Team need: Contain opposing big men

The 2009-10 Bulls cant let guys like this own the paint.

The 2009-10 Bulls can't let guys like this own the paint.

The Bulls faced a recurring problem over the course of the 2008-09 season: They could not contain opposing big men. Even the bad ones. Stiffs (or at least non-premier bigs) like Anderson Varejao, Ben Wallace, Darko Milicic, Joel Przybilla, Nick Collison, Troy Murphy and Zaza Pachulia all enjoyed big games and/or season highs against the Chicago interior defense. That’s not good.

The always amazing published NBA Team by Position Stats as well as NBA Team by Position Ranks. These pages provide all sorts of interesting little tidbits, such as the fact that the Bulls ranked 29th in scoring defense at the center position. Only the defenseless Golden State Warriors allowed opposing centers to score more points per game. Furthermore, the Bulls ranked 24th in scoring defense at the power forward position. They also ranked 23rd (at center) and 28th (at power forward) in defensive rebounding. So over the course of the season, Bulls opponents got about 40 PPG and 25 RPG out of their C and PF combos. Yikes.

If you peruse the various stats and ranks provided, you’ll notice that the Chicago front court was consistently outperformed last season. This is best evidenced by the Player Efficiency Rating (PER) averages. In case you’re not familiar with PER, it’s John Hollinger’s all-in-one basketball rating, which combines all of a player’s statistical contributions into a single number. It’s not a final evaluation of a player’s worth, but it does provide a snapshot of a player’s measurable contributions.

Anyway, PER-wise, the Bulls consistently outperformed their opponents at the point guard, shooting guard and small forward positions. However, the Bulls averaged PERs of 17.0 at power forward and 17.8 at center…while giving up PERs of 19.2 and 20.2. That equates to net losses at those positions of -2.2 and -2.3.

For a little additional perspective, the PER reference guide rates a 20 as a “Borderline All-Star.” This means that opposing power forwards and centers were playing at a borderline All-Star level against the Bulls…on average. Ironically, the Bulls’ best PER differential was at shooting guard, where they were +2.6 (which was good for the 7th best PER differential at that position in the league). So maybe the team’s defensive woes weren’t all Ben Gordon’s fault after all.


6 Responses to Team need: Contain opposing big men

    Brad S. September 29, 2009 at 2:10 pm #

    Look out, Matt. I sounds a little like you are “hating” on the Bulls bigs. …Which includes “second to none” Tyrus!

    Boppinbob September 29, 2009 at 2:59 pm #

    This confirms what all Bulls fans know. We need to improve at PF and C. We won’t do that with Tyrus working on his jumper. He needs to work on blocking out and rebounding. Aaron Gray needs to make a step up and prove he is worth the investment, and Jerome James needs to give the Bulls some solid minutes. If that can happen maybe Joakim Noah can play his true position of PF instead of C. I know this is a day dream but if the Bulls can get 40-48 minutes of center play from B. Miller, Aaron Gray and Jerome James it could lead to a much stronger Bulls team with Noah as starting PF and Tyrus coming off the bench. I stress day dream.

    Brad S. September 29, 2009 at 6:02 pm #

    Yeah, Boppin, it is a daydream.

    …But your abso-freakin-lutely right!

  4. Brandon September 29, 2009 at 9:27 pm #

    You guys are forgetting about the draft pick of Taj Gibson and the face that Jerome James has a couple of months, may i say it again months till he returns and that is also depending on his shape and from what i hear he is quite a big boy now-a-days so James could not even see the floor this year if ever again due to his age of 33 and terrible stats. But i do agree Aaron Gray needs more playing time. They want to see what he can do but they dont give it to him and when they have he produces the #’s they need

    felipe garcia September 30, 2009 at 11:30 pm #

    Let hope that the bulls new Center coach will teach the Bulls bigs how to protect the basket and block like Shaq. lol

    felipe garcia September 30, 2009 at 11:31 pm #

    block out like Shaq*

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