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.

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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:

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Carlos Boozer has the ball down in the post, and all four of his teammates are moving…
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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.
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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.
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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:
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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.
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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.
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DeRozan passed the ball to Amir, who passed it to Rudy up top. Still no one else has moved.
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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…

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