HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – Derrick Rose is the reigning MVP, and that ‘V’ stands for “valuable.” For 113 of 121 voters last season, Rose was the most important player in the league.
But if Rose is so critical to the Chicago Bulls’ success, how are they now 14-5 without him this season?
We’ll save the debate on whether Rose should really have been the MVP for another day. For now, we’ll just break down how the Bulls have managed to maintain the NBA’s best record despite his absence in 19 of their 53 games.
Starting with the basics, they’ve done it by maintaining a high level of play on both ends of the floor, according to NBA.com/Stats.
|With or without Rose||W||L||Pace||OffRtg||DefRtg||NetRtg|
|Games with Rose||28||6||92.6||106.5||96.2||+10.2|
|Games without Rose||14||5||90.7||104.3||95.8||+8.5|
Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions
That the Bulls have continued to be excellent defensively without Rose is no surprise. Tom Thibodeau is still their coach and they’ve always been strong defensively from top to bottom. They protect the paint, prevent corner threes and keep their opponents off the free throw line.
But to see the Bulls scoring more than 104 points per 100 possessions without Rose is a pretty big deal. That’s a rate which would rank Chicago as the seventh-best offense in the league … without their best player.
Most of the Bulls’ key offensive numbers are down slightly in their 19 games without Rose. That includes turnovers, which helps make up for the shooting regression.
|With or without Rose||2PT%||3PT%||OREB%||TO%||FTA Rate||AST/FG|
|Games with Rose||48.6%||38.3%||32.5%||15.3||.265||61.8%|
|Games without Rose||45.9%||37.7%||32.9%||14.8||.255||60.4%|
OREB% = Percentage of offensive rebounds obtained
TO% = Turnovers per 100 possessions
FTA Rate = FTA/FGA
The Bulls’ offense in games without Rose has been pretty balanced, in regard to both scoring and usage rate. Rose is among the league leaders in usage, using 30 percent of the Bulls’ possessions when he’s on the floor. And his load gets spread pretty evenly when he’s not able to play, with five guys having a usage rate between 20 and 25 percent over the 19 games.
Carlos Boozer leads the team with a usage rate of 25 percent in those games, and he’s been a slightly more efficient scorer than he’s been with Rose. One thing we might have started taking for granted over the last two seasons is that Boozer is pretty good (offensively, at least).
He missed 23 games last season and had a pretty poor postseason. So having him healthy and playing well is a boost to the Bulls’ offense, whether Rose is playing or not.
Boozer in the paint
According to Synergy Sports Technology, 24 percent of Boozer’s plays have been post-ups. He’s comfortable on both blocks and with using either hand to finish near the basket.
In addition to straight post-ups, that 24 percent includes most high-low action with Joakim Noah. The Noah-to-Boozer hookup ranks second in the league in big-to-big assists.
Most assists, big to big
|Andrew Bynum||Pau Gasol||46|
|Carlos Boozer||Joakim Noah||44|
|LaMarcus Aldridge||Marcus Camby||37|
|Pau Gasol||Andrew Bynum||28|
|Al Jefferson||Paul Millsap||28|
Noah is obviously one of the league’s best passing big men, and nobody does a better job than Boozer of taking advantage of the defender fronting the post by sealing that defender and opening up a passing lane …
Averaging 16.9 points, Boozer leads the Bulls in scoring in the 19 games without Rose. But All-Star Luol Deng isn’t far behind at 16.5.
Deng is as versatile as they come offensively. According to Synergy, he’s scored at least 10 field goals in eight different manners this season. And in the 19 games without Rose, Deng has scored 122 points from in the paint, 132 from outside the paint, and 59 from the line.
A little less than one third of Deng’s offense comes from spot-ups, catching the ball on the perimeter and scoring with a drive or jumper …
The Bulls rank sixth in the league in field goal percentage, but their misses are actually a big part of their offense. They lead the league in offensive rebounding percentage, grabbing a little less than a third of their own misses.
The Bulls are slightly below the league average in converting offensive boards in second-chance points, but only the Utah Jazz get a greater percentage of their scoring from second chances.
Most second-chance points per 100 possessions
In their 19 games without Rose, six different Bulls are averaging at least one offensive board per game, with Noah (63 total), Omer Asik (52) and Taj Gibson (50) leading the way.
Deng has 30 offensive rebounds, but leads the Bulls with 58 second-chance points in the games without Rose, taking advantage of his teammates’ work on the glass…
The Bulls obviously need Rose to win a championship. But they’ve proven this year that they won’t fall apart offensively when Rose steps off the floor. And if they have home-court advantage throughout the playoffs, it will be because they found ways to score without their star.