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TomShoe's Player Profiles: Chicago Bulls

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TomShoe's Player Profiles: Chicago Bulls

So, it turns out "Mr. PER" John Hollinger is putting up his updated player profiles for this year. I know many people want to look at them, but ESPN can be a real B- when they're putting up paywalls and shoving the benefits of insider in your face every other article. So, for sh*ts and giggles, also because I'm pulling my hair out waiting for either Oct. 5 (Start of the preseason), or Oct. 30 (start of the regular season), I might as well post them here, for nbadraft.net and the whole internet to enjoy.

Aww yeah, this is a good one, and I know you'll like it, featuring Former MVP Derrick Rose :)

Bulls up, Hawks tomorrow, Nuggets coming Wednesday. Enjoy.

-TomShoe

PROJECTED STARTERS

DERRICK ROSE, PG

Hollinger's 2012-13 Projections

PTS
REB
AST
PER

27.3
3.8
8.9
24.9

Stats are per 40 minutes | Hollinger player card

Scouting report
+ Dynamic scoring point guard with good size and elite athleticism.
+ Outstanding finisher, especially in transition. Average shooter. Excels at runners.
+ Rebounds well for his size. Improved defender. Killer left-to-right crossover.

Analysis
Rose produced a reasonable facsimile of his MVP season the year before, except that he missed half of the 2011-12 campaign. Rose played only 39 games and, of course, tore up his knee in the first game of the playoffs against Philadelphia. He'll be lucky to play anywhere near 39 games this season, with the injury expected to keep him out until March or so, but the more pressing concern is whether he can come back as the same player.

Getting athleticism and power from his knees is more important for Rose than it is for most players -- he shot only 31.3 percent on 3s and 36.7 percent on long 2s last season and has put up similar numbers throughout his career. It's his ability to get to the basket and explode toward the rim that sets him apart. (Side note: Rose also had the league's second-lowest assist quality and could stand to improve his court vision.)

Based on the experience of others, the expectation is that his return this spring might be a bit rocky as he works out the kinks, and that his 2013-14 might be much better. The Bulls appear to be proceeding with the same mindset, judging by their offseason moves. The good news is that Rose will be just 24 on opening day, giving him plenty of time to recover and continue improving.

RICHARD HAMILTON, SG

Hollinger's 2012-13 Projections

PTS
REB
AST
PER

16.8
3.6
4.6
11.8

Stats are per 40 minutes | Hollinger player card

Scouting report
+ Fit, thin, midrange jump shooter who excels moving without the ball.
+ Stopped drawing fouls in 2011-12. Good transition player. Lacks strength.
+ Poor rebounder. Solid passer and ball handler. Can defend quick guards.

Analysis
Hamilton played only 28 games, so take the shooting numbers with a grain of salt, but of more lasting concern was the demise of his free throw attempts. Without those, he's a really ordinary player because more than half his shots are long 2s -- in fact, he took a higher proportion of his shots from that distance than any other player in the league (see chart). In the past he's been able to draw a fair number of fouls with shot fakes and moves off the ball, but last season only three shooting guards had a worse rate of free throw attempts per field goal attempt; Hamilton had only 37 free throw attempts all season.
Largest % of shots as midrange jumpers, perimeter players

Player
Team
Pct. of FGA from 10-23 feet

Richard Hamilton
Chi
61.8

Charles Jenkins
GS
60.0

Gerald Henderson
Cha
58.4

Grant Hill
Phx
56.3

Evan Turner
Phi
56.0

Min. 500 minutes. Source: Hoopdata.com

The result of that was a 50.0 TS%, which ranked in the bottom 10 among shooting guards and wasn't anywhere near good enough for a primary offensive option. It didn't help that his 39.8 percent mark on long 2s wasn't up to his usual caliber, but that's a secondary story if he can't earn any free throws.

Defensively, Hamilton isn't exactly renowned as an ace, and he blocked one shot the entire season. He tends to stay at home and not take chances, and he's sometimes better when he can cross-match against point guards, but Chicago gave up 4.0 points per 100 possessions more with him on the court. You'd wonder if he would be better off playing off the bench, where his shot creation would be more valuable with Chicago's fairly limited unit. But in any role he can't have such a high usage rate and produce this inefficiently.

LUOL DENG, SF

Hollinger's 2012-13 Projections

PTS
REB
AST
PER

15.6
6.5
2.9
14.0

Stats are per 40 minutes | Hollinger player card

Scouting report
+ Big, long wing who can shoot over the top of defenders. Good athlete.
+ Likes to go right off one dribble for the jumper. Not a creative offensive player.
+ Excellent defender due to his size, mobility and effort. Average shooter.

Analysis
The All-Star selection was a bit of a joke -- Deng's PER was a career low, not to mention below the league average -- but Deng's play warranted praise in several areas. First, he was hampered by torn wrist ligaments all season and gutted it out anyway. This especially affected his ballhandling -- less than a quarter of his shots were at the rim and his free throw rate dropped, as Deng just didn't have the wherewithal to get to the basket consistently.

Second, the hard work he has put in to make himself a 3-point shooter really paid off. Deng made 36.7 percent of his 3s while taking more than four a game, somewhat offsetting a miserable 43.0 percent mark on 2s. As a result of the latter, however, Deng's TS% was a rather poor 50.0.

Defensively, however, he's an ace. Deng is bigger and longer than just about every wing in the league, he moves well, and he never takes a night off. Few are more adept at suffocating big wing players, and he can move up and play some 4 too. (We may see much more of that this season with Omer Asik gone.) Opposing small forwards had just an 11.3 PER against him, according to 82games.com, and the Bulls gave up 1.7 points per 100 possessions fewer with him on the court ... even though the Bulls' bench generally had a much better defensive plus-minus than the starters last season.

CARLOS BOOZER, PF

Hollinger's 2012-13 Projections

PTS
REB
AST
PER

19.5
11.2
2.6
18.5

Stats are per 40 minutes | Hollinger player card

Scouting report
+ Bruising, high-scoring forward who is the best weak-hand finisher in the game.
+ Shoots high-arcing midrange jumper and can score in the post. Doesn't draw fouls.
+ Excellent rebounder but a subpar defender. Lacks both length and intensity.

Analysis
Boozer failed as a leading man when Derrick Rose went out in the first round of the playoffs, but his regular season showed him to be a pretty good second option. Boozer shot 53.2 percent overall and was particularly good on short-range shots around the basket, posting the league's best shooting percentage from 3 to 9 feet (see chart). Boozer wasn't chopped liver from the other distances either, hitting 68.1 percent in the immediate basket area and a stellar 44.2 percent of his long 2s.
Best shooting percentage from 3-9 feet, 2011-12

Player
Tea
Pct.

Carlos Boozer
Chi
53.8

LaMarcus Aldridge
Por
52.1

Roy Hibbert
Ind
51.1

Chris Paul
LAC
49.7

Joe Johnson
Atl
48.5

Min. 100 attempts. Source: Hoopdata.com

So what's the problem? He didn't draw any fouls. Boozer's 2.1 free throw attempts per game were barely half what he averaged the season before. As a result, despite his stellar percentages at every range from the floor, his TS% was just 20th among power forwards. He was still a solid option at that level, but hardly the elite 4 Chicago thought it paid for in the summer of 2010.

Defensively, Boozer is Chicago's worst frontcourt player, but the excellence of the other three made him look worse: Chicago gave up 8.6 points per 100 possessions more with him on the court. While he was 11th in rebound rate among power forwards, his help defense was pretty deficient, consisting largely of screaming loudly that a pick was coming before pretending to stop the ball handler. He also has short arms and doesn't always sprint back, making him something of a magnet for criticism in the Windy City.

Here's the interesting nugget lying within, however: For a second straight season, Boozer defended much better as a 5, allowing just a 12.7 opponent PER when he played center according to 82games.com. With the departure of Omer Asik, it's possible he could play there more often with the Bulls' second unit.

JOAKIM NOAH, C

Hollinger's 2012-13 Projections

PTS
REB
AST
PER

13.1
12.8
3.2
18.3

Stats are per 40 minutes | Hollinger player card

Scouting report
+ Energetic, hustling center who crashes the boards, runs the floor and defends.
+ Strong help defender and great teammate. Emphatic finisher around the basket.
+ Poor shooter with side-spinning delivery. Good passer and ball handler.

Analysis
Noah stayed in the lineup all season and had his best season as a pro. Had he played more than 30 minutes a night he easily could have made the All-Star team. Noah's scoring and rebounding rates didn't change, but he developed his ball skills further and now is among the best centers in this area; last season he was fifth at his position in pure point rating. Minus Derrick Rose for much of this coming season, expect Chicago to run even more actions through Noah out of the high post.

Noah's shooting was a bit disappointing -- he converted only 58.7 percent in the basket area -- but he draws fouls and, despite an awkward delivery, makes his free throws. Surprisingly, he's been in the mid-70s for three straight seasons. He remains a top-notch rebounder too, finishing 15th among centers overall and eighth on the offensive glass.

Defensively, however, Noah's numbers weren't as strong as his reputation. The Bulls gave up 8.0 points per 100 possessions more with him on the court. While that's partly a reflection of the Bulls' bench strength and partly a condemnation of frontcourt partner Carlos Boozer, even the more advanced regularized adjusted plus-minus saw him as a neutral defender. His rates of blocks and steals were fairly low, too. While I would still argue he's well above average at this end -- he had a monstrous Synergy rating in 2010-11 and a strong one even last season -- that theory will be tested more severely with Omer Asik's departure.


RESERVES

TAJ GIBSON, F

Hollinger's 2012-13 Projections

PTS
REB
AST
PER

14.1
10.3
1.5
15.6

Stats are per 40 minutes | Hollinger player card

Scouting report
+ Athletic, lean forward who can finish around the basket and run the floor.
+ Excellent defensive player who can block shots, help guards and rebound.
+ Mediocre shooter but draws fouls and crashes the offensive glass.

Analysis
We already knew Gibson was a beast on defense, but his progress offensively last season was a pleasant surprise. Gibson pumped in 15.1 points per 40 minutes with decent efficiency, and although his midrange jumper remains erratic -- he took nearly three a game and made only 34.8 percent of them -- he countered with a 65.7 percent mark in the basket area, including some devastating two-hand power dunks.

Meanwhile, Gibson ranked second among power forwards in blocks per minute, and his defensive stats are otherworldly. Chicago gave up a whopping 10.5 points per 100 possessions fewer with Gibson on the court, and this was already a dominant defensive team. Opposing power forwards mustered only a 12.6 PER against him, according to 82games.com, but it was his help defense that really stood out -- Gibson can comfortably switch on guards and lock them up.

Amazingly, Gibson played only 20.4 minutes per game, a number that will have to increase significantly if he plays this well again. Gibson was more productive than Carlos Boozer on most nights, and Chicago can also use the two together more often now that Omer Asik has departed. He's already 27 years old, so we shouldn't expect him to progress much from this point, but Gibson is one of the league's most underrated players right now.

KIRK HINRICH, PG

Hollinger's 2012-13 Projections

PTS
REB
AST
PER

10.1
3.1
4.5
8.7

Stats are per 40 minutes | Hollinger player card

Scouting report
+ Combo guard who plays better as a 2. Has lost athleticism and burst.
+ Rarely attacks the rim or breaks down the D. Just an average long-range shooter.
+ Tough, active wing defender but struggles to check quick point guards.

Analysis
Hinrich's season stats lead one to the worrying thought that he might be in rapid decline, but a view of his splits offers more hope that he can be redeemed. Hinrich came out rusty after the lockout and an early season injury, shooting 33.7 percent before the All-Star break, but shot much better afterward -- 38.4 percent on 3s, 44.8 percent overall -- and the Hawks played well with him starting at the 2.

One thing that's obvious from his tenure as a Hawk is that he's much more effective as a 2 than a 1, at both ends of the floor. Atlanta played some of its best ball late in the season with Hinrich starting at the off guard, where he can be a defensive menace and spot up on the weak side.

That said, it's also obvious he's lost quite a bit from his prime. Even the good part of his season was barely adequate, with just a point every 10 minutes. Hinrich never gets to the line and has basically stopped rebounding. Only one shot in six came at the rim, and that's a tough way to make a living unless you're an elite shooter. Hinrich isn't.

Defensively, he can't handle quick point guards anymore but he's still great against wing isos. Although he gives up inches on the wing he's great at crowding opponents and taking away their space. Opposing 2s had just an 11.0 PER against him, according to 82games.com.

VLADIMIR RADMANOVIC, F

Hollinger's 2012-13 Projections

PTS
REB
AST
PER

11.3
7.3
2.9
11.5

Stats are per 40 minutes | Hollinger player card

Scouting report
+ Tall, sweet-shooting combo forward. Disastrously bad ball handler.
+ Good feet on defense but lacks strength and doesn't always play hard.
+ Struggled to defend 4s. Can't create own shot. Rarely gets to line.

Analysis
His 37.6 percent shooting might not seem too great, but Radmanovic embraced his role and filled it well. Nearly two-thirds of his shots were 3-pointers and he made 37.0 percent of them, so he had a decent TS% despite his wayward shooting inside the arc. And he was less turnover-prone than in other seasons, moving the ball quickly rather than getting adventuresome with his shaky handle.

The best thing in his favor, though, is that at 31 Radmanovic still moves well. He often played small forward and defended the position adequately, and his rebound rate nearly set a career high. He again had a surprisingly strong rate of blocked shots, too. Synergy rated him well above the curve, and according to 82games.com he did particularly well at the 3 -- allowing just an 8.9 opponent PER.

Based on all that, it was a bit strange to see him nailed to the bench in the playoffs. He wasn't great, but he's a useful rotation player, and as long as he keeps his mobility he should be an effective combo forward off the bench.

NATE ROBINSON, PG

Hollinger's 2012-13 Projections

PTS
REB
AST
PER

18.1
3.4
6.6
14.7

Stats are per 40 minutes | Hollinger player card

Scouting report
+ Emotional, pint-sized guard with explosive hops. Aggressive scorer.
+ Good outside shooter but shot selection an issue. Gets out of control.
+ Strength, athleticism partly offset size on D. Loses focus, gambles and fouls.

Analysis
It now appears that Robinson's horrific 2010-11 season was an outlier. He reverted to his old form last season as one of the league's premier bench energizers and proved a tremendous low-cost pickup for Golden State. Robinson averaged nearly a point every two minutes, but the real revelation was his distribution from the point. Unbelievably, he ranked ninth in the league in pure point rating and eighth in turnover rate; in particular, his rate of 7.8 assists per 40 minutes was by far the best of his career.

As always, Robinson shot well, too. He hit 36.5 percent of his 3s and a solid 40.2 percent of his long 2s, along with a decent free throw rate. Add it all up and he was a major offensive plus, creating lots of shots for both himself and his teammates, with a respectable percentage and few turnovers.

Defensively, Robinson graded as the worst player in the league with at least 300 plays defended, according to Synergy. I don't think he was really quite that bad -- his other data wasn't nearly as negative -- but he certainly wasn't good. Robinson ranked in the top quarter of point guards in steals per minute, but only at a huge cost in missed gambles and fouls. At 5-9, it's fairly easy for opponents to play over the top of him too.

NAZR MOHAMMED, C

Hollinger's 2012-13 Projections

PTS
REB
AST
PER

11.0
9.3
0.8
11.2

Stats are per 40 minutes | Hollinger player card

Scouting report
+ Clever big man with a knack for below-rim rebounding and short-range scoring.
+ Mediocre mobility, limited leaping ability. Struggles in one-on-one defense.
+ Ugly behind-head jumper with 12-foot range. Never passes. Bad hands.

Analysis
Mohammed became the odd man out in the Thunder's frontcourt rotation once they started using more small-ball lineups, especially in the postseason. Aside from the Lakers series where an extra big man was required, he played only 21 postseason minutes and none in the Finals.

Mohammed's slippage at age 34 didn't help matters. He's always been a defensive liability, but his rebound rate fell and he averaged just 9.9 points per 40 minutes -- barely half what he'd done a season earlier. He also stopped drawing fouls completely -- only three centers got to the line less frequently -- further hammering his TS%. With such limited production, keeping him off the floor was an easy call.

MARQUIS TEAGUE, PG

Hollinger's 2012-13 Projections

PTS
REB
AST
PER

N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A

Did not play 500 NBA minutes last season | Player card

Scouting report
+ Quick point guard who can get to the basket. Decent size. Shaky outside shot.
+ Needs to improve finishing. Prone to turnovers. Iffy floor generalship.

Analysis
The younger brother of Atlanta's Jeff Teague, Marquis packs a similar game but is arguably the better athlete of the two. Despite his struggles early in the season for Kentucky, Teague's season-ending pure point rating of 0.55 wasn't bad. What would concern me more is that he shot only 44 percent on 2s.

Nonetheless, this was a great value pick by Chicago. Teague is unquestionably an NBA athlete and his struggles at the point were perhaps overstated. He may take his lumps as a rookie, but he'll be one of the league's youngest players and offers strong upside at a bargain price going forward. My Draft Rater had Teague rated as the fifth-best talent (I did a couple tweaks post-draft, but even going in I had him rated highly), so getting him at No. 29 while also filling a position need was a huge coup for the Bulls.

MARCO BELINELLI, SG

Hollinger's 2012-13 Projections

PTS
REB
AST
PER

15.8
3.3
2.2
12.0

Stats are per 40 minutes | Hollinger player card

Scouting report
+ Sweet-shooting, trigger-happy wingman. Rarely attacks the rim or draws fouls.
+ Good ball handler for his size but lacks explosiveness and doesn't see the court well.
+ Mediocre defender. Decent size and mobility, but lacks strength, leaping ability.

Analysis
We can delve into a deep breakdown of the .001 drop in his free throw percentage or the 1.0 uptick in his assist rate, but Belinelli is turning into a Groundhog Day player -- this is the fourth season in a row he's had essentially the exact same season. It wasn't a great shooting year by his standards, making 37.7 percent both on 3s and long 2s after hitting in the 40s in both distances a season earlier, and that contributed to his slight scoring dip. Otherwise, it was the same low-turnover, spot-up shooting game we've come to know.

Defensively, Belinelli still is below average, with the Hornets giving up 5.3 points per 100 possessions more with him on the court, and between that and his ho-hum PER of the past four seasons, it's getting increasingly difficult to justify the major role he's had. His shooting has value and he can do a few other things reasonably well, but realistically this is the performance we expect from the fourth wing in the rotation, not a starter. He has 124 starts over the past two seasons, but I won't be surprised if he has zero over the next two.

JIMMY BUTLER, G

Hollinger's 2012-13 Projections

PTS
REB
AST
PER

N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A

Did not play 500 NBA minutes last season | Hollinger player card

Scouting report
+ Big, overachieving wing who can play tough defense. Smart, great attitude.
+ Middling outside shooter but drew fouls in bunches as a rookie. Solid rebounder.

Analysis
Butler played bits and pieces of 42 games but didn't accomplish a whole lot, shooting only 40.5 percent while shooting mostly long 2s. However, his enormous free throw rate offset most of the damage from his shooting, allowing him to finish with a respectable TS%. Throw in solid defense and above-average rebounding for a wing, and Chicago may have itself a useful player.

The question, of course, is how much of this will carry over to more regular duty -- particularly the free throw attempts, which are the dividing line between his being moderately useful on offense and his being a millstone. The Bulls cleared the way for him to play a lot more this season, so we should have an answer fairly early.


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