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Defense... is this issue overblown?

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Re: Defense... is this issue overblown? 

Post#101 » by FriedRise » Fri Oct 8, 2021 1:47 pm

It became obvious to me after watching the game that their main strategy is defense > offense. Looks like that's gonna be the case per this Lonzo quote:

"I think for us, it's going to start on defense," Ball said. "Once we get out on the break, we've got a lot of athletes that can get up and down and pretty much catch wherever I throw it. The team we put together, we're going to be better in transition. I think defense is going to lead to better offense for us and that starts with me. So I think just coming in, playing hard and making the right plays really is my job this year. As long as we get the stops and get out and run, I think we should have a lot of options and a lot of good options. We can run out and find the best option. Zach and DJ (Derrick Jones, who didn't play Tuesday), they can catch it anywhere. So wherever I put it, I feel like they're going to get it."

https://www.nba.com/bulls/features/lonzo-ball-face-his-former-pelicans-team-preseason-play

I don't think they're gonna average 13 steals a game, but they know that with good defense when you're not taking the ball out of the net, that's when you can run and eat on the offensive end.

To win consistently, we still need to be a solid half-court team, but that's why we have guys like DDR, Vooch, and Zach who can still produce against set defenses.
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Re: Defense... is this issue overblown? 

Post#102 » by coldfish » Fri Oct 8, 2021 3:47 pm

IMO, the Bulls defense is going to be stunning to a lot of people. The execution the last game was pretty ridiculous and the length/athleticism of the team is badly underrated. I need to see more data but right now I wouldn't be surprised if the team ended up being top 5 in defense.

People will bring up DDR, Lavine and Vuc but given their reduced offensive roles, they have more energy for defense and seem to have bought in. All three executed the defensive scheme very well in game 1.

The pick and roll defense in particular is a massive upgrade. The team can switch frequently and they have people who fight over picks. Not sure if anyone noticed but Vuc looked a lot better in the drop defense when he wasn't going 1 on 2.

Lastly, defense is a team thing, not an individual one. Those looking at individual defenders are missing the bigger picture. Its about everyone doing their job and the Bulls *might* have that. Hopefully game 1 wasn't some massive fluke.
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Re: Defense... is this issue overblown? 

Post#103 » by CBS7 » Fri Oct 8, 2021 4:31 pm

I can't believe the general feeling around the league and among fans is that this team will be trash tier defensively. They were 11th last year. 11th! Defense was better wtih Vuce, not worse! They might end up in the 15-20 range but won't be bottom 5.

Obviously they are missing a traditional rim protector/shotblocker but they were 27th in blocks last season, didn't stop them from being 11th in DRTG.

The whole is often greater than the sum of its parts when it comes to defense.
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Re: Defense... is this issue overblown? 

Post#104 » by paxson_4_3 » Fri Oct 8, 2021 4:44 pm

The team will be Top-10 defensively at the very least as long as everyone stays healthy. They absolutely have the right personnel for the Switch-Everything and Help-the-Helper approach. I think these Bulls will surprise plenty of people.
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Re: Defense... is this issue overblown? 

Post#105 » by WookieOnRitalin » Fri Oct 8, 2021 6:15 pm

coldfish wrote:IMO, the Bulls defense is going to be stunning to a lot of people. The execution the last game was pretty ridiculous and the length/athleticism of the team is badly underrated. I need to see more data but right now I wouldn't be surprised if the team ended up being top 5 in defense.

People will bring up DDR, Lavine and Vuc but given their reduced offensive roles, they have more energy for defense and seem to have bought in. All three executed the defensive scheme very well in game 1.

The pick and roll defense in particular is a massive upgrade. The team can switch frequently and they have people who fight over picks. Not sure if anyone noticed but Vuc looked a lot better in the drop defense when he wasn't going 1 on 2.

Lastly, defense is a team thing, not an individual one. Those looking at individual defenders are missing the bigger picture. Its about everyone doing their job and the Bulls *might* have that. Hopefully game 1 wasn't some massive fluke.


Easy to have a defense look good while playing a team without a player in the Top 50.

The real test will be seeing how they look against a team with one or two players top perimeter players. I'll be more optimistic and have a better concept of the strengths/weaknesses are with more samples. I will agree that they do have some better athletes out there which "should" help a bit.
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Re: Defense... is this issue overblown? 

Post#106 » by kodo » Fri Oct 8, 2021 7:15 pm

Doesn't look like we're really switching. Seems to be standard hedge & recover stuff, we don't hard switch, the initial man gets back asap to the ball.

Doesn't look like we're doing anything really unusual here, most of the results are just from everyone is getting through screens much better than last year. People aren't content to hit a screen and then give up.

Probably the biggest changes are
- Javonte is about 500x faster at jumping out on the ball and then recovering to his man than Thad Young or Lauri.
- Lonzo & Caruso are handling screens better than anyone we had last year, they are anticipating and getting through them. Coby & Sato last year got hit with a screen and looked like they needed a doctor
- the entire team is playing the passing lanes, pretty high risk.
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Re: Defense... is this issue overblown? 

Post#107 » by coldfish » Fri Oct 8, 2021 8:29 pm

WookieOnRitalin wrote:
coldfish wrote:IMO, the Bulls defense is going to be stunning to a lot of people. The execution the last game was pretty ridiculous and the length/athleticism of the team is badly underrated. I need to see more data but right now I wouldn't be surprised if the team ended up being top 5 in defense.

People will bring up DDR, Lavine and Vuc but given their reduced offensive roles, they have more energy for defense and seem to have bought in. All three executed the defensive scheme very well in game 1.

The pick and roll defense in particular is a massive upgrade. The team can switch frequently and they have people who fight over picks. Not sure if anyone noticed but Vuc looked a lot better in the drop defense when he wasn't going 1 on 2.

Lastly, defense is a team thing, not an individual one. Those looking at individual defenders are missing the bigger picture. Its about everyone doing their job and the Bulls *might* have that. Hopefully game 1 wasn't some massive fluke.


Easy to have a defense look good while playing a team without a player in the Top 50.

The real test will be seeing how they look against a team with one or two players top perimeter players. I'll be more optimistic and have a better concept of the strengths/weaknesses are with more samples. I will agree that they do have some better athletes out there which "should" help a bit.


Everyone in the NBA plays somewhat similar help schemes nowadays. There are pretty universal rules. Some teams switch more, others drop or ICE or whatever but you can tell what they were supposed to do and evaluate them based on that.

The Bulls in game 1 were executing REALLY well. Against top players and teams, the results won't be as good but over the course of a long season, a team that consistently does the right things at the right time is going to have good results. I was not evaluating the Bulls in game 1 based on results but based on what they were supposed to do and they looked gooooood.
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Re: Defense... is this issue overblown? 

Post#108 » by Little Nathan » Fri Oct 8, 2021 8:29 pm

Yeah, I think there’s definitely some overreacting going on in this thread. Still think many people are a little too excited to understand just how terrible DeRozan is defensively. With him, LaVine and Vucevic on the floor, it’s going to be hard to have a good defense out there. I think it’s definitely doable to finish top 15 in the regular season, though. Donovan has coached some good defenses with pretty bad defensive rosters in the past and we do have some guys who should really help. So yeah, the issue is probably overblown when it comes to the regular season.

Playoffs are a completely different story. I think there’s no way DeRozan and Vucevic aren’t going to be big issues there. Teams are going to relentlessly attack those matchups. But I guess that’s an issue for the future Bulls, you obviously gotta get there first.
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Re: Defense... is this issue overblown? 

Post#109 » by coldfish » Fri Oct 8, 2021 8:33 pm

kodo wrote:Doesn't look like we're really switching. Seems to be standard hedge & recover stuff, we don't hard switch, the initial man gets back asap to the ball.

Doesn't look like we're doing anything really unusual here, most of the results are just from everyone is getting through screens much better than last year. People aren't content to hit a screen and then give up.

Probably the biggest changes are
- Javonte is about 500x faster at jumping out on the ball and then recovering to his man than Thad Young or Lauri.
- Lonzo & Caruso are handling screens better than anyone we had last year, they are anticipating and getting through them. Coby & Sato last year got hit with a screen and looked like they needed a doctor
- the entire team is playing the passing lanes, pretty high risk.


Just to note, I did see switches. I'm pretty sure I know the rules. When its a big man setting the pick, the Bulls cover PnR with drop coverage. That's how most teams run PnR so you see that a lot. That said, when it was two wing plays running picks, I did see the Bulls switch and they did it well.

I almost never saw the Bulls switch last year.
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Re: Defense... is this issue overblown? 

Post#110 » by kodo » Fri Oct 8, 2021 10:37 pm

coldfish wrote:Just to note, I did see switches. I'm pretty sure I know the rules. When its a big man setting the pick, the Bulls cover PnR with drop coverage. That's how most teams run PnR so you see that a lot. That said, when it was two wing plays running picks, I did see the Bulls switch and they did it well.

I almost never saw the Bulls switch last year.


Yeah that makes sense with Vuc. And there were obviously some switches, which is how Lauri got embarrassed trying to post up Lonzo. There were also a lot of screens where we played them normally. I'll be curious to see how much we switch as the games go on.
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Re: Defense... is this issue overblown? 

Post#111 » by FriedRise » Fri Oct 8, 2021 10:49 pm

We switch a lot, just not with Vooch.

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Re: Defense... is this issue overblown? 

Post#112 » by TeamMan » Sat Oct 9, 2021 4:29 am

TeamMan wrote:After watching the Cavs game, I decided to go back and find this thread again.

The reason is because of an observation that I made about the team as a whole...

The Bulls players have really, really quick hands.

It's an intangible that you can't quantify. So, no one could have projected what was going to happen.

Over the past years, I remember hearing Stacy King pound it into the ground, "You've got to get to the 50/50 balls."

And I also remember a quote from Bill Cartwright when he talked about 50/50 balls - he said, "We got all of them!"

With 50/50 balls, there is a fraction of a second where the ball just seems to be hanging in the air, and during the Cavs game, it seemed like (every time) one of the Bulls players (with lightening quickness) reached out and snatched the ball out of the air.

And the player who surprised me most was Vuc. With centers we tend to think about rim-protection. But, when a player goes 1-on-1 against him (not only other centers), Vuc has a real knack of getting his hands on the ball and slapping it away (often to another Bulls player.)

I went back and checked the stats against the Cavs and they had 20 TOs, but 13 of those TOs were Bulls steals. And that does not include the effect from getting most of the 50/50 balls.

So, the Bulls quick hands is something that I'll be watching as the season goes on. My fear is that the refs will start to call fouls in those situations. But I've also seen that, even if the a player is fouled, when it happens super quick, the refs will miss it. So, that'll also be something to keep and eye on.

...Pelicans had 18 TOs, but 14 were Bulls steals.

This could be a fun stat to keep track of as the season goes on...
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Re: Defense... is this issue overblown? 

Post#113 » by BullChit » Sat Oct 9, 2021 5:32 am

TeamMan wrote:
TeamMan wrote:After watching the Cavs game, I decided to go back and find this thread again.

The reason is because of an observation that I made about the team as a whole...

The Bulls players have really, really quick hands.

It's an intangible that you can't quantify. So, no one could have projected what was going to happen.

Over the past years, I remember hearing Stacy King pound it into the ground, "You've got to get to the 50/50 balls."

And I also remember a quote from Bill Cartwright when he talked about 50/50 balls - he said, "We got all of them!"

With 50/50 balls, there is a fraction of a second where the ball just seems to be hanging in the air, and during the Cavs game, it seemed like (every time) one of the Bulls players (with lightening quickness) reached out and snatched the ball out of the air.

And the player who surprised me most was Vuc. With centers we tend to think about rim-protection. But, when a player goes 1-on-1 against him (not only other centers), Vuc has a real knack of getting his hands on the ball and slapping it away (often to another Bulls player.)

I went back and checked the stats against the Cavs and they had 20 TOs, but 13 of those TOs were Bulls steals. And that does not include the effect from getting most of the 50/50 balls.

So, the Bulls quick hands is something that I'll be watching as the season goes on. My fear is that the refs will start to call fouls in those situations. But I've also seen that, even if the a player is fouled, when it happens super quick, the refs will miss it. So, that'll also be something to keep and eye on.

...Pelicans had 18 TOs, but 14 were Bulls steals.

This could be a fun stat to keep track of as the season goes on...


I nominate you to keep track of it brother.....
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Re: Defense... is this issue overblown? 

Post#114 » by NecessaryEvil » Sat Oct 9, 2021 7:18 am

You think it's good now? Just wait until Patrick Williams comes back ......
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Re: Defense... is this issue overblown? 

Post#115 » by TeamMan » Sat Oct 9, 2021 8:05 am

BullChit wrote:
TeamMan wrote:
TeamMan wrote:After watching the Cavs game, I decided to go back and find this thread again.

The reason is because of an observation that I made about the team as a whole...

The Bulls players have really, really quick hands.

It's an intangible that you can't quantify. So, no one could have projected what was going to happen.

Over the past years, I remember hearing Stacy King pound it into the ground, "You've got to get to the 50/50 balls."

And I also remember a quote from Bill Cartwright when he talked about 50/50 balls - he said, "We got all of them!"

With 50/50 balls, there is a fraction of a second where the ball just seems to be hanging in the air, and during the Cavs game, it seemed like (every time) one of the Bulls players (with lightening quickness) reached out and snatched the ball out of the air.

And the player who surprised me most was Vuc. With centers we tend to think about rim-protection. But, when a player goes 1-on-1 against him (not only other centers), Vuc has a real knack of getting his hands on the ball and slapping it away (often to another Bulls player.)

I went back and checked the stats against the Cavs and they had 20 TOs, but 13 of those TOs were Bulls steals. And that does not include the effect from getting most of the 50/50 balls.

So, the Bulls quick hands is something that I'll be watching as the season goes on. My fear is that the refs will start to call fouls in those situations. But I've also seen that, even if the a player is fouled, when it happens super quick, the refs will miss it. So, that'll also be something to keep and eye on.

...Pelicans had 18 TOs, but 14 were Bulls steals.

This could be a fun stat to keep track of as the season goes on...


I nominate you to keep track of it brother.....

OK - will see how it looks by the end of preseason...

Opponent TOs: 38
Bulls Steals: 27
Percentage: 71%


Easy stat to follow...
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Re: Defense... is this issue overblown? 

Post#116 » by dougthonus » Sat Oct 9, 2021 12:49 pm

coldfish wrote:Lastly, defense is a team thing, not an individual one. Those looking at individual defenders are missing the bigger picture. Its about everyone doing their job and the Bulls *might* have that. Hopefully game 1 wasn't some massive fluke.


The bar is actually set very high for Pat now. Javonte Green came in and looked like an absolutely perfect player for our defense in two games. He was a one man wrecking crew out there flying all over the place. Pat has historically been way more passive and has no where near the lateral quickness that Green does and instead has more size.

It will be interesting to see how things work with Pat in there.

Also, playing a team like Cleveland which doesn't have a lot of team ball skills and a team like the Pelicans that really just lacked any type of talent whatsoever probably makes our defense look a ton better than it was. You can only play who is in front of you though, and we absolutely embarrassed both teams, so you can't ask for more. We'll see what happens against a real team though. Not sure if we'll see one of those until 6 games into the regular season assuming Memphis isn't goign to go hard in the preseason finale.
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Re: Defense... is this issue overblown? 

Post#117 » by DuckIII » Sat Oct 9, 2021 1:08 pm

Zach and DDR playing defense like they are makes a huge difference. If they can do that consistently, look out.

That said, we’ve played two terrible and inexperienced teams. We’ve been able to coast offensively and clown them with long athleticism. That’s just not going to happen all the time. Guys are going to get tired legs, DDR and Zach are going to have to work harder on offense while marching up with tougher defensive assignments. Vuc will Vuc and at some point Coby White will start playing and downgrade the defense as well.

On the plus side, our free agent additions and bench look outstanding defensively and are huge upgrades. And Williams will help as well. So while I still would have to say our defense still projects to be the potential Achilles heel, it’s not going to be to the level offsetting offensive quality.

This will be a good two way team.
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Re: Defense... is this issue overblown? 

Post#118 » by coldfish » Sat Oct 9, 2021 1:24 pm

I just did a quick stab at a D rating for last night. 85 points, 112 possessions. DRtng of 75.9. Last year the best defense in the NBA finished with a 107.1. Obviously, Chicago isn't going to finish with the best defense of all time by a mile. That said, even a massive regression would still put them in the "good category".

To some extent, the high pace is hiding just how ridiculously good the defense has been.

Are better offenses going to do better? Of course. That said, I'm not seeing the exploitable flaw that others seem to. Vucevic is doing well in the drop coverage role, contesting shots without fouling. DDR doesn't look like a liability. Everyone is hitting their assignments outside of a handful of breakdowns. Lavine looks like an outright good defender, both on and off the ball.
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Re: Defense... is this issue overblown? 

Post#119 » by Little Nathan » Sat Oct 9, 2021 1:42 pm

coldfish wrote:DDR doesn't look like a liability.


So far I agree - and I hope it stays that way too - but he has been a huge defensive liability for his entire career. He was one of the worst defensive wings in the league last year, the Spurs defense just completely fell apart when he stepped on the floor (their defense was almost 10 (!!!) points per 100 possessions better with him off the floor). I want to be optimistic, but for now I'm not willing to overreact to 2 games against extremely bad competition in preseason. I need to see it in real games first.

As for Vuc, I think he's never been terrible as a drop big. Not good, but fine. He just offers zero scheme versatility which hurts you in the playoffs.
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Re: Defense... is this issue overblown? 

Post#120 » by weneeda2guard » Sat Oct 9, 2021 1:52 pm

I am one not shocked at all by the level of our defense. Lavine was a willing defender and literally only 1 of a few guys who would even play defense in Tokyo. Ball is a excellent defender and green/Patrick Williams are great defenders. We have a roster full of guys who play solid to great defense which would cover well for guys like derozan and Vucevic. No team in the league has a 15 man roster full of excellent defenders lol.

Ball and lavine as a offensive and defensive combo are going to be a issue for a lot of teams in the league especially the teams with those midget 6'1 etc back courts.
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