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Thursday, April 25, 2013

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for January and and February: 11. Chicago Bulls

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of February 28th):  33-25 (second place, Central Division)  



10
This Month:

11
Team Statistics and League Rank (as of February 28th)

  • Points Scored: 92.6 (28th)
  • Points Allowed: 91.3 (2nd)
  • Team FG%: .436 (24th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .433 (3rd)
  • Team FT%: .779 (9th)
  • Team Three Point FG%: .340 (25th)
  • Rebounds per game: 43.7 (6th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 41.0 (7th)
  • Turnovers per game: 14.8 (16th)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 14.0 (21st)


Individual Statistical Leaders (as of February 28th)

  • Scoring (ppg): Loul Deng (16.5)
  • Rebounds per game:  Joakim Noah (11.4)
  • Minutes per game:  Loul Deng (39.0)
  • Assists per game: Kirk Hinrich (5.4)
  • Field Goal Percentage: Taj Gibson (.489)
  • Free Throw Percentage:  Loul Deng (.820)
  • Three Point FG Percentage: Nate Robinson (.391)
  • Steals per game:  Joakim Noah (1.3)
  • Blocked Shots per game:  Joakim Noah (2.2)
Worst Player of the Month: Loul Deng


This was supposed to be the years where Loul Deng would finally step up from the shadows and be the dominant All Star force that many projected or hoped he would become.  Instead he still remains the same overrated player who plays big minutes and produces next to nothing.  Despite leading the league in minutes played, Deng still reamins largely inefficient with his time on the floor producing a rather paltry inefficiency rating of 15.12--quite low for a player that plays as much minutes as he does.  He continues to remain an enigma for Bulls fans as physically and athletically, he has the skills and abilities to become a superstar in this league, but chooses to not fully utilize them and remain nothing more than an overpaid and overhyped role player.  Deng has certainly been a disappointment to his team especially as they  needed to finally take his game up a notch, but has failed to deliver leaving Chicago to possibly reevaluate their relationship with this obvious disappointment
First Player of the Month: Jimmy Butler



Not many folks may know who this guys is, but Jimmy Butler has been a much more solid contributor at the small forward position than the player he backs up.  Unlike Loul Deng, Butler, who does not nearly match him in skills and bility, has performed much better than Deng when he is on the floor.  Unlike Deng who simply eats up minutes while he is on the floor, Butler  maximizes his time with the fewer minutes he receives showing how truly ineffective and possibly expendable that Loul Deng has become.  It was in January where Butler started to show his true potential jumping up from being a mere role player to a significant contributor as he bumped his scoring from just five points and two boards per game to 8.0 points and close to five boards per game by the end of February.  He has certainly played well enough to at least have Bulls GM John Paxson to at least contemplate letting go in one of his greatest disappointments in Loul Deng.

Analysis:

They have not been playing very spectacular thus far this season--in fact from a basketball standpoint, one can go as far to say that the Chicago Bulls have been downright agonizing to watch.  Although they continued to show they same toughness and effort as they play through the season without their star player Derrick Rose, the Bulls have been far from impressive as they have had to claw and scratch for every game they have won thus far.  They have remained still one of the most stingiest defensive teams in the league ranking amongst the best in the league in holding teams back offensively; however, when it comes to actually putting points up on the score board, it is another story.  Chicago currently ranks near the bottom in the league in points scored and field goal percentage and only narrow beat their opponents by just a scant +1.3 point margin.  Such a weak offensive output only goes to show that the Bulls are nowhere near to being any factor come the postseason.

Many sports media pundits have continually regurgitated the same old tired expression that "defense wins championships," which is correct to a certain extent. Defense only helps to win games when it is used as a catalyst forcing turnovers which will later lead to easy baskets such as the case with teams such as the Miami Heat, Los Angeles Clippers, and Oklahoma Thunder; however, that is far from the case when it comes to the Chicago Bulls.  Unlike those previous teams mentioned, defense for the Bulls is far from a catalyst, but more of a crutch holding a shaky team together.  Despite being able to hold teams on the defensive end, the Bulls have been completely inept when it comes to taking those defensive plays and converting them into scoring opportunities.  Defense is only as good to a team as the offense it later produces as a result and in the case of Chicago, regardless of all the effort given on the defensive end, if they cannot convert on the other end, all that effort is basically useless.

It is harsh to say, but it is true: if a team cannot score on their side of the floor, then what use is it to hold the other team back if they cannot capitalize on it.  Right now, Chicago has been lucky to have such an impressive record despite performing less than spectacular on the offensive end.  If one takes a closer look at their numbers and compare them to that of their opponents, they will see that both of their numbers are all but identical.  That means that with all the reputed defensive pressure that the Bulls push onto their opponents, they are essentially no better than they are as offensive they are just as awful as those who they defend.  In terms of shooting percentages, the Bulls only shoot just .003 better than that of their opponents and only show a +2.7 rebounding advantage despite raking among the top five teams in the league in rebounding thus making them look not nearly half as good as their record would suggest.

If there were a bad call here or there, a loose ball or basket that did not go their way, the Bulls may have well as be on the opposite side of spectrum as possibly been eight games under .500 rather than being eight games over .500.  It is only just a matter of time until that defensive crutch that has allowed that to scantly scrape by games will eventually buckle, break and have Chicago falling on the backsides.  It is also bad enough to see that despite all the defensive effort that the Bulls supposedly give that they only ranked near the bottom of the league in turnovers forced.  What is even worse then their sheer inability to force their opponents to turnover the ball is their sheer inability to hold onto the ball themselves as Chicago turnover the ball more than their opponents do.  All those factors together combined result in a recipe for disaster and all that is needed is just the slightest breeze to send this shaky house of cards crashing down. 

Despite the teams rather shaky foundation, there is still no doubt that Chicago Bulls will secure a high seed in the playoffs simply because not so much that they are better than other team behind them in the East, but simply that those teams are far worse than they are.  Once the playoffs start, all the Bulls' weakness will be completely exposed leading to their loyal fans being forced to watch their team have a quick and early exit out of the playoffs.  It does not matter who they play once the bracket have been decided, they Bulls are no way going anywhere past the first round as any team team that they face will not only beat the Bulls, but embarrass them at the same time.  The Bulls are only where they are now because Lady Luck has decided to bestow her good graces upon them and if it were not for that, the Bulls would not have the record or the placing as they currently have.  Sooner or later that team's luck is going to run out and when it does, it will turn out to become an EPIC disaster waiting to happen.