When it was announced that Derrick Rose would miss Friday night’s game against the Raptors, I’m sure a lot of Raptor fans breathed a sigh of relief. You would think that Chicago’s best player being out would be good news for the Raptors, right?

Well, technically, yes.

But right now, Derrick Rose isn’t the Bulls’ best player.

Since missing basically a year and a half to injury, Rose is predictably struggling to find his rhythm and shake the rust off his game. It’s going to take a while. So while Chicago is currently above .500 and sits in third place in the East, the team might be better in the short term without their former MVP. Without him, they are forced to play the team-first ball that got them to the second round of the playoffs last year without Rose.

That’s not to say they don’t need Rose. Without him, their ceiling is the second round. If he returns to pre-injury form, the Bulls have as good a chance to get the Finals as the Heat or Pacers.

Here are some basic stats for the game:

Score: 96-80 for the Bulls

The Raptors shot just 35% from the field for the game and 26% for the first half.

Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan had a combined 37 shots and 2 assists.

The only two Raptor players who shot over 40% from the field were Gay and DeRozan.

While the Raptors were never in this game, there were some bright spots. Well, one. DeMar DeRozan continued his hot shooting ways from Memphis by tying his career high in scoring, with 37 points, 28 of which came in the second half. While he didn’t contribute in other ways, without his offensive output, the Raptors probably would have scored in the 60s and the score would have looked a whole lot worse than what it ended up being. And considering it came against Chicago’s vaunted defense, that is impressive.

Screen shot 2013-11-16 at 12.21.08 AM

But while his 37 points is certainly impressive, what’s more important is whether or not his more efficient shooting is sustainable.

What’s interesting about analytics, is that they will tell you what has happened previously, and, given enough data, tell you what is most likely to happen in the future.

Take a look at his shot chart for the game:

demarshotchartNow let’s look at his shot chart from his worst shooting game, against Indiana last week:

DeRozanshotchartindOther than more three pointers, it’s not as if it’s a big difference in where DeRozan shot the ball. In both games, the majority of his shots were in the 15-20 foot range, it just so happened he hit his shots last night and missed them against Indiana.

Both Chicago and Indiana are excellent defensive teams, so it’s not as if one game came against a poor defense that allowed more open shots.

Now obviously, players go through slumps just as they get hot, but the fact is that DeRozan didn’t score more efficiently last night because he was taking better shots. He wasn’t. In fact most of his shots were contested. He scored because he just happen to be hitting a much higher percentage than he usually hits from the same places he always shoots.

In some ways, this may seem obvious. If a guy has a career night, he’s obviously hot, right? Yes. But when a player has been shooting poorly, as DeRozan has, and then suddenly breaks out, it’s important to know WHY he’s breaking out.

I think it’s safe to say he’s most likely not going to go back to shooting 37% from the field, but he’s also not going to continue to shoot 59%. So if you’re expecting this to be a glimpse of things to come, you probably need to temper your expectations, because it’s probably not going to last. A return to the norm for DeRozan, probably around 45%, is the most likely outcome.

While the calling card of the Bulls is their defense (their Defensive Rating before last night’s game was 3rd best, and that probably went up after holding the Raptors to just 35% shooting and 80 points), their offense has struggled this season, with one of the worst offenses in the league, so far. You wouldn’t have known it last night, as the Bulls moved the ball well, found the open man, and had a fluid offense and good spacing.

Take a look at this one play:

Screen shot 2013-11-15 at 11.56.48 PM
Carlos Boozer has the ball down in the post, and all four of his teammates are moving…
Screen shot 2013-11-16 at 12.02.56 AM
Just a second later, you can see Jimmy Butler setting a pick for Hinrich up top, and Luol Deng moving up to the top of the key.
Screen shot 2013-11-16 at 12.02.03 AM
Just three seconds later, Noah has flashed in the post, Boozer has passed the ball out to Hinrich, who is whipping it over to Deng, who is now at the top of the key and is about to throw it to Butler, who is now on the opposite wing.
Screen shot 2013-11-16 at 12.02.26 AM
This is one of two threes Butler made, and it came off good spacing, constant movement and quick passing. In just seven seconds, the Bulls were able to get a wide open three point shot due to their player and ball movement. We saw this type of offense all night, from the Bulls, and if they can play this way offensively with Rose, the Bulls will be a much better team than they have been.
On the other side, this is a typical play from the Raptors, last night:
Screen shot 2013-11-16 at 1.14.52 AM
DeRozan comes off the Amir pick and is trapped by Boozer. Valanciunas is in the high post, Gay is at the top of the key and Lowry is on the wing.
Screen shot 2013-11-16 at 1.15.08 AM
Four seconds have passed, and DeRozan is trying to isolate against Boozer, but Jimmy Butler is trapping him. Valanciunas has rolled down to the weakside, waiting for a rebound. No one else has moved more than a few feet. No passing lanes have opened up.
Screen shot 2013-11-16 at 1.15.49 AM
DeRozan passed the ball to Amir, who passed it to Rudy up top. Still no one else has moved.
Screen shot 2013-11-16 at 1.16.04 AM
Amir sets another pick for DeRozan, who gets a pass from Gay and takes a long two that misses. In almost nine seconds, there was little movement, and only three players touched the ball, and DeRozan ended up with an inefficient shot. And this was off a time out.
Now, it’s not as if they didn’t run better plays than the one above. They had one double screen along the baseline that is a play San Antonio often runs for Tony Parker. The big problem with the Raptors is if their initial play breaks down, it’s basically chaos after that. That’s obviously on the coach, but also on the players. In the above sequence, no one was making themselves available for a pass, possibly because their best passer, Lowry, was stuck out on the wing and never touched the ball, and neither Gay or DeRozan pass the ball much.
When a team has players that love to pass, their teammates will cut more and run harder to spots because they know they will probably get the ball if they’re open. On a team like the Raptors, the players know both DeRozan and Gay tend to play with blinders on, and even Lowry will too often throw up ill advised shots when he should pass.
Just so you don’t get completely depressed, I’ll leave you with this rather nice highlight…

  • desktom

    I thought this was a game that Jonas could dominate inside against smaller big men. WTF do I know ? They never looked for him , that poor guy running up and down the court in the first half watching 20 million dollar players hoist up contested shots and not getting a sniff? I know you writers hate on Jonas but just ordinary everyday fans would like to see the offense run like San Antonio with the majority of play ran through the low post. Once the low post is established and the double team is needed . maybe the 20 million long serving players will get open looks, but once again WTF do I know.

  • jclaw

    great example. it also struck me last night how guys are just standing around but i guess that’s not new. I’m trying to figure out what goes wrong. If you look at pic 3 from the first series and pic 2 from the second series there is a difference. For the three bulls around the arc, the raps have a defender for each of the top two but none for the left corner. When there are three raps around the arc, one bull is between the top two and one is down low offerning help down low and covering the corner. Who is out of place? Why does Demar have to come from the right corner to cover the left corner three. Did he not get to the top to cover, forcing Gay to leave the block to do so? Should Gay have already been there given that it appears he and JV are double teaming no one? (i realize that is likely a figment of screen caps but it still looks bad). Any thoughts?

    • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

      Yes, the Raptors’ defensive spacing wasn’t good. Both Rudy and DeRozan look like they’re not in the right place, but it’s hard to tell if you don’t know what the coaching staff wants them to do. In some plays, it’s obvious, but there’s obviously SOMEONE not doing their job. Is it Amir’s job to jump down and cover Noah, and let Valanciunas cover the wing? Should DeRozan do that? Should Gay hang back and cover a pass to Butler, and let Lowry take Deng, with DeRozan sliding up? Again, without knowing what their defensive assignments are in this type of situation, it’s hard to place blame. What you can see, is that no one seems to be exactly sure where they’re supposed to be.

      I was going to show a sequence where Carlos Boozer was able to post up, make a move into the paint and there wasn’t help defender within 5 feet. He should be doubled as soon as he puts the ball on the floor, considering how he’s scoring, but the Raptors let him play one on one way too much.

    • TheTyrant

      Despite the 2 blackholes, I find it astounding that NBA players can’t run cuts and create spacing when the play breaks down. As great as Thibs is a coach, there were several instances where a Bulls play broke down, but there was someone on a three point line somewhere knocking down shots.

      This team would be so much better if DD and Gay had to get rid of the ball in less than 5 seconds, and fewer than 3 dribbles

  • GoingBig

    “it’s basically chaos after that” + “their best passer, Lowry, was stuck out on the wing” + “no one was making themselves available”

    These things are on the coach. He’s got to be looking one step ahead. He needs to get the players moving and in position AFTER the 1st offensive probe has failed.

    He has to plan for failure. Because better teams keep on probing.


    What’s important is that he put up that line in a BLOWOUT. And he started pouring it in when, you know, the game was over? Hello, McFly? Was he putting up buckets when the Bulls were in complete lock-down? No.

  • Treytor

    Great post, Tim. Basically, our best players can’t make their teammates better. That is a huge problem which I’m not sure can be solved easily, especially by our current coach who doesn’t appear to have a grasp on how offenses run.

  • http://www.probballreport.com/ Stephen Brotherston

    There wasn’t much positive about last night and most of DeRozan’s and Gay’s scoring came after the Raptors were down 25 pts in the 3rd quarter = almost meaningless. Watching Noah abuse Valancuinas was especially painful, but probably should still be expected.

  • disqus_G5kd8YnGAo

    When is everyone going to realize that this team is made up of a bunch of chuckers. They will beat a good team now and then when all their sweet sweet jumpers are falling, but don’t make the mistake of thinking this will happen more than once every 10 games.

    Anyone who thought the Raps would win last night is more delusional than me hoping for the Wiggins pick.
    Tom T. (I know coaches like) all he has to say before the game is “don’t lose to this fu*#ing team or you are all cut.”

    I wouldn’t blink an eye if the Raps beat Miami by 20 because they shot 55%, knowing they will likely lose the next three against Charlotte, New York and Sacramento in blowouts lol.

    Man these guys suck.

  • Ion66

    I found myself wondering if I was watching hockey, because with all the open looks, I figured Chicago was on the powerplay. I swear they had an extra man on the floor most of the night, and he was usually on the 3 point line.

  • Bendit

    A red flag for myself was watching JV and Amir two of our best team and hardworking players looking disinterested starting right off. An ominous sign on many levels especially for JV.

    • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

      It’s one game. I think people get to focused on the minutia, sometimes. Is this a common occurrence for those two? No. One of the major strengths of both players is their motor, so I don’t see it being ominous unless it becomes a regular thing.

      • Tanks-a-lot

        It looks like they have been informed that Rudy Gay is staying with the Raptors until the end of the season.

  • Milesboyer

    Was at the game last night and the best part of it was the dog relay at halftime. Two hours and a hundred bucks wasted. This team is just boring to watch most of the time.

  • higdale

    It’s clear that DD and Gay are basically one trick ponies. They shoot a lot and not much else. Gay may get some rebounds from time to time and they both have a very good free throw % but also lead the team in turnovers. They will never make other players better because of the one dimensional IQ they possess. If you look back at DD and Gay’s comments after the Rockets game they said they are not going to apologize to anyone or stop shooting because that’s what go to guys do and even if they were out there with bowling balls they would still be shooting. Them, them, them. How many more 37 shot 2 assist games will follow? Well a lot based on the season so far. Lowry played better as a backup when Jose was running the offense and he only looks for DD and Gay or his 3 ( 0-7 last night ) when he’s on the court. Ball movement is not something these go to guys believe in. This car has no driver and it’s like three teenagers who just got their license, fight to get their chance behind the wheel to only have the experience for themselves, won’t let anyone else in the car and all Casey does is give them money for gas while he stands on the side line wondering why his teams go round and round in circles . Look in the mirror coach!

  • raptorspoo

    DD for Butler?

    Would do it in a heartbeat.

    Looks like DD learned to play ball from Bosh while he was a rook – “don’t pass up the rock!”

  • Andrey

    yuo even Demar said in interview that he didn’t anything in this game.

  • http://falseprophetsandgods.blogspot.com/ GN. FLAVIVS PHILOVERITAS

    That effort was just plain weak. Sure the bulls have some intimidating big’s, but dang; when you are chuckin’ up jumpers all the time that ain’t falling someone needs to man up and drive the lane strong. Demar did show that a lot but it was a little too late. Towards the end of the first half it looked like they were gonna try to break the franchise record for least points scored in a game(56 vs. MIN 2003) .Derozan was single-handedly responsible for keeping the record books closed.

  • http://falseprophetsandgods.blogspot.com/ GN. FLAVIVS PHILOVERITAS

    One thing i noticed last night is how great Jonas’ hands are. Man has velcro on them inhaling balls that would bounce off the fingertips of most. A big man with soft hands and and a nose for the ball can grab a lot of boards in this league. Of course I had time to watch Jonas off the ball because the game was over right after it started…

  • HogyG

    Looks like the best record in basketball didn’t fair any better against the Bulls tonight as we did the night before. The Pacers actually allowed 110 points, that’s 14 more points than our supposedly poor defense allowed. Maybe the Pacers should accept that they are stuck in mediocrity and blow it up now before they waste any more time with this group of players, haha.

    I agree that there should be more movement in our offensive schemes and would love to see more ball movement & assists then the team is currently showing. That said, DeMar’s game last night against the Bulls may end up being the best offensive performance we see against that defense all season long.

    “What’s interesting about analytics, is that they will tell you what has
    happened previously, and, given enough data, tell you what is most
    likely to happen in the future.”

    If we are talking about a player who has finished developing (like Melo for example) then this is generally a true statement. However, I have a problem when looking at DeMar’s previous numbers (or anyone who’s still developing for that matter) as it can not accurately depict what their future holds, only how they have developed so far in their career. A player who hasn’t finished maturing is going to continue to change their game until they find how to be most effective with what they’ve got. Some get to this stage quicker than others, but the adage that Charles Barkley sticks to, of “A player is what he is by his third season.” just doesn’t hold the same water in today’s NBA as it has in the past. Too many players come in to the league today without the proper coaching pedigree and developed game that the NBA saw in the 80’s for instance. Many more players are chosen by potential rather than by substance and in many instances that potential needs time to grow. While I admit that this may be the last season we see growth out of DeMar, I still believe that we WILL see growth this season never the less. And there’s no guarantee that he won’t continue to get better next year either.

    Besides, the comparison you used of only two shot charts is hardly a large enough sample size to determine much of anything from. And if you only want to use those two as the total comparison I would argue that DeMar took 5 more threes (including making two analytic threes from the corner) in the game against the bulls as well as he attacked the rim more often and with greater success too. Therefore, I would say that they are not very similar at all as you have suggested, as he tried to take advantage of better shot attempts in the Bulls game than against the Pacers.

    If you are going to use the numbers to project a player’s future, you need to have a player who has established his numbers through consecutive seasons and with similar teammates and therefore has a proper base to work from (That’s the “given enough data” part you mentioned), only then can you more fairly attempt to extrapolate an outcome from the players numbers and charts. Because of this, the analytics will only accurately track DeMar’s development at this point, not necessarily tell what his future will bring. It’s a nice way to pretend or attempt to project what may be, but for now I believe it can’t show much more than his progression.

    The thought of analytics always makes me think of the Per 36min stats out there that says that Aaron Gray would average something ridiculous like 36 points and 25 rebounds given 36 minutes per game (excuse me if I misquoted those numbers as I gave very little stock in them when I read it at the time). As much as I would love that to be true (because if so, please free Aaron Gray), I have to reluctantly say that I find it unlikely that it would happen if given the opportunity. You may believe that numbers never lie, but I know they can be manipulated to say whatever you want them to.

    • ezz_bee

      “Looks like the best record in basketball didn’t fair any better against the Bulls tonight as we did the night before. The Pacers actually allowed 110 points, that’s 14 more points than our supposedly poor defense allowed. Maybe the Pacers should accept that they are stuck in mediocrity and blow it up now before they waste any more time with this group of players, haha.”

      Reasons for the raps blowing it up and the pacers not are more than just one game, the reason the raps should be blown up is because of they’ve played over the course of the season and their chances to get to the conference finals. Pacers are a lock for the conference finals unless there is an upset. Raptors aren’t a lock for even the 8th seed. Pacers also had won 9 straight beforehand.

      ALSO even if you do want to do the one game comparison, D-Rose, former MVP was back in the line up and was SIX of ELEVEN from downtown. So even if you want to boil everything down into both teams playing the same team, it’s not really the same team, due to the impact of D-Rose. Sometimes, easy comparison’s aren’t very accurate in their reflection of reality.

      In regards to his Gray-ness… you are entirely out to lunch. His last year’s Per 36 is was 8.4 pts and 9.3 rebs. This year he’s 9.0pts and 14.4 Rebs. His career per36 is 10.3 pts and 11.1 rebs.
      He’s never had a per36 points above 15.4 (rookie season) and 14.4 rebs/36 (this year, where he’s logged a total of 20 minutes)

      It’s pretty easy to dismiss the numbers when you don’t even bother to look them up in the first place eh?

      • HogyG

        Gray’s per 36 I refer to was in reference to his projected numbers from the preseason or maybe just the first game he played this season (It actually stemmed from someone’s comment on the RR site from a couple of weeks ago, I believe it was brought up as a joke of what the numbers showed at that particular moment, not intended as a true statement for the season) and it was obvious that it would not hold. The fan had used analytics too soon (purposefully) to project a beastly Gray built beyond belief, just for a fun time!

        This example was my attempt to make the point of needing to take a proper sample size. As you showed, with a larger sample size it’s perhaps a slightly more realistic number (Though 15pts and 14rbs in his rookie year…wow. I still gotta say that advanced numbers can be used to skew the facts). I mistakenly assumed more people had read that post, if you hadn’t, of course my Gray statement sounds ludicrous, it was supposed to.

        This Raptors squad has played less than a season together since acquiring Rudy Gay, and we’re only ten games in since signing HansBro during the off-season. I believe we’ve yet to see the full potential of this group of players. I’m not saying we can’t improve upon the current roster or that there aren’t some obvious problems in the way they’ve played so far in this young season. However, I believe there is a premature movement from some of the people on this site to promote tanking this season straight from the onset. My opinion on here of the Pacers blowing up their team was simply in jest.

        Indeed, the Pacers were undefeated before playing the Bulls tonight, that is why I used them as an example. When the top team in the league can get beat by the Bulls as badly as we did just one night before (either with or without Rose), it can shed some new light on the performances of the Raptors. There are many people who would like to take the Raptors performance against the Bulls and skew it as our team just sucking, when in reality, the truth is simply our team matching up with one of the most dominant defenses in the league.

        No one should seriously think that the Pacers should blow up their team because of their result against the Bulls tonight, and neither should they come to that conclusion from the Raptors performance against them either. I’m sorry you did not understand my sarcasm, I will work on that in the future.

  • Red Baron

    I feel a bit better after watching Bulls manhandle the Pacers after manhandling our Raps. And on 2nd night of a back-to-back no less (not sure if Pacers were also playing back-to-back). Adds a bit or perspective as Pacers have been dominant and their game against the Bulls was even more of a blowout than against us. Character test against Portland!

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