King-Bulls Preview

Sacramento Kings 2010-2011 Status Check:
Record: 24-58
Division: 7-9
Conference: 15-37
Home Record: 11-30
Last game: 101-79 loss to Portland
PPG: 99.4 (15th)
Opponents PPG: 104.7 (25th)
Offensive Rating: 103.5 (25th)
Defensive Rating: 109.0 (20th)
Pace: 95.2 (4th)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .480 (26th)
Turnover Percentage: .144 (26th)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .744 (13th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .299 (1st)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .208 (28th)
Opp. eFG%: .513 (25th)
Opp. TO%:  .135 (13th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .233 (18th)
Leading scorer: Marcus Thornton (21.3)

Stats from Basketball-Reference

After two underwhelming performances, Chicago looks to rebound against the 1-1 Sacramento Kings. For the first time this season, we may finally see the 62 win Chicago Bulls team from last year.

After watching tape of the first two games, through which Chicago went 1-1, Derrick Rose promised to be more aggressive early.

“I think the first two games, in the first quarter, we were kind of sluggish where we didn’t start off well,” Rose said. “And the only thing I can think about from last year and this year is this year I shot less shots in the first quarter. I think I only shot one or two shots in the first quarter [this year]. Last year it was eight [or] nine shots just to get a groove going. That’s the difference that I see from last year and this year.”

It’s not just shots from the field either. So far this season, Rose has gotten to the line just four times total, all of which came during Chicago’s loss to the Warriors. Rose needs to get to the line more than that, especially since he shot just 4-17 from the field in the Warriors game (Rose scored 13 against Golden State). Rip Hamilton was supposed to open up the lanes for Derrick to use, but so far that hasn’t been the case.

In the Warriors game, Rose was just 1-3 in his first eleven minutes on the court. He scored five points in his next two minutes. Rose is content to get others involved and to be the facilitator/passer rather than the scorer, but there comes a point where he needs to assert himself. Last season the Bulls went as Derrick went, and that doesn’t seem to have changed two games into this season.

Last year, when Derrick wasn’t shooting well from the field, he usually found a way to get to the foul line. In the 2010-2011 campaign, Rose started the season slow from the free throw line, but as the year went on, he got there more and more. Rose got to the line just under seven times per game last season. Before the All-Star game he averaged 6.2 free throw attempts, but he bumped that number up to 8.1 attempts per game after the break. In the two games last year against the Kings, Rose averaged 6.5 free throws a game, making all of them.

Good things happened when Derrick got to the line last year. Rose shot four or less free throws 20 times last year; Chicago went just 13-7 in those games.

But it hasn’t just been the offense that started slow, Chicago’s defense hasn’t gotten back from the long break yet either. Chicago is 23rd in offensive efficiency at 93.8, but this year their defense isn’t picking up the slack. Their 101.4 defensive efficiency isn’t going to get the job done when their offensive numbers are so bad (last year they tied for first in defensive rating at 100.3).

The Bulls have gone from one of the best defensive teams in the league to one that has plenty of room for improvement. Chicago is allowing opponents to shoot 47.1 percent from the field, sixth worst in the league. Last year the Bulls stingy defense held opponents to 43 percent from the field.

Early in the most recent game the Bulls were allowing the Warriors to shoot 62 percent, with eleven assists on 13 field goals, while only forcing one turnover. Not quite the Bulls defense of yester-year. Chicago’s defense has to be stronger early to keep the games close. There is still hope for the Bulls to turn their defense around quickly though; mostly because the Warriors are an offensive powerhouse while the Kings were 25th in offensive rating (103.5) last season.

Last time out, against the Trail Blazers, Sacramento shot very poorly from outside; from 16-23 feet, the Kings went just 3-18, a 16.7 effective field percentage. From three, Sacramento shot 3-16. While it may seem like a good idea to pack the lane and force the Kings to shoot from deep; Sacramento was hot from that area in their first game this season.

Against the Lakers, they shot 10-19 from 16-23 feet, and 9-18 from three. That’s a 75 percent effective field goal percentage from three. In both games though, the Kings haven’t shot well from 3-9 feet. They are shooting just 8-22 from that area this season.

Sacramento was the second worst team in the West last season. The Kings only won eleven home games last year, compared to 13 on the road. Perhaps this is telling of their owners and stadium situation.

But while no one is surprised by the Kings 1-1 start, panic is already ringing throughout the league about Chicago. While it really isn’t time to start overreacting, just two games into the season, it may be time that the Bulls get back to what they were doing last year; and that may mean leaning on Rose…a lot.

Rip Hamilton: Hamilton looked good early on Monday, scoring six points in the first five and a half minutes. But he scored just ten points in the game, on 5-12 shooting. What he had working early was his post up game, against the smaller Monta Ellis. Marcus Thornton, Sacramento’s starting shooting guard, is listed at the same height as Ellis, which is three inches smaller than Rip. Thornton is 20 pounds heavier than Ellis though.

Speaking of Thornton, he played Chicago three times last year (two with New Orleans and once with Sacramento); averaging 23 points, while shooting 58.5 percent.

Turnovers: Chicago forced just 10 turnovers (and only three steals) against Golden State, while the Bulls coughed the ball up twice that many times. Chicago only scored seven points off those ten Warrior turnovers, while Golden State scored 22 off of Chicago’s giveaways. The Bulls had six turnovers in the first seven minutes their last time out.

Offensive rebounds: The Bulls were fourth in offensive rebounding percentage last year, at .294, while the Kings were first at .299. Two games into the season, Sacramento is at .293, which puts them twelfth in the league, while Chicago is once again fourth (.337).

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