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Defense... is this issue overblown?

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Defense... is this issue overblown? 

Post#1 » by gardenofsound » Thu Aug 26, 2021 9:45 pm

We keep hearing that this team isn't going to be ready to play defense.

Last year, the Bulls had the league's 14th best defense (in terms of opponent PPG). If you compare the roster in terms of defensive impact last season vs this coming season...

PG White << Ball
SG LaVine = LaVine
SF DeRozan <= Williams (this is arguable, as Williams really was not that good defensively... as is the case with almost all rooks)
PF Williams > Markkanen (I think we can expect this to be the case). Williams < Young
C Carter > Vucevic

However, this team should also be better defensively by limiting turnovers and transition baskets. Caruso will get big minutes and is a better defender than anyone the Bulls had last year (including Young).

Also, the switching capabilities on defense should make for fewer situations where a player will be targeted in iso. Ball, LaVine and Williams can all take their man assignments.

Ball can defend 1-3 and small 4's.
LaVine can defend 1-3
DeRozan can defend 2-4 (though likely not well)
Williams can defend 2-4, with spot minutes guarding the 1 or 5 depending on matchup.
Vucevic can defend big 4's and 5's.
Caruso can defend 1-3
White will have fewer minutes than last year.

I expect them to make more shots which will limit the transition game. Vucevic is a better rebounder than anyone the Bulls had last year, and Williams should step up to be at least Markkanen level crashing the boards. I don't foresee a major step back in rebounding... and rebounding is really a defensive stat given that it prevents opportunities for buckets.

I would also see turnover numbers going down with LaVine's usage decreasing and DeRozan taking a lot of the touches that LaVine and White would have previously taken. DeRozan doesn't turn the ball over that much.

I guess I just see all of these people ringing alarm bells on this Bulls team, and I just don't see it. If this team can maintain league average defense but become a top 5-10 offensive team, the ceiling is suddenly a lot higher.

And if we look at the offensive top teams...

Lakers
Warriors
Nets
Bucks
Suns
Nuggets
... (is there any reason the Bulls can't be up here?)
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Re: Defense... is this issue overblown? 

Post#2 » by kodo » Thu Aug 26, 2021 10:57 pm

Defense is hard to predict because we can't just add up all the good defenders and say if it's a good defensive team. NY had an almost identical roster and went from a terrible defense to the 3rd best defense last season. And nobody would have said a team of Coby White, Lavine, Thad Young and Vuc/Carter would be the 11th/12th best defense last 2 seasons.

A lot of defense these days isn't reliant on individual talent but on whether people are in the right places already before the ball swings, basically tons of practice and knowing their roles. That's what NY had, they had an incredible amount of consistency in their lineups. Almost 1000 minutes from their 2 consistent lineups. Utah had 900 minutes from their 2 lineups. Chicago, we had no lineup we used more than 137 minutes.

I think our defense is going to be less about whether Derozan can iso defend this guy and more about our consistency and availability of our players every game.
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Re: Defense... is this issue overblown? 

Post#3 » by Axl Rose » Thu Aug 26, 2021 11:49 pm

Maybe if we get a huge jump from Williams defensively.

Otherwise we are pretty weak inside and average on the perimeter.
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Re: Defense... is this issue overblown? 

Post#4 » by HomoSapien » Fri Aug 27, 2021 12:09 am

I'm going to say something controversial. Nikola Vucevic is a better defender than Carter. I know that shouldn't even be a thing, but Carter got abused almost at a nightly basis.

This year's LaVine might also be a better defender than last year. No one really mentions TBJ, but he seemed like a plus defender from what we saw.
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Re: Defense... is this issue overblown? 

Post#5 » by MrSparkle » Fri Aug 27, 2021 12:16 am

I don't want to say 'yes'... But I'm gonna say yes...

Let's establish that last year's starting units were largely horrendous defensive squads, thanks to rookie Pat, bad Coby, horrendous play (and availability) from Wendell and Lauri, and mediocre defense from Zach. That bench unit of Sato, Temple and Thad was the bail-out squad -- especially for the 15 games Otto was available. So that latter half was able to keep Donovan's overall defensive rating in the middle.

The difference between then and now is there should be no excuses for poor offensive execution from the starters. We hoped Coby, Pat and Wendell could become consistent scorers, but it didn't happen. Lauri got injured before his fan-club could even gloat too much about his 69% TS and 90/50/40 average.

There will be 3 experienced all-star bail-out/iso scoring options. If Donovan and those 3 can't figure out how to make buckets on command against 20 out of 30 teams (let's say 66% of the time), then all I can say is the United Center is indeed cursed by the shadow of MJ. They should be able to score a bucket on every position unless they're playing the most elite defensive teams (Jazz, Heat, Lakers, Bucks, etc.).

Meanwhile Donovan needs to get Caruso, Troy, Bradley and Javonte to buy-in, and like last year, have the bench mob set the defensive tone. Throw in Ayo and IMO they look very strong on that end. Leave in 1 of the hot hands (Zach/Demar/Vuc) to keep the offense going.

This isn't even rocket science. I almost feel like expecting this team to "suck" (as in miss the playoffs i.e. Friedell) is working against a lot of laws of probability.

The trade deadline seemed like a home-run, and we fell flat on face, so I'm aware things can go wrong, but the 3 excuses kind of check out... seem entirely reasonable explanations (1. Major shake-up, everybody changed roles, went down a position 2. No practices 3. Zach had a hurt ankle).

Fact is that Donovan has had his OKC and CHI teams above-average in defense literally every year. I have no doubt that he'll figure it out with this squad - JUST considering the size and athleticism upgrade in personnel, we went from scrub-ville to elite length and/or athleticism in the guards and wings. Gonna be night and day IMO.
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Re: Defense... is this issue overblown? 

Post#6 » by FriedRise » Fri Aug 27, 2021 12:28 am

Yes, way overblown. Unlike Hoiberg, BD is not gonna put 5 guys out there who can't play defense. We were a solid defensive team last year with Zach, Coby, and rookie Pat gobbling most of the minutes. He only had Temple and Thad to rely on for the most part for defense. He even had to search pretty deep a bunch of times (Mokoka, Kornet, Felicio) because our point of attack defense was atrocious and our bigs were constantly getting son'd.

Now he has more defenders in his disposal in Ball, Caruso, Bradley, and even Vooch who's a legit big body. As long as we can keep defending the perimeter, we should be alright.
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Re: Defense... is this issue overblown? 

Post#7 » by Neonblazer » Fri Aug 27, 2021 12:46 am

Because everyone else is pretty much upgrade over their previous positions I would say the key players are Lavine and Vuc. They need to stop falling a sleep on defense. Lavine and Vuc both have tendency to just let players past them if they think they cant get to stop them.
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Re: Defense... is this issue overblown? 

Post#8 » by BullChit » Fri Aug 27, 2021 12:48 am

ICE!!!! ICE!!! ICE!!! ICE!!!
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Re: Defense... is this issue overblown? 

Post#9 » by HomoSapien » Fri Aug 27, 2021 12:59 am

Taking a look at our roster, here's how I'd characterize our defense:


Average to Above Average;
Lonzo Ball - Above average
Zach LaVine - Average, maybe trending upwards
Alex Caruso - Defensive Stopper
Tony Bradley - Average
Troy Brown Jr. - Above average
Javonte Green - Defensive Stopper but may have limited opportunities

Below Avergae:
Nikola Vucevic - Hovering at nearly average. I thought he did well for us, but we need a bigger sample size
DeMar DeRozan - Below average, undersized if at the 4.
Patrick Williams - Below average, but has potential to be a plus defender.
Coby White - Below average, although I don't think he's a major liability or anything.

Unknown:
Ayo Donsumo - Appears to be a potential defensive specialist
Marko Simonovic - Appears to have defensive limitations

If Vuc can remain solid and Williams can take a step forward, then we'll be in better shape than most people think. To me, our biggest issue is that we just don't have much shot-blocking. Bradley's by far our best guy at this, but his PT will be limited.
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Re: Defense... is this issue overblown? 

Post#10 » by BullChit » Fri Aug 27, 2021 1:19 am

On top of all of this and this will likely sound cliché but part of our best defence will be our offence.

Think about how many games we were in until the last shot last season and all we really had was Lavine scoring 40+

If we can maintain and even slightly build upon that level of defence from last season with the additional offensive fire power we will win a lot of those close games - some of them may not even end up being close.
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Re: Defense... is this issue overblown? 

Post#11 » by DuckIII » Fri Aug 27, 2021 1:29 am

I don’t think it’s overblown at all. It’s our clear projected weakness heading into the season. And though we have added several defensive upgrades (Ball, Caruso and Ayo) and hope Williams takes a big leap defensively, we still have a lot of poor defenders who will play regularly: Zach, Vuc, DDR, Coby and Lauri (for now).

Five fingers on a fist. We have very few rotations that will be able to play that way. Or at least that is how it appears on paper.
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Re: Defense... is this issue overblown? 

Post#12 » by HomoSapien » Fri Aug 27, 2021 1:41 am

DuckIII wrote:
Five fingers on a fist. We have very few rotations that will be able to play that way. Or at least that is how it appears on paper.


That's a good point, I don't think we've talked about what our "defensive unit" would look like. I suppose it'd be something like:

Bradley
Williams
Green/Ayo
Ball
Caruso

The offense would be pretty brutal but that unit should be able to get some stops.
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Re: Defense... is this issue overblown? 

Post#13 » by Dez » Fri Aug 27, 2021 1:44 am

DuckIII wrote:I don’t think it’s overblown at all. It’s our clear projected weakness heading into the season. And though we have added several defensive upgrades (Ball, Caruso and Ayo) and hope Williams takes a big leap defensively, we still have a lot of poor defenders who will play regularly: Zach, Vuc, DDR, Coby and Lauri (for now).

Five fingers on a fist. We have very few rotations that will be able to play that way. Or at least that is how it appears on paper.


We ended up with 11th best defense last season didn't we? Adding Ball and Caruso significantly strengthens our perimeter defense.

Will it be our strength? No but I don't think it'll be a significant weakness.
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Re: Defense... is this issue overblown? 

Post#14 » by DuckIII » Fri Aug 27, 2021 1:44 am

HomoSapien wrote:
DuckIII wrote:
Five fingers on a fist. We have very few rotations that will be able to play that way. Or at least that is how it appears on paper.


That's a good point, I don't think we've talked about what our "defensive unit" would look like. I suppose it'd be something like:

Bradley
Williams
Green/Ayo
Ball
Caruso

The offense would be pretty brutal but that unit should be able to get some stops.


That’s a good illustration of how poor our defense projects to be. How long can you leave that unit on the floor in even a moderately contested NBA game? 3 minutes? 5, maybe, if someone hits some open shots?
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Re: Defense... is this issue overblown? 

Post#15 » by sco » Fri Aug 27, 2021 2:13 am

DuckIII wrote:
HomoSapien wrote:
DuckIII wrote:
Five fingers on a fist. We have very few rotations that will be able to play that way. Or at least that is how it appears on paper.


That's a good point, I don't think we've talked about what our "defensive unit" would look like. I suppose it'd be something like:

Bradley
Williams
Green/Ayo
Ball
Caruso

The offense would be pretty brutal but that unit should be able to get some stops.


That’s a good illustration of how poor our defense projects to be. How long can you leave that unit on the floor in even a moderately contested NBA game? 3 minutes? 5, maybe, if someone hits some open shots?

I think it comes down to how effective Ball and Pat can be on the defensive end when they are out with our big 3, and conversely, how good they can be a creating their own offense when out in line-ups like above. Neither guy has shown enough yet to give me confidence that they'll get there this season, but there is a chance, and that's they key.
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Re: Defense... is this issue overblown? 

Post#16 » by MGB8 » Fri Aug 27, 2021 2:20 am

Bulls D will be fine. DeRozan has been the weak link on a lot of great defenses, even paired with other meh defenders. He isn’t good, but the problem is over-sold, especially in more clutch moments.

Vuc is similarly not as bad as reported.

LaVine is trending to average, maybe a touch better. Ball is overrated on D but is still above average.

Will Pat look more like an improved version of early season Pat? Will Billy be able to mix in Caruso, Brown, Green, Ayo to the team’s advantage, while also finding a way to defend well enough at the 4 if Pat is out? Is Bradley a good enough reserve 5? I think the answer will turn out to be yes, to include if Lauri is the backup 4.
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Re: Defense... is this issue overblown? 

Post#17 » by jordanwilliams6 » Fri Aug 27, 2021 3:10 am

I really don’t think it will be that bad if we can have buy in with effort form everyone, which I think we should. Our perimeter defense should be significantly better than last year. Vuc isn’t a good defender, but he isn’t a bad defender either. He’s slow and doesn’t really block shots but he’s smart with his positioning and can use his size.

If we can have an average defense and a top 5-10 offense then I think this team can get to around the 50 win mark.
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Re: Defense... is this issue overblown? 

Post#18 » by WYO » Fri Aug 27, 2021 3:28 am

The defense will be good enough for a first or second round exit depending on the matchup. The biggest problem is and always will be Vucevic. He isn't a rim protector and can't defend on the perimeter. He will keep this team from ever being a contender but they'll still be fun to watch and should be a playoff team. I'll take that.
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Re: Defense... is this issue overblown? 

Post#19 » by qianlong » Fri Aug 27, 2021 11:37 am

WYO wrote:The defense will be good enough for a first or second round exit depending on the matchup. The biggest problem is and always will be Vucevic. He isn't a rim protector and can't defend on the perimeter. He will keep this team from ever being a contender but they'll still be fun to watch and should be a playoff team. I'll take that.

i agree with this. The defense will be good enough for regular season and beating weaker teams, were the offense should be good enough. When good teams get serious i think we are going to be torched. Too many weak links with Vuc unfortunately not being able to cover. Attack Derozan or Vuc from pick and roll and i fear it is going to be easy baskets.
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Re: Defense... is this issue overblown? 

Post#20 » by MGB » Fri Aug 27, 2021 12:34 pm

We dont know yet what depth we might still add but just judging based on what we have now I say this..

Our guard defense will be better for sure. Adding Lonzo and Caruso who both will play a lot helps. Lavine if he plays on ball defense especially like he did in Olympics then that also helps. Green in spot duty will be a plus as well.

Vuc is average to below average defensively and to a certain extent we gotta live with that. Bradley will play solid defense when he is in there but a better defensive backup C would have been nice. Ideally I wish we had gotten a Javale McGee type backup big. I think that would have helped a lot.

The forward spots is key. Development of Williams on that end will be biggest swing point as to how good our overall team defense looks. He will have to play major minutes defending all the 3/4 top guys in league every night. Brown will be able to help in a bench role with the smaller wings but not against the bigger 3/4 types and as of right now we just dont have anyone behind Williams to help him in that role. It is why adding someone is huge. Whether via trade adding a Kleber, Prince or Jones would be ideal. If not then adding in FA a Millsap would be a huge get for us.

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