November 10, 2009
According to John Hollinger’sPlayer Efficiency Rating, Joakim Noah (23.36) currently ranks behind only Dwight Howard (28.21) and Tim Duncan (25.04) among centers. (Noah ranks 15thoverall among all players.) He’s also in the top 10 among centers in True Shooting Percentage (10th at .625), Assist Ratio (10th at 17.3), Offensive Rebounding Rate (10th at 13.2), Defensive Rebounding Rate (10th at 27.2), Rebounding Rate (8th at 19.9), Value Added (5th at 34.7) and Estimated Wins Added (5th at 1.2).
To sum up: Noah is one of the league’s best centers based on almost every advanced metric Hollinger currently has to offer on his ESPN page. (Go here for an explanation of each.)
If you want some raw numbers, overall Noah ranks 1st in Block Per Foul (1.08), 6th in Blocks Per Game (2.33), 6th in Offensive Rebounds Per Game (3.8), 7th in Rebounds Per Game (11.0), 8th in Field Goal Percentage (.609), and 9th in Rebounds Per 48 Minutes.
What’s more, Noah is one of the big reasons that the Bulls currently rank 8th in Defensive Rating (101.4 points per 100 possessions). After all, he’s second on the team with a Defensive Rating of 97.
So…who expected this? I mean, of everyone on the team, Joakimis (so far) the only one player who is demonstrably better than he was last season. His intensity and determination has remained pretty much constant since college, but his other skills have improved through what appears to have been a summer of blood, sweat and tears. Noah is stronger. He’s added offensive moves – including a decent (if terribly ugly) midrangeshot and a hook shot witheither hand — because he realized his lack of scoringchops was hurting the team (since his defender could always sag off and help pester his teammates).
Honestly, most of the talk from the end of last season into the beginning of this season focused on whether Tyrus Thomas was finally going to explode out of his Shell of Potential and become a major force for the Bulls. Instead, and somewhat quietly, it’s been Noah who has made a leap forward.
Via Not Qualified To Comment: Apparently, Chicago Tribune columnist Rick Morrissey showed up at a Bulls practice and ate (with yummy salsa!) one of his old articles. No, really! According to Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald: “Morrissey showed up at practice carrying an old copy of his sports section and a jar of salsa. Apparently on draft night 2007, he wrote that if Joakim Noah becomes a useful player within three years, he’ll eat his column with salsa.” Rick Morrissey: Giving new meaning to eating one’s words.
November 3, 2009
The 2009-10 Chicago Bulls offense. So far.
Through three games, the Bulls’ shooting has been terrible. Maybe even worse than terrible. Chicago currently ranks 26th in Field Goal Percentage (.413), 29th in Effective Field Goal Percentage (.427) and 30th (a.k.a. dead last) in Three Point Percentage (.163). Not to state the glaringly obvious, but being one of the worst shooting teams in the league is never a good thing.
And the problem isn’t limited to jump shooting. The most depressing number of all is this: the Bulls have missed 37 layups in their first three games (or an average of 12 missed bunnies a game). No, really. They’re 32-for-69 so far this season when trying to lay the ball into the hoop: 8-for-19 versus San Antonio, 10-for-21 versus Boston and 14-for-29 versus Miami. Good teams — heck, even average teams – should probably be able to hit at least 50 percent from point-blank range…right?
The kinda-sorta good news? The Bulls have faced some stiff defense. In fact, the Heat and Celtics currently rank first and second in Field Goal Percentage Defense (.386 and .391, respectively). So maybe things aren’t as bad as the early returns make them look.
Still, if Chicago develops a reputation as a team that can’t shoot, opponents are going to clog the lane (which will greatly diminish Derrick Rose’s effectiveness) and dare the Bulls to beat them with outside shooting. Which is already happening to an extent…and it hasn’t been working out very well for the Bulls.
Let’s hope the Bucks — currently ranked 19th in Field Goal Percentage Defense (.447) — can help the Bulls up their shooting a bit tonight at the United Center.
September 25, 2009
Turns out the bench was pretty darn important last season.
While sifting through the incredible amount of data over at 82games.com, I came across the NBA Team Starter/Reserve stats page for the 2008-09 season. Check this out:
Last season, the Bulls bench ranked 13th in points per 100 possessions (106.3), 10th in rebounds per game (14.3), ninth in points per game (31.0), tied for 7th in assists per game (6.9), tied for fourth in steals per game (2.7), and an amazing third in the league (behind Boston and Utah and ahead of the Lakers and Cleveland) in net points (+462). That’s some pretty impressive bench production! And note that the four teams around them in net points were a combined 241-87…that’s a winning percentage of 73 percent. So bench-wise, the Bulls were in elite company in 2008-09.
Now check out how the starters ranked in comparison: 19th in points per 100 possessions (105.7), 17th in rebounds per game (27.8), 13th in points per game (71.2), 24th in assists per game (14,2), 19th in steals per game (4.7), and a dreadful 21st in net points (-577). The only teams that ranked below them in net points were New Jersey, New York, Golden State, Minnesota, Memphis, Oklahoma City, Washington, Sacramento and the L.A. Clippers. Note those were all bottom-feeding lottery teams. Further consider the fact that those squads had a combined record of 221-517 (a winning percentage of 36 percent).
So it seems that the Bulls’ bench production more important than we might have guessed…and that the relative productivity of the starters was actually much worse. If the Bulls are going to be more than a seventh or eighth seed this season, they have to continue to get strong performances from their reserves while getting much better total production from the starting unit. If I had to guess, I’d bet that will start (if it happens) with defense.
September 18, 2009
To prepare myself for the upcoming season, I decided to take a look back at the numbers that shaped the 2008-09 campaign. These stats came from the 2008-09 NBA Season Summary at Basketball-Reference.com.
Field Goals Made / Attempted: The Bulls ranked 8th in field goals made (3126) and 5th in field goals attempted (6846). Only the Knicks, Pacers, Warriors and Lakers put up more shots. In addition to those teams, the Suns, Jazz and Mavericks all made more shots.
Three-pointers: The Bulls knocked down a higher percentage of their three-pointers (.381) than all but five other teams (Celtics, Cavaliers, Spurs, Suns and Trail Blazers). However, they ranked only 22nd in three-pointers made (492) and 23rd in three-pointers attempted (1293).
Fun Fact: The Bulls opened the season with a starting lineup of Derrick Rose, Thabo Sefolosha, Luol Deng, Drew Gooden and Tyrus Thomas. They ended the season with a starting lineup of Rose, Ben Gordon, John Salmons, Thomas and Joakim Noah. Obviously, three of those eight players are no longer with the team.
Free Throws: The Bulls were 14th in free throws attempted (2052) but 7th in both free throws made (1633) and free throw percentage (.796).
Blocks: The Bulls were the league’s fourth-best team in terms of total blocks (453). The only teams to return more shots to sender were the Warriors (527), Nuggets (492) and Clippers (482). Raise your hands if you’re surprised to see the Warriors and Clippers at the top of the league in this category. Yeah, I thought so.
Points: The Bulls ranked 8th in points per game (102.2), behind the Suns (109.4), Warriors (108.6), Lakers (106.9), Knicks (105.2), Pacers (105.1), Nuggets (104.3) and Jazz (103.6). Note that four of those eight teams did not make the playoffs (Suns, Warriors, Knicks and Pacers).
Opponents’ Field Goals: Bulls opponents ranked 4th in field goals attempted (6864) but only 10th in field goals made (3141) and 16th in field goal percentage (.458).
Opponents’ Three-pointers: Despite the fact that Bulls opponents chucked up the fourth-most shots, they ranked only 24th in three-point attempts (1400), 25th in three-pointers made (486), and 27th in three-point percentage (.347).
Opponents’ Offensive Rebounds: Bulls opponents ranked 3rd in total offensive rebounds (1017). Only the Warriors (1165) and Kings (1018) gave up more. The Suns ranked 4th by giving up 993 offensive rebounds. Of those four teams, only the Bulls made the playoffs.
Opponents’ Blocked Shots: It was a block party in Chicago last season…and everywhere else the Bulls could be found. Bulls’ opponents ranked 3rd in total blocks (449). Only the Bobcats (488) and Timberwolves (484) had more shots swatted last season. Note that the ‘Cats won only 35 games and the ‘Wolves won only 24.
Pace: The Bulls ranked 9th in pace by virtue of averaging 93.1 possessions per 48 minutes. The faster teams were the Warriors, Knicks, Pacers, Suns, Nuggets, Lakers, Kings and Thunder. Note that six of those eight teams did not make the playoffs. Speed kills? It did in the NBA last season.
Effective Field Goal Percentage: In case you don’t know, eFG% “is a basketball statistic (shooting metric) that adjusts for the fact that a 3-point field goal is worth one more point than a 2-point field goal.” Well, the Bulls ranked 21st .493. Meanwhile, their opponents ranked 10th with an identical .493.
Offensive Rebound Percentage: ORB% is an estimate of the percentage of available offensive rebounds a team grabbed. The Bulls ranked 6th (.280). The teams ahead of them were the Trail Blazers, 76ers, Lakers, Thunder, and Jazz. The team directly behind them was the Celtics. Six of those seven teams made the playoffs, and that group included both the defending champions (Celtics) and the team that went on to win the 2009 title (Lakers).
Defensive Rebound Percentage: DRB% is an estimate of the percentage of available defensive rebounds a team grabbed. The Bulls ranked (ugh) a miserable 28th (.709), ahead of only the Kings and Warriors.
Attendence: People really were lovin’ it live last season, considering the fact that the Bulls ranked 2nd in total attendence (868,667). Only the Pistons had more fans show up (896,971). The Trail Blazers came in 3rd (841,499).