The Chicago Bulls have dropped six of their last 10 games, and have been outscored in nine consecutive fourth quarters. The offensive woes of late are becoming a cause for concern in Chicago.
The Chicago Bulls have struggled to gain consistency on the offensive side of the ball as to date this season, and are seeing their solid start escape them as a result. The Bulls have been out scored in each of their last nine fourth quarters, including Tuesday night when they dropped a game to the Minnesota Timberwolves that they led by 21 at one point in the first half.
The Bulls now sit at 13-11, in sixth place in the Eastern Conference standings just past the first quarter mark of the 2016-2017 NBA season, due in large part to their inability to score. The Bulls rank 23rd in the NBA in points per game with 102.6 per game. The defense is the only saving grace for the Bulls at this point, ranked 5th in the NBA, allowing an average of just 99.8 points per game.
What’s the deal with the struggling Bulls offense? The offense is largely one dimensional, as their perimeter scoring ranks among the worst in basketball, while their mid-range offense is just slightly better. They rely on working in the paint, and getting to the free-throw line far too often.
Bulls shooters have attempted 603 free-throws to date, ranking third in the league in terms of their success rate at the charity stripe, sitting at 80 percent to date.
The Bulls perimeter offense is so bad right now that it ranks dead last in the NBA in three point field goals (144), three point field goal attempts (469) and three point field goal percentage (.307).
The mid-range offense is not much more efficient though, ranking 23rd in the NBA with a 47 percent field goal percentage from inside the three point arc, and are shooting 44 percent as a team overall, good for only 23rd in the league. The offense currently ranks in the bottom third in the NBA in every major scoring category outside of their stellar free-throw field goal percentage.
In fact the only other offensive statistic that they rank better than the bottom third in the league in is offensive rebounding. The Bulls are averaging 13.4 offensive rebounds per game, ranking them second in the NBA in that category. Robin Lopez, Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson have led the way for the Bulls in the offensive rebounding category through the first 24 games of the season.
Only Jimmy Butler (25.7), Dwyane Wade (19.9) and Taj Gibson (12.0) are currently averaging more that 10 points per game, so the offense is struggling to find some help for the big scorers. Shot selection has a big role in the offensive inefficiency thus far.
For example, Jimmy Butler, the Bulls leading scorer is shooting about 58 percent on field goal attempts in the 3-10 feet range, with those shots only accounting for 14 percent of his field goal attempts. In contrast 22 percent of his shots have been from 16 feet or beyond, with his field goal percentage on those shots taking a nose dive all the way down to just a pedestrian 43 percent.
Obviously Jimmy Butler is the least of the Bulls offensive concerns, averaging 25 plus points per game to go along with four assists per game. At the same time, if Butler was attempting to drive to the basket more frequently to take advantage of his nearly 55 percent field goal percentage on field goal attempts within the 0-16 foot range, as well as his 89 percent free-throw percentage, I’d have to imagine that his points per game and field goal percentage would see a sizeable boost.
A better example of some particularly poor shooting selection for the Bulls would be Nikola Mirotic. Niko is shooting 52 percent from inside the three point arc, yet he has still taken roughly 60 percent of his shots from beyond the three point line, converting only 28 percent of his attempts. Niko’s three point field goal percentage drops even lower to 21 percent when he shoots from the corner, which we all know that he loves to do.
Coupled with the poor shot selection, and poor field goal efficiency as a result, the Bulls rank 25th in the NBA in assists. Geez, lets see, we have poor ball movement, poor vision, poor shot selection and poor field goal efficiency as the results of those contributing factors. It’s no surprise that the Bulls are residing in the lower third of the league in scoring when you breakdown the numbers.
Can the Bulls improve their offensive efficiency and scoring ability with the current roster? I beleive so, there’s no reason why Jimmy Butler can’t drive to the hoop more frequently where he has great success scoring and/or getting to the fee-throw line and converting. There’s no reason why Niko can’t refrain from heaving triples from the corner where he is awful, and focus on shooting from the wings where he is more efficient. There’s no reason why Taj Gibson who is having a great season can’t get more looks at the basket either.
The short of it all is that Bulls Head Coach Fred Hoiberg needs to take a few hours and play around with some efficiency numbers and advanced statistics, and realize that his game plan is not putting his talent in line to succeed offensively, and make some changes to get guys where they need to be when they are attempting to score.