What Is The Bulls Achilles Heal?

Half way through the NBA season, we can be pretty sure that the Chicago Bulls are a slightly below average team. They sit in the 9th spot of the weak Eastern Conference and are getting outscored by 4.7 points per game, which is 4th worst in basketball. The offense has been the weak point this season, averaging 92.7 points per game, only better than the 91.6 of the injury plagued Detroit Pistons.

Lets quickly figure out the source of the scoring differential between the Bulls and their opponents. In simplest terms, the offense tries to score points and the defense tries to prevent them. Hence the point differential. I recently described that there are only 3 ways to score in the NBA, so which of these 3 is the source of the Bulls struggles.

1) Take more shots than your opponents, or shoot a higher percentage to make more shots. The Bulls are being out-shot by less than 1 attempt per game, which is minimal, and are shooting 1% less from the field than their opponents, which only equates to 1 extra shot made per 100 attempts. Neither of these are significant enough to make up a 4.7 point differential.

2) Make more 3 point shots as they are worth 50% more than a regular field goal. The difference in the 3-pt field goal percentage is 0.1% between the Bulls and their opponents. Thats 1 extra made every thousand chances. Completely irrelevant. However, the opponents have made 251 out of 750 attempts, while the Bulls have made just 129 out of 386 attempts. Thats 122 more trifectas over the course of 35 games. Thats appoximately 3.5 more 3-pointers per game, equaling an extra 3.5 points for the opposition. Obviously, the Bulls miss those 2.1 3-pointers Ben Gordon averaged last year. Also, they shot and unrealistically high 38% from the arc last year, which has regressed back to a respectable 33% this year. Their lack of a 3-point shooter may be the difference between getting into the playoffs and not.

3) Take more free throw attempts per game, which will lead to more "free points". The Bulls have been out-shot by only 21 free throws this season, just over half a free throw per game. This figure is insignificant in the big picture.

Hopefully it is now clear that the main macroscopic issue of the Bulls offense this season is the 3-point shot. I would recommend that instead of that stupid 20 footer Loul Deng loves to take, he should take a step back and throw up some 3's. Same risk, 50% more reward.