5 New Year's Resolutions for the Chicago Bulls
The Chicago Bulls stand at 15-12 and have done so with a great defense and great hustle on the boards. However, the Bulls' offense is one of the worst in the league, ranking 26th in points per game with 92.9.
That's where the Bulls' focus should be as we prepare to bring in the new year. Perhaps making some changes to their rotations, lineups and/or gameplan will lead to a higher-scoring offense.
The Bulls have hit a two-game skid after losing to the Atlanta Hawks and the Houston Rockets, two of the tougher teams in each conference. After such lackluster performances, the Bulls will try to bounce back in a big way, and maybe trying something new will help them do so.
As the new year approaches, the Bulls should be looking to start off 2013 on a strong note.
Here are five New Year's resolutions the Bulls should make.
Note: All stats are as of December 26, 2012 before games were played.
Keep Nate Robinson
As Chicago's best scorer off the bench with 11.4 points per game, the Bulls would be making a huge mistake by letting go of Robinson. He not only provides scoring, but his energy on the court is contagious and it can get the rest of the team fired up.
He's also one of the team's best three-point shooters, something Chicago doesn't do very well.
While Robinson can be a bit erratic, his scoring cannot be lost. With Richard Hamilton still nursing an injury, forcing Marco Bellineli into the starting lineup, Robinson's spot on the team is much needed as he provides the best scoring option in Chicago's second unit.
Lower the Starters' Minutes
Chicago's bench has taken a hit with Belinelli having to replace Hamilton, so it's understandable why the bench doesn't see a lot of action. However, there are still 55 games left in the season, so it would be in the team's best interest to not wear out their two best players.
On the Bulls' Christmas Day game against the Rockets, ESPN reported that Deng had sprained his ankle in the first quarter and continued to play the rest of the game with the injury.
The Bulls have a lot of talent on their bench. Jimmy Butler is starting to show flashes of what he can do offensively; his great athleticism and solid mid-range jumper could provide some solid scoring for the Bulls.
Taj Gibson has been nursing an ankle injury, which would explain any drop in minutes, but he's an established player and is a decent replacement for Noah as he's a great rebounder and defender.
Then there's the rookie Marquis Teague, which brings me to my next point.
Further Develop Marquis Teague
With Kirk Hinrich's continuing offensive struggles, Marquis Teague could be in line to get extended minutes. He's shown flashes of his potential to become a real threat, scoring eight points in each of the last three games where he played more than 16 minutes.
He's been successful in attacking the basket and has shown a decent mid-range jumper. With some more minutes and in-game experience, Teague could prove to be the steal that many think the Bulls got this past draft.
All Teague needs is more time on the court. Once he's able to run the offense well and make good decisions with the ball, he will be more than capable of playing significant minutes.
When Derrick Rose returns, Teague could turn into the back-up guard the Bulls have been searching for.
Bring Rip off the Bench
Since Marco Belinelli became the starter earlier in December, he has averaged 15.3 points per game. Both him and Hamilton bring a similar offensive style, so Tom Thibodeau might choose to ride the hot hand and ease Rip back into the lineup by having him come off the bench.
At 6'7", Rip has a size advantage over most guards that have the task of guarding him. Rip still has a lot of basketball left in him, so bringing him off the bench would allow him to dominate most backup guards that have to defend him.
He would provide the second unit with a big scoring boost as he can score 15-20 points on any given night.
Having Rip come off the bench could also be a way to keep him healthy, as he's the most injury-prone player on the team.
Shoot the Three
The Bulls are the last-ranked team in three-point shots attempted and made, while shooting a mediocre 34.5 percent from behind the arc.
Chicago has a good number of solid three-point shooters, though. Belinelli, Hamilton, Robinson and Hinrich all have a three-point shooting percentage at or above 35 percent.
Luol Deng has usually shot it at around that same mark, but this year his long-range game has seen some inconsistency. Still, he remains a good option to go to outside the perimeter.
With just 13 three-point attempts per game, the Bulls might want to take some more chances from downtown. It could give them a new option offensively, as there are times when the Bulls can't seem to get anything going with their usual sets.