Don’t Worry, Jim Boylen Still Really Likes the Bulls Shot Profile …

The Bulls have the 27th-ranked offense in the NBA, but don’t expect Jim Boylen to tell you that.

When it comes to answering the tough questions about the team’s shooting woes, Boylen always turns to his trusty shot profile.

“We have areas on the floor that we really value. A rim-2, which is right at the rim in the restricted area, or a corner 3, those are your highest-valued shots,” Boylen told NBC Sports Chicago. “Then you have a mid shot and an above-the-break 3. There are four distinct areas that we talk about. You would like more of the rim-twos and the corner 3s because those are the most valuable shots.”

To his credit, the Bulls do get off a fair amount of what the analytics would consider “good shots.” The team ranks second in the league in shots that are five or fewer feet from the rim and take the 9th-most 3-pointers in the NBA. Even better, the Bulls get the 6th-most wide-open 3-point attempts per game.

So Boylen’s right to point out that the shots are there, but he fails to mention one key point – the Bulls aren’t making them. The team shoots the 4th-worst in the league from five or fewer feet from the rim. They also shoot only 34.8 percent (22nd in the league) from behind the arc. And on those wide-open shots, they’re knocking down only 37.2 percent, which is 20th in the NBA.

Naturally, this has been the storyline for the Bulls all season long, as Boylen has continued to claim the team is “working on” hitting these high-percentage shots. All of which relates back to a post we did earlier this season, where we wrote the following:

By not changing the scheme, Boylen is basically admitting that he believes if the numbers say it works, then eventually it will work. But those numbers only say it works when the *right* talent is on the court.

Boylen can point to his shot profile all he wants, but his players aren’t knocking down shots and executing to the point where this shot profile is beneficial. And as we’ve also already discussed, several of the players on this team love the mid-range shot. We’ve even seen part of Coby White’s success over the last couple of games come from taking more of these looks. On Tuesday against Oklahoma City, White took six mid-range shots and knocked down four (against Washington he had three).

White also knocked down a bunch of 3’s and got to the rim, but those mid-range shots for White specifically can feel almost as “high-percentage” as a corner three depending on the situation. And if the threat of those shots being attempted (and made) is real, White may be able to open up the court for himself and others in different, unexpected ways.

The point being, throughout the entire season Boylen hasn’t moved past his hard-headed belief that the Bulls must follow the crowd, even when it isn’t working for his group. We are all for advanced analytics, but anyone worth their salt will tell you that nothing is supposed to be a one-size-fits-all solution. So when Boylen’s own players have had to take matters into their own hands at times to help this team knock down shots, it just doesn’t inspire much confidence.

(Photo by Getty Images)

written by

Elias Schuster is the Lead Chicago Bulls writer at Bleacher Nation. He started with BN full-time in 2019 immediately after graduating from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign with a degree in Journalism (yes, he started with the Jim Boylen Era). Since joining, Elias has been the driving force behind Bulls and NBA content for both the site and social accounts. You can follow him on Twitter/X @Schuster_Elias.

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