.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists in eight seasons with the Cavaliers and Clippers before signing with the Jordan-less Bulls. He would have had a much larger and more effective role had Jordan not returned (we’re glad he did). In 1998, Harper also had the pleasure of guarding Gary Payton and John Stockton in the Bulls’ three Finals victories. Have you had enough of the Iggy comparisons yet?

So there it is. Five incredible players to put together three remarkable championship seasons that included the Greatest Team in the History of Basketball (our capitalization intended). Feel free to update your story as needed.