In Friday night’s eight-point loss to the Jazz, the Bulls actually won the turnover battle, a rare occurrence for the young squad. And they received solid contributions off the bench from the likes of Jabari Parker (!!), Robin Lopez and even new Bulls swingman Wayne Selden Jr. Even though this loss ties the Bulls longest losing streak of this season, there were plenty of positives to gather from the Bulls effort in Utah.
Jabari Parker is still around.....
And he is still a pretty good scorer and a poor defender, and it still seems like the Bulls should play him more. Parker checked-in in the first quarter and after starting off slow, he got going in the second quarter. In that period, Parker had 7 points, 4 rebounds and an assist with no turnovers.
And just as important, he confidently stepped into a 3-pointer, his first 3-point make since December 10. Overall Parker finished the night with 11 points on 50 percent shooting from the field. He did look a bit winded early on, but that’ll happen when you only get two meaningful appearances over a 15-game stretch.
But Parker looked solid against a good Utah team, there is no reason to keep him out of the rotation going forward.
Even if Jim Boylen doesn’t believe Parker can truly be a successful sixth man for the Bulls, 18-to-20 minutes a night is enough to give him decent run and not disrupt the rest of the rotation too much. And playing him more is unlikely hurt his trade value, as his trade value as of now is tied to his contract rather than his on-the-court production.
The Bulls need to work very hard on closeouts and 3-point defense in the next practice
The Bulls--while being 15th in the league in opponent’s 3-point percentage at 35.5 percent--are not very good at limiting opponents’ 3-point attempts, with teams getting up 33.1 3-point attempts per game against them. And that showed up big-time in this game. The Jazz--who attempt 32.7 3-point attempts per game--got up a whopping 45 3-point attempts against the Bulls, connecting on 16 of them. Unsurprisingly, this was the major difference in the game, just as it was in the loss to the Warriors on Friday night.
In the #Bulls loss to the Warriors last night, Klay Thompson was 3/3 from the 3-pt line in the 1st quarter. Tonight, Joe Ingles is 3/3 from the 3-pt line in the 1st quarter.— Michael Walton (@ZenMasterMike) January 13, 2019
At the end of the first quarter Ingles was 3/5 from the 3-point line, and the Jazz (as a whole) went 6/13 from 3-point range.
Interestingly enough, if you look at just the second through fourth quarters, the Bulls won that frame 83-81. And in that same span the Bulls held the Jazz to 31 percent from the 3-point line. Conditioning may or may not be a crucial component of the Bulls defensive slip-ups. But this game suggested that perhaps their main issue is a lack of defensive focus at the beginning of games.
After playing two games against teams who have great 3-pointers shooters, the Bulls next game will be against a Lakers team that actually has a worse 3-point percentage than them (and will likely be without LeBron James).
So attention to detail will continue to be the name of the game for these young Bulls, who need to be able to identify the most prominent 3-point threats and prioritize on the fly. If you allow an opponent’s three best 3-point shooters to hoist 22 3-point attempts--as they did on Saturday night--you are going to lose almost every time.
The Bulls may have found something in Wayne Selden Jr.
Selden was the player the Bulls kept from the trade that sent Justin Holiday to the Memphis Grizzlies. Selden is a physical guard with a capable jump shot. Last season, he shot a very impressive 40 percent from the 3-point line on 122 attempts. But part of his appeal is the ability to fit with various playing styles, and Selden looked a perfect fit on Friday night.
Wow. @WayneSeldenJr is a very nice 4/4 from the field in 13 minutes w/everything coming in the flow of the offense. Very excited as his potential and still shocked that Memphis gave him up in the Holiday trade #Bulls— Michael Walton (@ZenMasterMike) January 13, 2019
He went on to finish the game with 11 points on 71 percent shooting, including going 1/2 from the 3-point line.
Selden was in most of the positive lineups against the Jazz, the most important fact being that a lineup of the core four (Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn Wendell Carter) finished with a +0 plus/minus rating, and finished with the second-most points of any Bulls lineup on the night.
He also made an excellent effort play that will no doubt get him in Jim Boylen’s good graces, and giving effort like this on a nightly basis will likely keep him in the rotation moving forward.
Wayne Selden with the heads up play, leading to a nice finish from Shaq. Great effort from the squad tonight. pic.twitter.com/NyVrdAZIP7— Bulls Talk (@NBCSBulls) January 13, 2019
BONUS takeaway: Bulls had a block party, various Jazz players were invited
Markkanen, Carter and Dunn combined for five of the Bulls seven blocks. And while the Bulls may use a slow-tempo offense under Boylen, being more active in rim protection will ignite more opportunities for the Bulls to get out in transition. This will also help the Bulls front office better evaluate their young talent.
With Selden looking like a good fit with this group, it will be fun to see if Chicago can build off of this solid performance--though obviously, they hope it results in a win next time--as they take on a Lakers team next, that will likely be without Bulls arch nemesis LeBron James.