Sports: Chicago Bulls Season Prediction
9/3/2016 by Dominic Hebert
The Chicago Bulls parted with their hometown hero in Derrick Rose during the summer and went on to acquire both Dwyane Wade (Chicago native) and Rajon Rondo. Just looking at their three most well-known players in Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade, and Rajon Rondo, the casual fan may surmise that this will be a very good team. However, the skillsets of each player reveal the chemistry issues that will arise immediately.
Rondo is a supreme passer when focused, but he is prone to turnovers as he holds the ball far too long and routinely attempts very risky assists. The most troubling thing is his lack of range. Although he shot 36.5% on three-pointers last season, which is well above his career average of 28.9%, it came on 2.4 attempts per game. Defenders will continue to sag off of him which will make life difficult for others on the team. We’ve seen this still go well for other point guards that lack a consistent shooting touch, but their starting shooting guard lacks range as well.
Dwyane Wade is 34 years-old and well past his prime. One of his knees needs to be drained routinely and he has lost a step. Explosion and craftiness were what made him so effective for years and the presence of a point guard with a deep stroke left him space for his midrange jumpers. Without that, teams that communicate well on defense can simply force him up top with a quick double-team. Wade also has ball-stopping tendencies which are probably a result of him becoming top dog again in Miami after LeBron’s departure. However, he has already said that the Bulls are Jimmy Butler’s team. Rondo needs to understand that as well and both of these players need to modify their skillsets in order to be more effective in Fred Hoiberg’s offense.
Wade shot an atrocious 15.9% from three last season. That is by far the worst he has shot beyond 24 feet in his career, however he only attempted one every two games. Both he and Rondo will need to work on their spot-up threes otherwise Butler is going to have a tough time creating looks for himself. Even though Jimmy was just 31% from deep last season, he did get injured and played much worse as a result in the latter half. He rediscovered his shooting touch with Team USA as they captured gold and had the opportunity to learn to play even better off-ball.
Fred Hoiberg is likely losing sleep trying to think up effective lineups. A starting lineup of Rondo-Wade-Butler-McDermott-Lopez will have the tiniest slivers of space against elite defenses. Swapping in Mirotić for McDermott gives them a crafting ball-handling big and potentially better ball-movement, but McDermott’s shooting touch makes him more valuable. He only got off 3 threes per game, but will definitely see those attempts nearly double in the middle of the season which is when I expect the rotation to be set and everyone realizing that without him there is too little shooting on the roster to top probably 95ppg.
The PnR (pick-n-roll) is the most-used play in basketball. Its effectiveness depends on the shooting/finishing ability of both players. Stephen Curry or Damian Lillard getting a screen from a traditional big will usually result in a double-team on the point guard due to their lethal shooting touches and an opening for another player to score. For example, if a traditional center like Festus Ezeli screens and then rolls to the hoop he may get a dunk, but if that in turn forces a rotation usually a shooting guard and/or small forward will be open for a 3 in the corners. If a stretch-4 (for casual fans, that is a power forward with long range) sets the screen and then pops out, it forces a switch which could leave the opposition at a disadvantage almost no matter who is handling. Both Wade and Rondo rely on these plays to score so McDermott will be the key to success whether setting and popping out or spotting up. I am not a General Manager or qualified to work in a front office. I don’t want to undermine their decision to snatch Wade and Rondo, but from my perspective those two in the backcourt severely limit Hoiberg’s playbook.
There are few, if any, ways to determine if these players have chemistry until getting a strong sample size to analyze, but on paper this team will find be grinding all season and working extremely hard for each win. Their top players will have big games which will make us believe they can give Cleveland problems in the playoffs, but those hopes will be dashed when their paths actually cross during the season (10/4, 12/2, 1/4, 2/25). I predict that they will be a lower seed in the East and will be ousted in the second round as long as they miss the Cavs in the first.
Dominic Hebert is the Chief Sports Editor at CSuiteMusic