Bulls

Rose, Bulls take out anger on Wizards

657028.png

Rose, Bulls take out anger on Wizards

Updated: Monday, Jan. 30 at 10:43 p.m.
WASHINGTON Its often said in NBA circles that the best cure for what ails a team is to play, well, a bad team.

While Tom Thibodeau can claim that even a bottom-of-the-barrel squad is legitimately capable of beating the leagues elite and to his point the Wizards (4-16) made a fourth-quarter run, perhaps preying upon the Bulls (18-5) complacency a trip to the Verizon Center, resulting in a 98-88 win Monday night, was in many ways, the ideal bounce-back game from the Bulls emotional loss in Miami Sunday.

The visitors attacked the Wizards athletic, but inexperienced young big men at the outset, with Carlos Boozer (18 points, eight rebounds) using his savvy to produce in the early going and Joakim Noah (14 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists) exhibiting his typical high activity level.

However, the game quickly shaped into a point-guard duel between John Calipari protgs Derrick Rose (35 points, eight assists) and second-year Washington speedster John Wall (20 points, six assists), who carried the offensive load for the home team.When I woke up this morning, Sundays game was out of my mind. I just wanted to come out here, play aggressive. They have a good young team, where theyre great in transition and everyone just tried to learn the game plan, said Rose. Im just playing my game, man. Thats me being aggressive. Thibs always tells me just to play my game and everybody will follow.Explained Noah: Hes the ultimate competitor and he came to play tonight. He always does and we win and lose by that guy.
While Rose was complimentary of Wall prior to the game, he also spoke of trying to go crazy in an extensive, candid pregame interview and delivered on that claim, dropping in a variety of floaters and executing dynamic dribble moves, as well as managing to distribute the ball. He set the tone and hes been doing that. I think hes feeling a lot better. When he comes out like that, its his will. He imposes his will on everybody. He made us very aggressive, said Thibodeau. To me and you guys have seen him, you see him all the time every aspect of the game; he got to the line 15 times, hes in the paint, hes making plays, hes playing really good defense, running the team. I suppose, if you want to nit-pick, he could have had a couple of rebounds. Hes playing at a very, very high level right now.I thought, as a team, everybody did a good job being ready to play, which I thought would be critical for this game and playing from a lead was so important for us because we had to withstand that rush at the end. Because we had that cushion, it allowed us to take the hit and still be able to finish the game, and win.

Though missing injured starters Luol Deng and Rip Hamilton Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver (17 points) started in their place the short-handed Bulls ended the opening period with a comfortable 26-16 advantage.Right now, were good. Were down a couple players. We definitely miss them, but theres no excuses when youre in the NBA, Rose said. Weve still got to go out there and play these games, and were just playing team basketball.
A modified Bench Mob featuring an early appearance from rookie swingman Jimmy Butler, as well as the return to the lineup of backup point guard C.J. Watson, who had missed the teams two previous contests with a right wrist injury started the second quarter for Chicago and maintained the squads double-digit edge.

Washington received effective play from talented, yet often inconsistent center JaVale McGee (16 points, nine rebounds), who showed flashes offensively (including an old-school sky hook) and was his usual shot-blocking presence on the defensive end.

The pesky Wizards, while at times revealing why theyve been so hapless this season, were opportunistic when the Bulls made self-inflicted miscues and prevented their guests from opening up an even wider gap. However, with Korver truly breaking out of his slump to ensure the Bulls breathing room was never truly threatened and they went into the break with a 51-40 lead, following a Rose jumper with a second remaining in the first half.It was nice to be out there for a good period of time. I think its good when you know youre going to have more time, said Korver, who jokingly acknowledged that its back to the bench when Deng returns from injury. Youre not worried that, I might only get three, four shots, so youre able to be a little bit more patient. Got some good looks, probably should have made a few that I missed.Added Thibodeau: He was great. He had a tough matchup, too. He gave up a lot of size to Wizards forward Rashard Lewis and I thought he battled. I thought his defense was excellent and hitting threes I believe he had five tonight thats huge. It just spreads the floor. The three-point shot, for Derrick, is critical. It opens up floor and Derrick, in the pick-and-roll, I thought was sensational.
After the intermission, the Bulls gradually extended their lead, as Roses continued relentlessness, Korvers shooting and contributions from Brewer led the way, helping the separation between the teams grow to more than 20 points. Rose was the catalyst of the visitors push to extinguish the hosts, as he predominately stuck to using his mid-range floater, but mixed in the occasional long bomb, finish at the rim and timely assist.Im very comfortable shooting that shot, but Im just taking what the defense is giving me. Im sick and tired of getting hit, and not getting the call or getting hit and falling on the floor. Thats an easy shot for me, so why not take it? explained Rose, who picked up a second-quarter technical foul for arguing a call. I felt like I had to get that one. I didnt mean to get it the way that I got it, but I felt like I had to say something.I felt like at the time, it changed. It actually changed the way that they were playing, he continued. Plays like that can definitely give a team confidence and thats what I was trying not to do.
Meanwhile, Chicago suffocated the Wizards offense, quashing any semblance of rhythm or quality shots for their young counterparts though undersized power forward Trevor Booker (14 points, nine rebounds) and instant-offense shooting guard Jordan Crawford (10 points) were sparks off the bench not exactly the most difficult task to perform against a team struggling chemistry and a recent coaching change. Just wanted to stay aggressive. We thought the first five minutes of the third, it was a critical point of the game because they actually were creeping back a little bit at the end of the second, so we didnt like the way we closed out the half, Thibodeau explained. We thought the start of the third, we wanted to set the tone with aggressiveness at both ends and for the most part, I thought we did and I give them a lot of credit. They hung tough and they battled back.Chimed in Rose: Staying aggressive, thats the biggest thing. I think were learning from it. Usually, in the third quarter, we tend to back off. This game, we kept going, tried to make the game easy and thats how we got the win.
Rose was subbed out in the waning moments of his efficient, 18-point period, with the Bulls leading, 76-59, prompting a small portion of the Verizon Center crowd to head for the exits, as they didnt anticipate the man they chanted M-V-P for returning to the contest.

The final stanza at first appeared to be following a familiar theme, with the Bulls using the quarter as extended garbage time and Boozer using the time to get himself into rhythm. Washington, however, had different plans, rewriting the script and cutting the deficit to single digits behind dogged defense and balanced play from a unit featuring Wall, McGee, Booker, Crawford and gunner Nick Young (17 points).Knocking down shots, being a veteran like he is, one of the leaders on the team, Rose said of Boozer. We hold everybody accountable when were on the floor and thats what we always when we step out there.

Boozers combination of powerful finishing and short jumpers, as well as Noahs playmaking the center, one of the rare players at his position in the league able to handle the ball and create for others, served as a playmaker when Rose was doubled in the backcourt; as Boozer explained, At the end of the game, they put two on D-Rose because he was out of control, to say the least were the visitors saving grace, staving off the Wizards and their pressure defense. Joakim, thats him. Hes one of the bigs in the league that can actually run the fast break, making great decisions. It was kind of weird. There were guys who were absolutely open. He had to make the right decision. I think he did great, said Rose. I think that teams are looking at that trapping him, but I think with Joakim being in the middle, its definitely going to make the game easy. We call it easy offense, so why not pass it to him and he makes the decisions?Echoed Thibodeau: The value of Jo some teams try to early blitz Derrick on the high pick-and-roll and Jo is very good in the middle of the floor, with his decision-making, his ability to put it down and create easy offense for us, so I thought that we had to get our spacing right first and once we did that, I thought it created easy offense for us.Joakim did a good job making plays in the fourth quarter. I thought we had solid contributions from a number of guys. I think Carlos, late in the game, was very good, he added.
Although a Chicago win was never really in doubt, the lackluster ending to the affair wasnt necessarily quite the satisfying conclusion the Bulls had hoped for. Still, the fact that they overcame the potential malaise from a heart-breaking defeat was enough to feel a sense of accomplishment afterwards.Said Boozer: Were driven. We have a lot of drive, we have a lot of focus and we have a goal in mind, and were all hungry to achieve it. Tonights game had just as much weight as last nights game. As bad as we wanted to win last night, we wanted to win tonight bad, too.We go into each game with the end in mind. We want to be a championship team and weve got to bring it every night to be there, he continued. We talked about how much we put into Sundays game and to come up short was disappointing, but we talked about the carry-over. A championship team will be able to dust Sundays game off and be ready for tonights game, and I think we did a great job of that.

Jabari Parker and Tyler Ulis shine at open run in Chicago

jabari.jpg
USA TODAY

Jabari Parker and Tyler Ulis shine at open run in Chicago

Jabari Parker is looking forward to what will surely be an intriguing season for he and the Chicago Bulls.


Parker signed a two-year, $40 million contract, that essentially acts as a tryout for the Bulls. The second year of the contract is a team option, meaning should things not go well, the organization can cut ties with him. But after 183 career games with the Bucks over four seasons, it was clear that Parker was in need of a fresh start. In Chicago, he will slide in as the day one starting small forward, and is already paid like a player who is definitely appreciated by his organization.


But with all of the off the court stuff taken care of for now, Parker's main focus is getting in to the best shape of his life, as he prepares for a full season as a wing player. 


Part of Parker's preparation was a great pickup game in downtown Chicago organized by the Chicago Basketball Club.

 

For Bulls fans itching to get a look at Parker on the court, the video shows off some flashy passing ability, impressive handles and a flurry of pull-up jumpers from the 23-year old forward. He also finishes well in transition in the video, though that is to be taken with a grain of salt as Parker was easily the biggest player on the court. 


Other players in the pickup game included former Simeon teammate of Parker's, Kendrick Nunn; and NBA free agent and former Marion Catholic star Tyler Ulis (a possible Bulls target?). If Parker looks as dynamic against NBA competition as he did in the pickup game below, the Bulls are going to have one of the more valuable contracts in the league in 2020, and would be likely to lock up Parker to a long-term deal. 

Bulls need to develop a secondary playmaker

playmaking.jpg
USA TODAY

Bulls need to develop a secondary playmaker

These are the career points per 36 minutes numbers for the three players who figure to get majority of the field goal attempts on the 2018-19 Bulls:

Zach LaVine: 17.6 
Lauri Markkanen: 18.4 
Jabari Parker: 17.9

There is no debating that this current Bulls roster has multiple players who can flat-out put the ball in the basket. The the biggest questions come into play when you try to imagine how these players will keep each other involved, assuming they take the lion's share of the field goal attempts.

Kris Dunn finished just outside the top 10 in the league in assist percentage (33.3 percent), a higer mark than Damian Lillard, Kyle Lowry or Stephen Curry. And though he is a talented passer, what this figure really shows is that the Bulls severely lack a secondary playmaker to take pressure off of Dunn to create shots for others.

Per Ben Falk's site Cleaning The Glass, Markkanen was not able to create for others with his offense, but shockingly, Parker and LaVine did an OK job in the play-making department, considering their reputation as shoot-first players.

Assist rate is a great way to see how much a player is distributing when they are on the floor. And usage rate is perhaps the best way to get an idea of how many possessions a player uses on offense. So naturally, assist to usage ratio is one of the best tools to use to assess a player's ability and willingness to create opportunities for others on offense. What the statistic boils down to is: how often did a player get an assist given how much they had the ball. 

Parker finished last season in the 67th percentile in assist to usage ratio, and LaVine finished in the 58th percentile. These numbers show that both players are capable passers and clearly have the potential to be great setup men.

This is crucial because Markkanen’s development will heavily depend on if he can expand his scoring repertoire, something that looks increasingly difficult with Parker and LaVine, who have averaged a combined 29.5 field goal attempts per 36 minutes for their careers. 

Many times throughout the offseason you likely heard about how the Bulls have many mouths to feed in the locker room. But this doesn’t pertain to just shots, ball-control will be a major concern as well. With incumbent point guard Kris Dunn still a relatively weak floor-spacer (32 percent from 3-point range last season), Fred Hoiberg will need to get creative with his rotations to keep the offense running efficiently. Backup point guard Cam Payne shot 38 percent from the 3-point line last season, and when inserting him into the game for Dunn, Parker would flourish as a point-forward (possibly) surrounded by four competent shooters. Parker could derail the Bulls offense because he is not an elite 3-point shooter, but that issue is mitigated when you put the ball in his hands to let him create.


Parker was fourth in the pecking order in Milwaukee last season, and so it comes as no surprise that his free throw attempts, points and field goal percentage dropped from his 2017 numbers. If you look at the 2017 season (Parker’s breakout season) you see that Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo pretty much split the No. 1 options duties on offense. They each took about 16 shots apiece and combined for 8.2 assists per game. This is a best case scenario for the Parker-LaVine wing duo. 


LaVine has the benefit of coming into the league as a point guard, and he has still retained the ability to make the right pass when it presents itself. And last season, he had an impressive turnover percentage that was just below 10 percent. However, the reason for this was that he averaged 4.34 seconds per touch, a very long time in an NBA possession, usually looking to score and nothing else. It’s easy to avoid turnovers when you aren’t looking to pass.


LaVine usually makes the obvious play if it is one pass away, but he does not move the ball around to prevent the offense from becoming stagnant.


Both LaVine and Parker will have their struggles on defense (understatement of the year), but much more important to their development is understanding that if you give the ball up on offense, it will find its way back to you. This is perhaps the only way a Bulls team that ranked 28th last season in offensive rating, can make a big enough leap in scoring efficiency to make their way back to the postseason.