7 Scheme Adjustments the Chicago Bulls Should Implement Next Season
In order for the Chicago Bulls to have success next season, they must implement some adjustments on offense, defense and management.
When the Bulls had the ball, their offense was stagnant and somewhat forced at times. On defense, the Bulls could have used a few rotations that would have given them a key advantage.
Some of these adjustments are simple: moving a player to a different position or having player front on post defense rather than play a shade defender. There are other, not so obvious, adjustments necessary for the Bulls to implement in the upcoming season.
In a season with so much uncertainty, the Bulls need every advantage they can get. Here are seven adjustments the Bulls should implement in order to have any success next season.
7. Leave the Pick-and-Pop Offense to Create Isolation Plays
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On offense, the Bulls ran a ton of pick-and-pop along the elbows. What they must do is tone it down and run a standard, motion-based offense that can create some isolation opportunities for Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng.
The problem with running pick-and-pop plays is that you usually have your low-post players setting the screen. This leaves Boozer without the option of going to the lane for easier baskets.
When Boozer set the screen, his defender forced him to remain along the 16 to 18 foot area away from the basket. Rarely was Boozer ready for the incoming pass by Derrick Rose or C.J. Watson and often found himself out of position whenever the pass did come.
Going with a motion-based offense, the Bulls will be able to play to their strengths and Boozer will not see as many double-teams as he faced last season.
6. Taj Gibson Needs to Be Featured More in the Offense
Gibson's length (6’9”) makes him a matchup nightmare on both sides of the floor.
If you have seen Gibson fly in for a dunk, he is more athletic than many of us thought that he was coming out of college three seasons ago. The combination of his length and athleticism is frightening.
I do not understand why Bulls’ coach Tom Thibodeau does not run a variety of set post plays for him on offense.
Implementing this adjustment would help the Bulls in two ways. First, they can see what Gibson can bring to the table offensively. Second, it would help the Bulls decide what to do with Boozer whom they must decide if they will amnesty at the end of the season.
If Gibson becomes an established offensive force, that would help the Bulls decide.
5. Boozer Must Be the Focal Point of the Offense
The Bulls have to make Boozer the focal point on offense.
Boozer has good offensive skills that can be exploited. From his fadeaway jump shot to his nifty, left-handed post moves, Boozer is capable of scoring 24 points per game. He should be given the opportunity to become the Bulls' leading scorer with Derrick Rose out.
For those of you who have been clamoring for the Bulls to amnesty Boozer: save your breath. Does it really make sense to pay a person $30 million to play for another team? Not if you can make him the alpha dog of your offense and find a trade partner in the offseason instead.
There will be teams on the outside looking for a low post threat. Feature Boozer early and often and there will be a team that believes they can implement Boozer even better.
4. Thibodeau Must Loosen His Rigid Rotation
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Thibodeau has to allow more flexibility in his rotations. He is very rigid with how and when he uses his substitutions.
How many times did you feel that Jimmy Butler should have been in the game last year?
For me, I felt with the Bulls playing so many back-to-back games, Butler should have played early and often. With a new season on the horizon and so many new players, Thibodeau must be willing to alter his rotations according to their strengths.
For example: Marco Belinelli is a starter-quality player who will primarily come off the bench. He should get a heavy dose of minutes with not only the second team, but he also must have some playing time with the starters as well.
In addition, Thibodeau must ride with the hot hands now more than ever. He cannot sit players that can supply scoring just because their defense is not up to par.
3. Put Joakim Noah in the Post
The Bulls must play Joakim Noah in the post on offense and defense.
Noah has the strength to defend some of the NBA’s best post players. He should not be a help defender as often as he has been.
Standing straight up will allow Noah to be in position for more blocked shot and rebounds. It can also help him reserve some energy by keeping him from running on both sides of the paint as the lone defender.
On offense, Noah would have better scoring opportunities from camping in the lane. If used the proper way, Noah can be a reliable option on offense. Having him in the post is a good way to start.
2. Use Radmanovic as the Stretch 4
Vladimir Radmanovic’s signing may have been a way for the Bulls to fill up their roster but you cannot take him lightly. Radmanovic is problematic for opposing teams because when he's focused, he can do just about anything on the basketball court.
Radmanovic is not the best defender but he is a good rebounder and three-point shooter. The adjustment is using him as the stretch-4 element that was missing from the Bulls last season.
The Bulls did well with Kurt Thomas and Brad Miller as frontcourt players who stretched the floor. Both players created the same matchup nightmares that Radmanovic can.
1. The Bulls Must Change Their Philosophy by Doing Something Bold
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The biggest adjustment has nothing to do with the players or the game plan but their front office. Bulls’ management must adjust to the current state of the NBA regarding how they acquire talent.
Simply put, the Bulls need to take some risks.
After taking a few years to change the Bulls’ culture, VP of Basketball Operations, John Paxson, has not made any bold moves in the past few years.
One bold move would be breaking up the core of the team and trading for a star player. Another one could be bucking their trend with how they handle negotiations with coaches and making Thibodeau one of the highest-paid coaches in the NBA.
Either way, the Bulls have to think bold and do something drastic. It could make or break their season.