PACE : #22 92.8 OFFENSE: #11 105.5 DEFENSE: #1 97.4
Derrick Rose was the NBA’s regular season Most Valuable Player but make no mistake, it was Tom Thibodeau’s combination of team defense and rebounding the primary reason for the Bulls having the best record of the regular season.
Chicago enjoyed playing in the worst division of the NBA last season by going 15-1 in divisional games – I remember that they were the only team in the Central Division that finished the regular season with a positive record!
The Bulls stingy defense was just too much for the lowly teams as they went 37-5 vs. below 0.500 teams. However they also beat the best teams in the league with an Eastern best of 25-13 record vs. above 0.500 teams.
Tom Thibodeau’s Defensive & Rebounding numbers: Rank #1 Defensive Efficiency with 97.4; Rank #2 Points in the paint allowed per game with 36.2 ppg; Rank #3 Defensive Rebounding% Team with 76.22%; Rank #4 Offensive Rebounding% Team with 29.40%; Rank #6 FG% allowed at the rim with 61.6% FG; Rank #4 FG% allowed from 16-23 feet with 37.1% FG; Rank #1 3PTS% allowed with 32.6%;
These rankings were really superb if we take in account that Joakim Noah only played 48 games during the regular season and he is the defensive anchor of the frontcourt. Also Carlos Boozer was the Bulls’ premier Power Forward and we know that “defense” is far from being his forte.
The Boston Celtics have been a defensive force since Thibodeau installed his system with the Big 3, so there is no reason to think that the Bulls won’t be a defensive force once again this season.
However if the Bulls want to win a Championship, they need to do better on the offensive end!
Derrick Rose was the Most Valuable Player of the regular season, but he can’t win it all alone. Only Monta Ellis, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant attempted more Field Goals per game than Derrick Rose and the result of such high usage was Rose shooting below the 45% FG mark for the first time in his career.
After attempting 0.9 and 0.8 treys per game, Rose launched almost 5 treys per game last season! That’s a lot if we add the fact that he hit only 33.2% of those shots. He also shot only 38% FG from 16-23 feet, so the Bulls have to find a way to give Rose more quality shots or more offensive options.
Carlos Boozer could be that guy if he can improve his offensive numbers. Note that Boozer still produced 17.5 points per game while shooting 51% from the field, but the feeling in Chicago is that Boozer did have a poor season. Nevertheless I remember that Boozer missed the preseason and played his first game only in December, so it was hard for him to “gel” into the Bulls system because we should not forget that Boozer was used to play along with Deron Williams a deadly “pick and roll” offensive system that wasn’t used in Chicago with Derrick Rose. A healthy and more accustomed Boozer can make the difference on the offensive end because Noah, Gibson and Omer Asik aren’t offensive threats when playing.
Luol Deng had a pretty solid season in both ends of the floor. He was rock solid averaging 39.1 minutes per game while playing every single game! He was the face of a Bulls roster composed by hard workers that got the best record of the regular season.
The Bulls have some nice depth on their bench that will be pivotal when the back-to-back-to-back games make their apparence.
For this season the Bulls will be once again a powerful defensive team and a dominating rebounding team. The X factor is the ability of their offense to be more versatile and not so Rose dependable.