Breaking Down How the Chicago Bulls Can Create Offense with Defense
With Derrick Rose injured to start the season, the biggest question facing the Chicago Bulls is where they will get their offense from. One option is to try to use their tremendous defense to create offense.
It might come as a surprise that the Heat weren't any better than the Bulls in transition. They scored the exact same 13.4 transition points per game the Bulls did.
The truth is that transition points are not about having the high-flying athletic players. They come from getting down the court and hustling, pushing the ball and having players that fill the right roles.
The team that led the league in transition points didn't feature a single All-Star. That would be the Denver Nuggets, who scored an impressive 19.8 points per game in transition—a full 1.2 points more than any team in the NBA.
The Nuggets do it in different ways, but primarily there are three different players who take three different roles, and together they utilize those roles to generate a ton of fast-break points.
The first key that is noticeable is that they like to leak out Kenneth Faried, who is as athletic as he is strong. When Faried sees the ball is going to change possession, he starts charging down the court.
Here are a few examples. First, here's Danilo Gallinari, who actually runs too far under the basket, but the hard-charging Faried is there to convert.
Now take a look as everyone is doing the typical jog upcourt, but Faried once again lopes past everyone and Ty Lawson finds him for the easy layup. Note that this is not a points off of a turnover situation—it was just Faried taking advantage of the fact that everyone was taking their time getting down the court.
So the question for the Bulls is: Do they have anyone on their roster who can duplicate what Faried does? I'll answer that question with a question. Does anyone know how to post videos to Facebook?
Note how Taj Gibson has the exact same qualities that Faried has. He doesn't have the purest jump shot in the world, but he's fast, he's strong and he hustles. He has a high basketball IQ and quick recognition of when the ball is going to exchange hands.
Another player the Nuggets like to utilize in transition is Al Harrington, who averaged an extremely impressive 1.34 points per play in transition last season. The following video is a recap of Game 7 of the Nuggets' series against the Lakers last postseason, but skip ahead to the 2:00 minute mark.
Gallinari gets the ball at the three-point line and passes it off to Harrington, who could either stop behind the three-point line and put up an uncontested shot or he could charge hard to the rim. He opts for the second option on this occasion but was not afraid to take the three either.
In fact, in transition, Harrington shot .502 from deep last season. Taking an unguarded three when you have numbers is a smart play. Your team has the rebounding edge, and you stand to gain an extra point. Here the Nuggets didn't have numbers, so Harrington went hard to the basket.
The Bulls have a player who can take the role Harrington does for the Nuggets in Luol Deng. He's excellent cutting to the basket and, according to Synergy, is 42-of-84 from deep in transition over the last two seasons.
Finally the Nuggets have their catalyst in the diminutive but speedy Ty Lawson. He leads the fast breaks and often finishes them. In fact, based on numbers provided by Synergy, 28 percent of Ty Lawson's field goals last season came in transition. Furthermore Lawson shot 62.1 percent on transition attempts.
Earlier we saw him find his teammate, Faried, for the easy bucket, but here watch him just take it to the hole himself.
The Bulls might not have Ty Lawson, but they do have a player who can push the fast break to say the least: Nate Robinson. Take a look at a few of his dunks in this video for evidence—in particular No. 5.
The Bulls don't have the kind of superstar talent that Derrick Rose provides until he returns, but they have plenty of solid talent. Tom Thibodeau can take a page from George Karl's playbook to help pick up the slack on offense.
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