The Chicago Bulls Need to Become an Offensive-Minded Team Moving Forward

Social Navigation


The Chicago Bulls Need to Become an Offensive-Minded Team Moving Forward

Chicago Bulls

While a number of Bulls players have been spotted playing in Chicago, workouts at the Advocate Center have been allowed only on an individual basis. But on September 21st, that’s going to change. For the first time in about seven months (and until at least October 6th), Bulls players will share the floor for official on-court drills and 5-on-5 work.

And although we’ve discussed the inherent, intangible benefits of getting the band back together for a franchise with a young and inexperienced roster, a new front office, and no head coach, this is ALSO a great opportunity for the Bulls to get a head start on some much-needed on-court improvements.

Lead assistant coach Chris Fleming is expected to run the show over the next couple of weeks. Praised for his work on the offensive side of the ball, he might actually be the perfect person to help transition this roster into the new era of Bulls basketball. What I mean by that is all signs point to the Bulls implementing a much more offensive-minded approach in seasons to come. Not only has that become the wave of the future in the NBA, but it also clearly fits the skill-set provided by the players.

On top of that, Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley both come from organizations that have recently had a greater focus on scoring the basketball. Karnisovas hails from Denver, a team that has finished top-10 in offensive rating four seasons in a row (their highest defensive-rating in that stretch was 10th place in 2018-19). Meanwhile, Eversley comes from Philadelphia, where the 76ers have had a top-15 offense in each of the last three seasons (they’ve still managed to play well on the defensive end of the ball, though, finishing in the top-10 in two of those seasons).

As for the Bulls, they have finished with a top-15 offense only four times in the last 20 seasons (2008-09, 2010-11, 2011-12, and 2014-15). Defense has been such a priority that only once over that span did the team finish with an offensive rating that was higher than its defensive rating (2017-18 under Hoiberg when the Bulls finished 26th in OFFRTG and 28th in DEFRTG).

Obviously, boasting a good defense is a good thing. We all saw how well it worked during the Thibs years. But we can’t ignore the fact that the makeup of the league leaders has been shifting towards elite offensive teams for a while now. Focusing on improvements from that side of the ball will likely put the Bulls in the best position to win a championship.

Think about the four teams in the mix right now; they had the 4th (Celtics), 5th (Nuggets), 7th (Heat), and 11th (Lakers) offenses during the regular season. The only team to play better defense than offense was the Lakers (3rd).

The main point here is simply that this new Bulls era will likely be accompanied by a much different style of play – one the Bulls kind of attempted to implement with Hoiberg before chickening out and turning to Boylen. Sure, Karnisovas may still hire a coach with plenty of experience on the defensive end, but the goal to reinvent the Bulls offensive image will be clear.

Note: I know Wes Unseld Jr. is a popular candidate right now, and he’s technically the “defensive coordinator” for the Nuggets, but I wouldn’t call him another defensive-minded coach. Before joining in Denver, he worked plenty on offense, and he just seems to be an overall well-rounded coach. 

What the Bulls can do over the next couple of weeks is lay the groundwork for this improved offense: Get a feel for how Zach LaVine, Coby White, and Lauri Markkanen coexist; figure out how to better share the wealth, find out how Carter Jr. fits into the picture; and learn what areas can be most improved via the draft and free agency. At the end of the day, a major bump in the team’s 29th offensive rating needs to be a goal for next season, and achieving that goal can start now.



Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.