The Bulls have gone 2-4 since the trade deadline. Most fans have expected more, but with the bench for the Bulls being as helpful and reliable as they’ve been, I expect more in the near future.
First off, Vucevic has slowed the team down. The Bulls ranked 8th in pace before the deadline, and since then they have ranked 18th in pace. They have also ranked 1st in the league in post-ups since the deadline, and Vucevic is the sole reason for that. He is taking advantage of these opportunities, shooting 73.9% at the rim and 71.4% on post-ups. Vucevic has contributed to the team in ways we expected him to as well such as dribble-handoffs, pick and rolls, attracting double-teams, and other moves and fakes that help his team win. Vucevic’s power and leverage against the defense is impeccable and that is the principal reason why the Bulls are going to perform at a substantially higher rate in the remote future. Vucevic has said himself that he believes that with himself locating to the post, the Bulls can exploit multiple options through, around, or outside the post. Vucevic has trust in Chicago’s shooters and feels confident that they will knock it down when received a pass from him.
The first and most obvious dominant way to score for the Bulls is the Vucevic and LaVine two-man game. With good off-ball cutters such as Tomas Satoransky, Billy Donovan can draw up plays for Vucevic and LaVine, which, if all else fails, an unexpected weapon such as Satoransky or any other player who is willing to cut towards the basket can escape through the back door and get an easy bucket.
Another way Vucevic is contributing to the Bulls is with his rebounding. Even if he cannot coral the board, he draws the attention of the offense/defense, which leaves others free to grab a rebound. There is one mind-boggling stat that sticks out in my mind. When Vucevic is on the floor, the Bulls accumulate 80.4% of defensive rebounds. When he is off the floor, the Bulls grab 71.1%. That might not seem like a huge difference, except it is. The 80.4% stat is the number one rebound rate in the NBA. the 71.1% stat brings them down to 28th in the league.
The Bulls are getting it together, and are looking to make a push for the play-in tournament with a record of 22-29, 10th in the East. If they want to keep this win streak going (two-game win streak), they need to continue to take advantage of mismatches with Thaddeus Young playing at the 4 to open up other players for Young to facilitate to. Continuing to finish in the paint and draw fouls should be a priority as well. They attempt the least free throws per game and make the least amount of free throws per game in the entire league, yet they rank 6th in the league in free throw percentage and almost every player on the Bulls roster can finish in the paint with high consistency. Only two rotational players are shooting under 60% from 0-3 feet and they are Coby White and Denzel Valentine. They are also 29th in turnovers per game, which in order to win, you need to maintain the number of giveaways per game. It will be interesting to see how/if Billy Donovan can turn this organization into a winning one.