The Bulls' 3-Point Shooting is Already a Problem

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The Bulls’ 3-Point Shooting is Already a Problem

Chicago Bulls

The Chicago Bulls chose not to address an obvious hole this offseason, and it’s taken only three games for it to bite them in the butt (…again).

Last year’s roster shot just 28.8 3-point attempts per game, which comfortably sat as the fewest in the league behind the Wizards (30.6). If we look at the total number of attempts taken, they checked in 148 attempts away from the Wizards’ tally, which happened to make up the 2nd-greatest difference between the bottom two teams in the NBA over the past eight seasons (the last-place Knicks took 149 fewer attempts than the 29th-place Spurs in 2019-20).

In other words, the Bulls were a serious and problematic outlier when it came to 3-point volume last season, and one would think changing that would be a goal for several reasons. Not only are well-rounded teams the best teams in the NBA, but the rest of the league has embraced the 3-ball like Adam Silver’s child. Refusing to acknowledge that and adapt will leave a team on the outside looking in when it comes to true contention, and the Bulls run the risk of that happening yet again this season.

While the team does sit 20th in 3PAs over their first three games of the season, they happen to sit second-to-last in 3-point field goal percentage behind only the 0-3 Los Angeles Lakers. Data Analyst Kirk Goldsberry plotted the early-season data below, and it perfectly illustrates just how inept this Bulls team can be from long range.

Grab your handy-dandy puke bucket and look:

I guess I should clarify that ranking in the bottom third in 3-point attempts per game doesn’t have to be a problem in isolation. We saw the Bulls shoot a tremendously low volume last season but still rise to the top of the Eastern Conference. However, that was because they held the league’s top field goal percentage up until mid-January. This ability to knock down the few attempts they took brushed any problems under the rug. Take away that top-tier efficiency, though, and we see how problematic the decision not to invest in more reliable shooting can be.

Indeed, after both Lonzo Ball and Zach LaVine suffered knee injuries on January 14, we saw the Bulls’ 3-point shooting percentage drop from 38.5 to 35.2, which ranked just 22nd in the NBA. There is no question this significant drop-off behind the 3-point line played a role in the team’s overall second-half shortcomings. And again, it made pretty darn clear that adding more dependable 3-point shooting in the offseason should have been a priority.

Fast forward to the home opener of the 2022-23 regular season, however, and the Bulls were facing their same old struggles from long range. They went just 7-29 from behind the arc compared to Cleveland’s 16-27 performance. While the Cavs deserve their props for how they shot the ball, the Bulls also painfully reminded us that they aren’t equipped to handle a shootout (which is particularly unfortunate when we consider some of their other holes on the defensive end).

The point of this post isn’t to express panic. After all, it’s not like I thought adding Goran Dragic, Andre Drummond, and Dalen Terry was going to fix this problem. But the lack of roster change this offseason seemed to imply that the Bulls believed they could handle this problem through internal development or a change in scheme. To this (albeit very early) point, that hasn’t happened, and I struggle to see a path where it does.

Author: Elias Schuster

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