Most Startling Statistics of the Chicago Bulls' Season so Far
As expected, there have been a few surprises so far. Some players have stepped up and risen to the challenge while others have seemed to wilt in the face of adversity.
So far, the Bulls have remained able to beat the bad teams of the NBA, including the Sacramento Kings and Orlando Magic, but have been less lucky against the likes of Boston and Oklahoma City. Still, the Bulls sit with a .500 record and are keeping the team in the running for a playoff spot while Rose is on the bench.
So what have been some of the biggest statistical surprises of the Chicago Bulls season thus far? Keep reading to find out.
5. Luol Deng's Shooting Percentage
Coming into the season, most people knew that Luol Deng was going to raise his scoring with Derrick Rose out. To his credit, Deng has done that by scoring 18.1 points per game, up from 15.3 points last season.
What has been surprising, however, is that Deng has been able to up his scoring 2.9 points per game while only shooting the ball 0.7 more times per game. He has been able to do this by shooting 47.6 percent from the field, up from 41.2 percent last season.
This drastic rise in shooting percentage is surprising because Luol Deng has become more of a focal point of the Bulls offense. Instead of becoming less efficient, without the open looks that one gets from playing next to Derrick Rose, Deng has actually gotten better as the offense's main weapon.
It will be interesting to see if he is able to continue to shoot the ball at such a high rate, but so far Luol Deng has surprised with his efficiency.
4. Carlos Boozer's Drop in Offense
Like Deng, Carlos Boozer was expected to be one of the biggest benefactors of the absence of Derrick Rose.
Last season, his 15 points per game were under his career average and well below the 17.5 per game he averaged with Chicago in 2010-11.
Instead of rising to the challenge, Boozer has continued to regress. He is now scoring only 13.3 points per game, making him only the fourth highest scorer for the Bulls, while shooting 44 percent from the field. For a reference point, Boozer has shot under 50 percent from the field only once in his career and shot 53.2 percent last season.
The huge drop in both points per game and shooting percentage has been one of the bigger surprises for the Chicago Bulls this season and makes the huge contract of Carlos Boozer that much more unlikable.
3. Rise in the Bulls Game Pace
One of the more interesting byproducts of the absence of Derrick Rose is a rise in the pace of play for the Chicago Bulls.
Pace is in reference to the amount of possessions that a team has both offensively and defensively per game and is something that the Bulls are generally low in.
Last season, the Bulls averaged 89.1 plays per game, good for the third-least in the NBA. That was down from 90.4 the season before, when the Bulls were the 23rd slowest team in the league.
This season, Chicago has run an average of 91.4 plays per game which is 20th in the NBA. While that is not incredibly fast, it is a pretty serious change and somewhat surprising, given that they are playing without their fastest player, Derrick Rose.
For some reason, Nate Robinson and Kirk Hinrich are running the Chicago Bulls much faster than Rose did, and unfortunately, it has not led to a rise in points per game for the Bulls offense.
2. The Offensive Explosion of Joakim Noah
Joakim Noah has never been considered an offensive threat, beyond grabbing a few offensive rebounds and making effort plays.
Now, however, Noah is averaging close to 15 points per game, second on the Bulls, while shooting a career-high 11.1 shots to go along with 4.7 free throws per game.
With the rise in points has come a drop in shooting percentage, from 50.8 percent last season to 49.5 percent this year. Yet, he has been able to shoot over 80 percent on his free throws.
Noah's offensive explosion can partly be explained by his increase in playing minutes, from 30.4 to 38.8 minutes per game, as well as the abundance of shots without Derrick Rose in the lineup.
Still, it is hard not to notice the increased skill that has come with Noah's offensive game.
1. A Drop in Defensive Prowess
The Chicago Bulls have been one of the NBA's stingiest defenses since the arrival of Tom Thibodeau. Last season they led the league in opponents points per game, rebounding and were second in defensive rating, a measure of the opponents points scored per 100 possessions.
This season the Bulls are still among the leagues best, but have suffered a noticeable drop. They are allowing 94.2 points per game, ninth lowest in the league, which is up from the measly 88.2 they allowed last season.
Similarly, their defensive rating has gone from 100.3 to 102.0 which is also good for ninth in the NBA. Finally, the Bulls have seen their rebounding differential drop significantly. Last season Chicago led the league with a plus-6.7, which has dropped to a plus-2.7, seventh in the league.
This drop in defense has been one of the most surprising for the Chicago Bulls. It can partly be attributed to the drop off that now exists defensively between Joakim Noah and his backup, Omer Asik, but it likely comes down to the absence of their floor general.
Either way, the Bulls are still one of the top defensive teams in the NBA, but have seen their stifling defense scored on more this season than anyone is used to.