Who should be the Bulls' fourth-quarter go-to guy until Derrick Rose returns? It seems to be a question the Bulls fans, and the Bulls themselves, are struggling to answer.
Without Derrick Rose the Chicago Bulls seem to struggle their way through clutch situations, nary scoring a point, and muddling through more with their offense than their defense. Sometimes perception can be distorted, though.
While the Bulls have no one player who can score in the clutch, they've been more successful as a team than you'd think.
That's not to say they're one of the elite teams in the league in clutch scoring (defined as the scoring margin being within five points and fewer than five minutes left in the game), but they are 10th with 102.0. They are a plus-16.4 points per 48 minutes, ranked eighth in the NBA.
The Bulls have achieved their success in spite of having virtually no one that is a legitimate scoring threat in the clutch. In fact, even adjusted per 36 minutes, their best clutch scorer, Richard Hamilton, only ranks 22nd in the NBA among players with at least 30 minutes played.
So how are the Bulls playing so well in the clutch without a go-to scorer? There are a few reasons why.
First, the Bulls don't depend on one scorer because they don't have "one scorer," but they do have a diversity of scorers that get the job done. Here are the Bulls with at least 30 minutes of clutch-time stats and where they place in the NBA in scoring.
With Hamilton, Deng, Belinelli, Robinson and Boozer all in the top 50, the Bulls are the only team in the NBA with five players in the top 50, which compensates for not having any in the top 20.
The Bulls are also seventh in the NBA in clutch-time assists per 48 minutes, which is interesting because their leader in assists in the clutch is their center, Joakim Noah, at 6.5.
The reason the Bulls do so well is that they play as a team. They pass the ball as a team and share the ball. They score as a team.
Another thing they do well is draw fouls more than they foul. Notice how many of the players draw more fouls than they commit. Only Robinson and Gibson commit more fouls than they draw. The Bulls rank seventh in foul differential, drawing 4.6 more fouls than they commit.
This corresponds with more free throws. They are sixth in free throws made and shoot a reasonable 76 percent.
Additionally, they are second in the NBA in offensive rebounding with 19.1 per 48 clutch-time minutes. Carlos Boozer, by himself, averages 7.5. That's more than four entire NBA teams, including the Miami Heat (7.4), the Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Lakers (6.5) or the Dallas Mavericks (6.3).
The Bulls, as a result, have a 8.2 edge in second-chance points in the clutch, the second-best margin in the NBA.
Finally, they take care of the ball and get a lot of steals. They have a 9.6-point advantage in clutch points off of turnovers.
Through sharing the ball, diversifying their scoring, grabbing their misses, monopolizing the ball and getting to the stripe, the Bulls actually have an offense that ranks 11th in the NBA in offensive rating during the clutch.
Which leads us to an answer to the question, "Who should be the Bulls fourth-quarter go-to guy until Derrick Rose returns?"
The answer is yes. They all should. They don't have a player who can go one-on-five and win without Rose, so they shouldn't try to force it, but continue to do what works.
All statistics used in this article are pace adjusted, per 48 minute stats and obtained from NBA.com/Stats.
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