Jim Boylen has coached his first preseason game at the helm of the Chicago Bulls. Let’s take a look at what the new man in charge had to say about his team’s performance.
- The Score’s Tony Gill provided this short video of Boylen’s opening postgame remarks, so give it a quick watch.
— Tony Gill (@tonygill670) October 8, 2019
- Boylen made sure to emphasize the team’s 38 three-point attempts, and rightfully so. After a season where the team ranked 27th in attempts per game and last in makes, revamping the game plan was a must. Clearly, this coaching staff gave their players the green light to pop up the ball, and while the percentage wasn’t the best (31.6 percent), the only real way to start sinking them is to start taking them.
- Oh, and Denzel Valentine took this opportunity and ran with it. In his first game since April of 2018, the guard put up seven three’s (though he drained just two). Before you go and bust his basketballs (hehe), keep in mind his shooting form looked pretty nice. Remember: During the 2017-18 season, he shot 38.6 percent from downtown.
- Heading into the offseason, taking more three’s was an obvious area of improvement, so I’m actually more impressed with the 38 free throw attempts last night. According to Boylen, the Bulls have the multi-ballhandler system to thank for that: “We’re going to take this two weeks, 10 days, whatever it is to look at everybody and figure it out,” Boylen said. “What you’ve seen though is Coby was on the floor and maybe he was matched up with the point guard defensively but he played shooting guard because he’s a baller. He’s just a guy who plays. Sato, the same thing. I had a lineup where Sato was guarding the small forward but he brought the ball up. I think that makes us hard to guard. I think that’s a reason we shot 38 free throws because we got a lot of people driving the ball and handling the ball.”
- I know it’s only game one, but the shot chart tells the whole story. The Bulls’ makes came either inside the paint or outside the three-point line. Nothing in between. A very encouraging note was the team’s two rookies earned the most trips to the line. Coby White (5-8) and Daniel Gafford (6-8) each shot eight free throws. Gafford’s ability to draw contact came as an especially pleasant surprise, after he struggled to do so in Summer League. He had one stellar game with 10 free throw attempts against the Hornets, but other than that, the best he got was four attempts in games against the Pelicans and Lakers. Rather than Boylen feeding the paint like he did last year, I like this whole driving into the paint thing a lot better.
- Speaking of Gafford, Boylen was pleased with what he saw last night: “His energy is off the charts … I’m happy for him because I’ve been all over his butt, honestly,” Boylen said via The Chicago Tribune.
- Although, even considering how well Gafford played, it sure does sound like he still has a ways to go before proving he can be the primary backup to Wendell Carter Jr: “The one thing we have to do is get healthy, and that’ll be an adjustment when Carter comes back and Kornet comes back,” Boylen said, “because they’re gonna be in that rotation. So we’ll just keep doing the best we can, that’s all we can do. We’ll evaluate it film-wise, we’ll evaluate it statistically, and I’m a big gut guy, too. So we’ll see where that goes.”
- If one thing’s for sure, Kornet offers a vastly different skill set than Gafford. He has the ability to stretch the floor and add to that three-point attack this team desperately needs to create. The athleticism and pure burst of energy that Gafford brings to the floor may catch your eye, but Kornet’s experience and shooting ability (plus, he’s still seven-foot-one) is very intriguing on its own.
- Where does the team need to improve the most after game one? Defense (via The Athletic): “Where we struggled and where they exploited us was our individual, one-on-one defense,” Boylen said. “They spread us out, which they do to everybody, and they drove us. And it’s great, because now the film shows what we’ve been talking about, that that’s a big area of improvement for us. That’s a good thing.”
- Even when the Bulls tested out their three-man backcourt, they just didn’t look quick enough. The Bucks were able to space the floor well, and the Bulls were not able to rotate efficiently. It’ll be interesting to see how this develops.