The Bulls Are Putting Together the NBA’s Ugliest 3-Point Shooting Stretch in Years
As the Chicago Bulls took the court in Memphis on Feb. 7, they had a chance to redeem themselves. A victory would have gotten the organization back to .500 for the first time since early November. While that record in mid-February may not have signified the kind of improvement for which this organization had initially hoped, it would have at least been a step in the right direction after a disastrous first half.
Instead, the Bulls went on to shoot a putrid 36.8 percent from the field and walk away with a 104-89 loss. With the trade deadline less than 48 hours away at that point, the loss felt like a sign sent from the basketball gods. This team had simply run its course, and it was time to shake things up.
The Bulls proceeded to do nothing and *shocker* the results stayed the same. In fact, the players couldn’t have made Arturas Karnisovas and his brain trust look sillier over the next three games.
First came a loss to the starless Nets. For a team that was trying to pride itself on “continuity” and familiarity, it was an embarrassing loss to a roster that was taped together only days prior. Then, came a loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers despite holding them to 41.9 percent shooting from the field. The Bulls also tied a season-high with 22 TOVs. Finally, the Bulls fell 100-91 to the rebuilding Orlando Magic for the second time this season. They were booed by home fans as the final buzzer sounded.
Indeed, Chicago has done the exact opposite of justifying inactive at the trade deadline, especially when we factor in the main reason why they are on this latest four-game skid.
The Bulls’ lack of 3-point shooting remains one of the most glaring weaknesses of any team in the NBA. After finishing last season taking the fewest 3-point shot attempts per game, they are on pace to do it again by taking nearly two fewer long-range shots per game than the 29th-ranked Pelicans. Over these last four games, specifically, the Bulls are a combined 20-103 from downtown
How bad is that? Well, the Bulls are the only team to hit 20 or fewer 3-pointers over a four-game span in the past five seasons. To find the last time this has happened, we’d have to go all the way back to the 2017-18 campaign when it occurred seven other times between four other teams (Knicks did it three times, Clippers did it twice, and both the T-Wolves and Spurs did it once), per Stathead. Even then, however, this Bulls’ 19.4 percent clip from behind the arc over these four games is the worst of the bunch.
In other words, yes, this is one of the single-worst shooting stretches by an NBA team in the past five seasons.
I don’t even know how you get to this point. As we said, this was a glaring problem all of last season and proved to be just as glaring of a problem during the first half of this season. The fact that the Bulls front office continued to preach the playoffs at the trade deadline but did absolutely nothing to address this is mind-boggling.
The NBA is a game of numbers. The Bulls may have finished with a better field goal percentage than both the Nets and Cavs this past week, but they lost because they were still outscored from downtown 51-15 by the Nets and 27-15 by the Cavs. You just can’t expect to win basketball games at a high rate when you’re consistently countering 3s with 2s.
All things considered, this has been one of the greatest failures of this front office thus far. Today’s NBA is dominated by long-range shooting, and the repeated failure to recognize that is truly concerning.