Breaking Down Tom Thibodeau's Go-to Plays for Chicago Bulls

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Breaking Down Tom Thibodeau's Go-to Plays for Chicago Bulls
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Over the prior two seasons, the Bulls offense was pretty simple. Give the ball to Derrick Rose, watch him penetrate—and either kick it out, take the shot, or get fouled and go to the stripe.

Without Rose, as expected, the Bulls offense is looking different in 2012-13.

Without Rose, the Bulls just don't have the kind of player who can penetrate now, and as a result they have had to adjust their offense to accommodate. One of the key differences is what the point guard does in the pick-and-roll. 

Where Rose would drive the ball inside, Kirk Hinrich doesn't have the speed to penetrate the way that Rose did, and Robinson does't have the size and strength to finish like Rose. As a result both Hinrich and Robinson do more of a quick pick-and-roll play. They will take a step away from the pick and deliver a quick shot as in the plays below. 

According to mySynergySports,com, the pick-and-roll accounts for 48 percent of the field goals Hinrich and Robinson have made combined. 

The shooting guards have a role too—in particular Richard Hamilton, who is excellent at creating space off screens. Hamilton tends to run around and force defenders to run through multiple screens. This inevitably gets him open, and when he is, he is quick to take the shot. Marco Belinelli is used in in similar fashion. 

Watch in the clips below how quickly Hamilton gets the ball off when it gets into his hand. He's an expert at utilizing screens. According to Synergy, when Hamilton is coming off the screen his field-goal percentage is .492, compared to .417 when he runs all other plays. This also accounts for 40 percent of his offense.

Luol Deng is the player the Bulls have remaining with the most ability to drive the lane, be it with or without the ball. He also has the ability to shoot from outside. The Bulls use screens to try to get him the ball, or else they deliver it to him cutting to the basket. On those two types of plays, he has an outstanding .647 field-goal percentage.

Watch first as he uses his size coming off screens to either step into defenders and back them down, or else step away from them and use his length to shoot over them. 

Now watch as he uses his size, speed and strength to slash to the rim without the ball and finish at the rim. On cut plays, Deng averages an elite-level 1.43 points per play, which stands as the fourth-best rate in the league, per Synergy. 

His increased activity at the rim has helped him to boost his shooting to .462, up 50 points from last season. 

The Bulls don't use Carlos Boozer at the rim that much. In fact he's only third on the team in field-goals at the rim, with 36, according to basketball-reference

They use him more in pick and pops, or in fronting up players for his high, arcing jumper. In the clips below, notice how the Bulls get him the ball in the pick-and-roll, or else he just posts opponents and knocks down the jump shot.

Unfortunately he's only knocking down 36.0 percent of his shots between three and 15 feet, which is significantly lower than the 45.7 percent he hit last year. Clearly, Boozer benefits from Rose drawing defenses away from him giving him open looks. 

Finally, Joakim Noah is being utilized offensively more this season than in years past. He's experiencing career highs in both usage rate (17.3 percent) and scoring (13.3 points per game). 

The Bulls have found exceptional success with Noah cutting to the rim and finishing, usually with a dunk. These types of plays account for 38 percent of Noah's points out of a set offense. 

As the Bulls find their roles and adjust to them, the Bulls offense has grown steadily more proficient. Over their last four games they've had an offensive rating of 107.9, a full five points better than their season average. As they adjust to their roles sans-Rose the offense is coming around. 

Certainly the just-announced torn patella for Hamilton is going to have a brief impact, but he should be back before long, and the Bulls offense will continue to make strides as the team finds it roles. 

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