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Chicago Bulls Defense Breakdown

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Chicago Bulls Defense Breakdown 

Post#1 » by PaKii94 » Sun Jul 19, 2020 1:30 am

Thought I'd share this here. Reddit usually is a cesspool but this is a good breakdown with some video example of the defense:

https://reddit.app.link/5ncNWghFe8

I think in theory the defense can work in bursts to disrupt the opposing teams rhythm but it can't work the full game
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Re: Chicago Bulls Defense Breakdown 

Post#2 » by coldfish » Sun Jul 19, 2020 11:54 am

To a large degree, its a gimmick defense that is going to be most effective in spurts. If you play it all game long and the opposing team knows it is coming, they can get really good looks with regularity.

The Bulls' primary problem is that Lavine and Lauri are bad off ball defenders. Coming up with a scheme that will work with them on the court a lot is impossible. Coaches are put in a position where they have to choose the least bad situation. You can cover for one bad defender. Its really hard to cover for multiple ones.
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Re: Chicago Bulls Defense Breakdown 

Post#3 » by MikeDC » Sun Jul 19, 2020 1:46 pm

Good stuff. The Bulls defense was basically a sham. When I talked about the offense, I gave the analogy of the Bulls refusing to play in the mid-range like someone just refusing on principle to play Paper in Rock-Paper-Scissors.

The defense was like deciding to play Rock all the time. good old Rock! Nothing beats Rock. Except that it lost over and over again. Their defense wasn’t good. At all. Not in the meaningful sense that it stopped the other team from scoring.

As with the offense this came from a ham fisted understanding of what wins. The Bulls didn’t actually try to play the best defense, they tried to generate the most turnovers possible. Just like with their stupid offensive strategy, reaching this goal came at the expense of sound defense in every other respect.

Gimmick is an appropriate word.
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Re: Chicago Bulls Defense Breakdown 

Post#4 » by MikeDC » Sun Jul 19, 2020 5:20 pm

To make this concrete, it's really worth thinking about how the statistical numbers we see reflect strategic trade-offs we see on the court.

It's worth noting that when we evaluate draft prospects, we often look at guys and wonder whether they're "gambling for steals". The idea is that sometimes players look like good defenders statistically because they generate a lot of steals. But, in fact, they're bad defenders, because they're playing to their own personal numbers (get a bunch of steals) rather than making a sound defensive play. Because in a lot of cases, there's a trade-off to going for a steal. It can put you out of position so the opponent gets an easy shot, or you can't get a rebound. Or, you just end up committing a foul and giving the opponent free throws.

What's really amazing is that this phenomenon, which we rightly dismiss as a kind of bad defense, was actually the strategy Boylen unwaveringly employed. And thus, while the Bulls were 1st in the league at creating turnovers, it came at the cost of being 26th in opponent field goal percentage, 26th in defensive rebounding, and 30th in opponent free throw rate.


Each of these problems were much bigger than the benefit of being first in generating turnovers, and explained why, despite these superficial numbers, the Bulls never seemed able to get stops against an engaged opponent.

I can't stress this enough, but this isn't evidence of good coaching. It's not even evidence of good "assistant coaching". Assistant coaches know, or should know, that if you constantly only employ one strategy, the opponent is going to react to it. Fundamentally, playing the simplistic way the Bulls did isn't just bad coaching, it's a complete refusal to coach.
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Re: Chicago Bulls Defense Breakdown 

Post#5 » by Leslie Forman » Mon Jul 20, 2020 5:10 pm

MikeDC wrote:What's really amazing is that this phenomenon, which we rightly dismiss as a kind of bad defense, was actually the strategy Boylen unwaveringly employed. And thus, while the Bulls were 1st in the league at creating turnovers, it came at the cost of being 26th in opponent field goal percentage, 26th in defensive rebounding, and 30th in opponent free throw rate.

Points are points. However you get and/or prevent them doesn't matter. People thought shooting all those threes was bad basketball too, once.

Now if you think a more "normal" defensive strategy with this heavily flawed roster could somehow also end up in the 13th-ranked defense in the league, well…you're free to believe that. The previous few seasons before this one would seem to strongly disagree with that notion, however.

Would this scheme work against, say, the Bucks in a seven game series? Of course not. But that's like complaining that some supermodel's elbows are too pointy when you look like Sam Cassell.
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Re: Chicago Bulls Defense Breakdown 

Post#6 » by FriedRise » Mon Jul 20, 2020 5:42 pm

The defense generated a ton of turnovers and FGA disparity for the Bulls, but it just wasn't working. We lost plenty of games where our opponent got fewer than 20 shots than us, but they were getting such good looks once they adjusted that their FG% was high and they can still score more points at the end. Usually it'd happen at half time, but sometimes coaches would adjust as soon as the 2nd quarter.

The story was always how we'd catch opponents by surprise, then they adjusted, but we kept doing the same thing over and over and ended up giving them open looks, dunks, and defensive rebounding because guys were always out of position.
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Re: Chicago Bulls Defense Breakdown 

Post#7 » by MikeDC » Mon Jul 20, 2020 5:51 pm

Leslie Forman wrote:
MikeDC wrote:What's really amazing is that this phenomenon, which we rightly dismiss as a kind of bad defense, was actually the strategy Boylen unwaveringly employed. And thus, while the Bulls were 1st in the league at creating turnovers, it came at the cost of being 26th in opponent field goal percentage, 26th in defensive rebounding, and 30th in opponent free throw rate.

Points are points. However you get and/or prevent them doesn't matter. People thought shooting all those threes was bad basketball too, once.


A team that's in the bottom of the league in 3 of the four key defensive determinants is not a good defensive team.

Now if you think a more "normal" defensive strategy with this heavily flawed roster could somehow also end up in the 13th-ranked defense in the league, well…you're free to believe that. The previous few seasons before this one would seem to strongly disagree with that notion, however.


I absolutely think a more normal defensive strategy would have gotten similar or better results holding personnel constant. Using guys like Kornet and Lauri to blitz was a travesty. When you're looking at defense, hold players constant.

The Bulls this year primarily improved because they spent a lot of time (for the first time in several years) with a relatively consistent lineup with 4 / 5 players being neutral to plus defenders (Sato, Dunn, Young, Carter, plus Lavine who is not). That moved them from a bad defensive team to an averageish one.

Would this scheme work against, say, the Bucks in a seven game series? Of course not. But that's like complaining that some supermodel's elbows are too pointy when you look like Sam Cassell.


The bigger problem is this scheme didn't even work against bad teams in the regular season. We all know there's a lot of garbage time in an NBA season, and when it mattered, opponents when through the Bulls like a knife through hot butter.

To see this point, look at the Clutch stats for the Bulls. They ran a garbage time defense.

In close situations, the Bulls opponent TOV% dropped to 14th from 1th. They ran up meaningless numbers in meaningless situations. In close situations, the opponent EFG Rebound, and FTRates stayed bad (28th, 30th, and 22nd, respectively).

The claim that they were a good or even average defensive team is basically smoke and mirrors.
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Re: Chicago Bulls Defense Breakdown 

Post#8 » by dougthonus » Mon Jul 20, 2020 6:23 pm

MikeDC wrote:The claim that they were a good or even average defensive team is basically smoke and mirrors.


:dontknow:

The Bulls were 14th in Defensive Rating which is quite simply points allowed per 100 possessions. The outcome of their defense, accounting for everything good and bad in a pace adjusted per possession stat was average, better than 16 teams, worse than 13 teams. If you take a +/- 2 points on it, only 5 teams were 2 or more points better while 11 teams were 2 or more points worse.

The Bulls SOS shows that they're -.73 vs a typical schedule, if you applied the whole SOS benefit to defense (realistically it should probably be half defense/half offense) then the Bulls would be ranked 16th instead of 14th in defense.

The total result of their defense appears to be that they were an average defense unless you think think that there is a better method of measuring defense than schedule regressed, pace adjusted, points allowed per possession.

Agree that the defense was a lot of smoke and mirrors, but in a totally different way than you. They used enough smoke and mirrors to on the whole be average with defensive personnel that was on the whole pretty far below average.
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Re: Chicago Bulls Defense Breakdown 

Post#9 » by MikeDC » Mon Jul 20, 2020 6:24 pm

keep on with the Clutch numbers for a minute. The Bulls defense was 13th in DRtg in general, but if you limit it to clutch minutes, their defense was 30th! Dead last. This is pretty much the opposite of the best defensive teams. Like, the Bucks, Thunder, Lakers, Sixers, Pacers, and even most other teams were pretty consistent. Because, well, they were good defensive teams employing good defensive concepts.

The Bulls were an average at best defensive team that employed terribly flawed concepts that were routinely exploited.
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Re: Chicago Bulls Defense Breakdown 

Post#10 » by dougthonus » Mon Jul 20, 2020 6:31 pm

MikeDC wrote:keep on with the Clutch numbers for a minute. The Bulls defense was 13th in DRtg in general, but if you limit it to clutch minutes, their defense was 30th! Dead last. This is pretty much the opposite of the best defensive teams. Like, the Bucks, Thunder, Lakers, Sixers, Pacers, and even most other teams were pretty consistent. Because, well, they were good defensive teams employing good defensive concepts.

The Bulls were an average at best defensive team that employed terribly flawed concepts that were routinely exploited.


I show the Bulls as 16th in points allowed in the clutch unless I'm reading it wrong.

https://stats.nba.com/teams/clutch-opponent/?sort=OPP_PTS&dir=-1

Though to be fair, I'm not sure that is pace adjusted, and there might be a better stat somewhere else.
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Re: Chicago Bulls Defense Breakdown 

Post#11 » by MikeDC » Mon Jul 20, 2020 6:36 pm

dougthonus wrote:
MikeDC wrote:The claim that they were a good or even average defensive team is basically smoke and mirrors.


:dontknow:

The Bulls were 14th in Defensive Rating which is quite simply points allowed per 100 possessions. The outcome of their defense, accounting for everything good and bad in a pace adjusted per possession stat was average, better than 16 teams, worse than 13 teams. If you take a +/- 2 points on it, only 5 teams were 2 or more points better while 11 teams were 2 or more points worse.

The Bulls SOS shows that they're -.73 vs a typical schedule, if you applied the whole SOS benefit to defense (realistically it should probably be half defense/half offense) then the Bulls would be ranked 16th instead of 14th in defense.

The total result of their defense appears to be that they were an average defense unless you think think that there is a better method of measuring defense than schedule regressed, pace adjusted, points allowed per possession.


I mean, I just explained a rationale and cited sources to support it, so you could respond to that instead of cutting it out of the quote and then whinging about what methodology.


The bigger problem is this scheme didn't even work against bad teams in the regular season. We all know there's a lot of garbage time in an NBA season, and when it mattered, opponents when through the Bulls like a knife through hot butter.


That's a testable assumption and the answer is that when the game was close, the Bulls had the worst defense in the league by the measure you guys are citing. Generally the Bulls were a garbage time defense.
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Re: Chicago Bulls Defense Breakdown 

Post#12 » by MikeDC » Mon Jul 20, 2020 6:38 pm

dougthonus wrote:
MikeDC wrote:keep on with the Clutch numbers for a minute. The Bulls defense was 13th in DRtg in general, but if you limit it to clutch minutes, their defense was 30th! Dead last. This is pretty much the opposite of the best defensive teams. Like, the Bucks, Thunder, Lakers, Sixers, Pacers, and even most other teams were pretty consistent. Because, well, they were good defensive teams employing good defensive concepts.

The Bulls were an average at best defensive team that employed terribly flawed concepts that were routinely exploited.


I show the Bulls as 16th in points allowed in the clutch unless I'm reading it wrong.

https://stats.nba.com/teams/clutch-opponent/?sort=OPP_PTS&dir=-1

Though to be fair, I'm not sure that is pace adjusted, and there might be a better stat somewhere else.


You're reading it wrong.
Teams -> Clutch -> Advanced gives you DRtg in clutch time.
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Re: Chicago Bulls Defense Breakdown 

Post#13 » by dougthonus » Mon Jul 20, 2020 6:45 pm

MikeDC wrote:You're reading it wrong.
Teams -> Clutch -> Advanced gives you DRtg in clutch time.


Thanks, I appreciate it, there are so many views, I went through them all and didn't see that column.
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Re: Chicago Bulls Defense Breakdown 

Post#14 » by dougthonus » Mon Jul 20, 2020 6:47 pm

MikeDC wrote:I mean, I just explained a rationale and cited sources to support it, so you could respond to that instead of cutting it out of the quote and then whinging about what methodology.


The bigger problem is this scheme didn't even work against bad teams in the regular season. We all know there's a lot of garbage time in an NBA season, and when it mattered, opponents when through the Bulls like a knife through hot butter.


That's a testable assumption and the answer is that when the game was close, the Bulls had the worst defense in the league by the measure you guys are citing. Generally the Bulls were a garbage time defense.


I think the Bulls defensive personnel was very ill suited for clutch time defense, because typically they have at least three really bad defenders on the floor and often four. I think it's amazing they could find enough smoke and mirrors to be average on the whole to be honest.
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Re: Chicago Bulls Defense Breakdown 

Post#15 » by PaKii94 » Mon Jul 20, 2020 7:33 pm

dougthonus wrote:
MikeDC wrote:I mean, I just explained a rationale and cited sources to support it, so you could respond to that instead of cutting it out of the quote and then whinging about what methodology.


The bigger problem is this scheme didn't even work against bad teams in the regular season. We all know there's a lot of garbage time in an NBA season, and when it mattered, opponents when through the Bulls like a knife through hot butter.


That's a testable assumption and the answer is that when the game was close, the Bulls had the worst defense in the league by the measure you guys are citing. Generally the Bulls were a garbage time defense.


I think the Bulls defensive personnel was very ill suited for clutch time defense, because typically they have at least three really bad defenders on the floor and often four. I think it's amazing they could find enough smoke and mirrors to be average on the whole to be honest.


Bulls defense is another thing where the overall numbers don't paint the right picture. The defense was pretty bimodal. When they were locked in, the defense was great (near top of the league great). In my rewatching there was great defense in bursts against top teams. That's how the bulls built leads and were competitive (they were up 20 on a healthy Lakers)

but then when the opponents adjusted, compounded with defensive lapses snowballed with bad stagnant offensive possessions lead to bottom of the league defense by the end of the game time and time again. So half the time they played great (usually first half) then the defense fell off a cliff to the bottom (usually a meltdown in the second half) what does that average out to? In the middle i.e. 13-16

That explains the top of the league in turnovers, middle of the pack overall rating, and the bad clutch rating
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Re: Chicago Bulls Defense Breakdown 

Post#16 » by FriedRise » Mon Jul 20, 2020 7:43 pm

I realize that we only have the numbers for the games that were played, but if I'm remembering correctly, the last stretch of games were supposed to be primarily against playoff teams which would've sunk our defensive ratings even more. We played a lot of bad teams in the first half of the season while going 2-23 vs above .500 teams.

If it weren't due to Covid, no way we would've finished the season as just an average defensive team.
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Re: Chicago Bulls Defense Breakdown 

Post#17 » by sco » Mon Jul 20, 2020 7:44 pm

I think that our defense can be materially better than it was if we have a season with a healthy Otto, WCJ, Gafford, Hutch on the floor.
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Re: Chicago Bulls Defense Breakdown 

Post#18 » by MikeDC » Mon Jul 20, 2020 8:12 pm

PaKii94 wrote:
dougthonus wrote:
MikeDC wrote:I mean, I just explained a rationale and cited sources to support it, so you could respond to that instead of cutting it out of the quote and then whinging about what methodology.


The bigger problem is this scheme didn't even work against bad teams in the regular season. We all know there's a lot of garbage time in an NBA season, and when it mattered, opponents when through the Bulls like a knife through hot butter.


That's a testable assumption and the answer is that when the game was close, the Bulls had the worst defense in the league by the measure you guys are citing. Generally the Bulls were a garbage time defense.


I think the Bulls defensive personnel was very ill suited for clutch time defense, because typically they have at least three really bad defenders on the floor and often four. I think it's amazing they could find enough smoke and mirrors to be average on the whole to be honest.


Bulls defense is another thing where the overall numbers don't paint the right picture. The defense was pretty bimodal. When they were locked in, the defense was great (near top of the league great). In my rewatching there was great defense in bursts against top teams. That's how the bulls built leads and were competitive (they were up 20 on a healthy Lakers)

but then when the opponents adjusted, compounded with defensive lapses snowballed with bad stagnant offensive possessions lead to bottom of the league defense by the end of the game time and time again. So half the time they played great (usually first half) then the defense fell off a cliff to the bottom (usually a meltdown in the second half) what does that average out to? In the middle i.e. 13-16

That explains the top of the league in turnovers, middle of the pack overall rating, and the bad clutch rating


I think it wasn't just that the personnel was poorly suited, but that the defense itself was poorly suited.

I keep going back to the rock-paper-scissors analogy because it's both simple and accurate. If you always play rock, you will occasionally win because your opponent will simply not believe that you're always going to play rock. That doesn't make it effective though.

It's not that playing that aggressive, blitzing defense is per se bad, but if that's all you do, the only look you have, then it's bad. It's just flat out not the right defense to be playing all the time. And really, the Bulls had personnel to be doing different things. Watching Kornet play last year in New York, he actually wasn't trash defending the rim. Neither is Carter. They (and everyone else) are stronger rebounders than they showed last year because the defense called for them to be showing and switching like crazy.

Maybe I'm wrong, but it actually seemed to be playing awayfrom their strengths a lot of the time.
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Re: Chicago Bulls Defense Breakdown 

Post#19 » by dougthonus » Mon Jul 20, 2020 8:40 pm

MikeDC wrote:I think it wasn't just that the personnel was poorly suited, but that the defense itself was poorly suited.

I keep going back to the rock-paper-scissors analogy because it's both simple and accurate. If you always play rock, you will occasionally win because your opponent will simply not believe that you're always going to play rock. That doesn't make it effective though.

It's not that playing that aggressive, blitzing defense is per se bad, but if that's all you do, the only look you have, then it's bad. It's just flat out not the right defense to be playing all the time. And really, the Bulls had personnel to be doing different things. Watching Kornet play last year in New York, he actually wasn't trash defending the rim. Neither is Carter. They (and everyone else) are stronger rebounders than they showed last year because the defense called for them to be showing and switching like crazy.

Maybe I'm wrong, but it actually seemed to be playing awayfrom their strengths a lot of the time.


I don't think it's as simple as you can't always play rock, nor do I think the Bulls always played rock. I do like the analogy though, because it does get to a general point which is you can't be predictable, and the Bulls were too predictable on both sides of the floor.

One thing that I think is true on teams with an overabundance of young players and teams that have very little continuity game to game/year to year, is that you typically have to have a lot less variations of what you do and predictability becomes more of a problem. It's also why you see a lot of young teams that can do well in the regular season get rolled in the playoffs, because in the regular season you don't need as much variance, because the variance comes from night to night seeing different opponents and teams aren't sitting on your exact stuff like they are in the playoffs.

Young players don't have all the reps in for different systems and need to learn them. The most effective systems have a lot of reliance on everyone doing the right thing instantly, and teams that haven't had much continuity year over year (or even game over game) will not read each other as well.

The Bulls fell into both those camps last year, and I think that's part of our problem as well. Injuries prevented a lot of game over game continuity, and even when our roster had a lot of the same players, they've actually had very little time playing with each other due to so many injuries (real and tanking type) that kept our lineups very different.

At any rate, not sure that's really here nor there in terms of the discussion. I agree with the overall point that the Bulls didn't offer enough variance, and if you are forced into a situation where you have to have one general base scheme, I'm not sure they picked the right one for their players as you alluded to. There are only a couple guys whom are going to be good at gambling and aggressive defense on this squad. That said, I'm not sure what would have been better for this team that frequently had 3 poor defenders and no rim defender on the floor. There's not much that works when you start with that hand.
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Re: Chicago Bulls Defense Breakdown 

Post#20 » by MadGrinch » Mon Jul 20, 2020 11:16 pm

The bulls went from 25th to 14th in defensive rating and were injury plagued to boot .

Admittedly Boylen isn't the greatest coach but this was actually a decent showing all things considered

and truthfully the bulls when reasonably healthy are a big team ....a trapping defense on the surface is probably best than dealing with teams straight up due to the amount of lets say inattentive defenders the team usually employs .
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