The Bulls have been quite the roller coaster team. Many thought they would be playing for a lottery pick when they lost Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah in the offseason. That is, until they signed Chicago native Dwyane Wade and All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo. Things seemed to look up for the team and many thought they would be competing with the Cavaliers for the Eastern Conference crown. Instead, the Bulls sit in 7th place in the Eastern Conference and are fighting to stay in the playoff race with competitive young teams like the Bucks and Hornets.
There are multiple problems with this Bulls team. The biggest problem, however, is the front office’s inability to draft talented players that pan out long term. In the past 10 years, only five out of the Bulls’ 20 picks are still with the team. Three of these picks have come from the past two drafts meaning from the 2007-2014 Drafts the Bulls have managed to hang onto just two players: Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson. Both are very solid players, but Taj has been a 6th man for most of his career while Jimmy has just broken out to stardom in the past year. When Wade and Rondo showed up, expectations for the team rose even higher. But so far, the team has not delivered.
In the 2015-2016 season, the Bulls had a fairly decent offense. Not surprisingly, the reason for their offensive success was the fact that despite attempting only the 24th most threes in the league last season, they hit 37% percent of them which was good for third best in the league. However, the Bulls were a notoriously poor midrange team. The Bulls attempted the second most two-pointers in the league yet hit at a clip of only 46 % landing them at second to last in the league at converting two-point shots.
By bringing in Wade, the Bulls committed even more to the two-point shot. Wade has hit 3’s only 28% of the time but 2’s just over 50% of the time throughout his career. Rondo is the same story, hitting 29% of his 3’s and 48% of his 2’s. Together, as two of the Bulls biggest signings and offensively-minded players, Wade and Rondo will hold onto the ball a majority of the team’s possessions, dictate the team’s offense, and keep them in the midrange realm.
Despite these acquisitions, the Bulls have not gotten any better. The team now sits at 29th in the league (second to last) in 3’s with a 31% make rate. The team has not improved on two-point shots either, sitting at second to last at just about 48%. The focus shifted from spreading the floor to heavy twos due to Rondo and Wade, putting the Bulls in a tough spot for the future.
Poor draft picks and old superstars have sunk the once-great team to just 7th in the Eastern Conference. Unfortunately, 7th place is just high enough to keep them out of the lottery and to hold them to yet another average first round pick. As a result, the Bull’s blundering front office won’t have a shot at the top notch talent which is much harder to mess up. Overall, this team looks like it’s headed for a rebuild within the next few years unless their young stars start to step up.
Sports Analytics and Business, Indiana University
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference
Image courtesy of Randy Belice/Getty Images