The Chicago Bulls headed into this season with a lot of questions. After not making the playoffs, it was thought that they would go younger and let the team build around Jimmy Butler, whom they signed to a max contract the previous summer. But when the opportunities to pounce on signing veteran guards Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade presented themselves, the Bulls could not help themselves. And right then and there, the Bulls went from a team with little expectation to a team that was expected to make the playoffs and potentially make some noise there in the eyes of some. But the ultimate questions had to go along with how Rondo, Wade and Butler would all fit together. With the addition of Wade at shooting guard, Butler would have to slide to the small forward position. And with Wade and Rondo as the starting backcourt, the Bulls had one of the worst three-point shooting backcourts in the NBA. Add in that Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg decided to go with Taj Gibson in the Bulls' power forward competition and it was thought that the Bulls would be one of the worst shooting teams in the NBA. But as it sits two games in, the Bulls are actually 2-0 against the competition and are looking to make it 3-0 Monday versus the Brooklyn Nets. But with a team that has limited outside shooting, how are they getting this done so far?
One reason for the good offensive start for the Bulls is the quick acceleration of the basketball up the court. Last season, the Bulls had Derrick Rose as their point guard. And even though Rose is quick as a hiccup, he often did not push the ball up the floor. In Fred Hoiberg's offense, that is something that is not satisfactory. Not pushing the ball up the court allows the defense to get set and makes for a harder time scoring offensively. And it also allows for the secondary break to not work. With Rajon Rondo at the point, he has made it a point of emphasis to push the tempo even on misses. Rondo, along with Jimmy Butler, have pushed the ball up the court. And the more they are able to do that, the easier it is to get baskets on offense. It is still early in the season and things can change, but the tempo change is something that is welcomed for the Bulls and the way they want to run offense.
But along with the Bulls rushing the ball up the court, there are also other things that have changed this season. Last season, the Bulls could not shoot the basketball consistently behind the three-point line. They were missing Mike Dunleavy Jr. for most of the season and Nikola Mirotic was in a shooting slump until the end of the season. The only shooter that was hitting shots was Doug McDermott. But he was also giving up as many points as he was scoring on the defensive end. Needless to say, the spacing was not that great and the Bulls were not able to compensate for it last season. Coming into this season, the shooting isn't any better for this team. In fact, it is worse for the Bulls this year. But what they are doing this year instead of last year is moving without the basketball. You see guys like Taj Gibson flashing across the lane for easy baskets and guys like Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler making backcuts. Those are just a few examples of the added movement that has come with the Bulls offense this season. And so far, it has worked very well for them in beating the Celtics and Indiana Pacers to start the year.
The Bulls season is just underway this year and things can definitely change in a hurry. But for right now, the team looks to be in a better frame of mind and in tune more. The lack of long-distance shooting is something that will always be lurking over this team. But they are compensating for it right now with ball movement and pushing tempo. We shall see how long that lasts, but for right now, they are playing good, team basketball.