The Chicago Bulls looked different with four new players entering the rotations in their loss to the San Antonio Spurs, 120-104.
There are 15 takeaways from the new-look Chicago Bulls team post-trade deadline.
- Vucevic finished with 21 points, nine rebounds, and three assists in his first start with the Bulls. Along with Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Patrick Williams, and Tomas Satoransky, he was incorporated into many new offensive shifts in the starting lineup. He was used on double-drag screens, corner/perimeter placement, the two-man games with pick-and-roll, dribble-handoffs, and his patented catch-and-pop. It was a very exciting sight to see.
- Aminu was the part of the first rotation to come off the bench in the first quarter. Aminu is in Chicago to play defense and it showed against the Spurs. He had the second-highest box plus/minus on the team behind Brown and he only scored two points in 12 minutes.
- Brown played 14 minutes and recorded eight points and three assists. He looked incredibly athletic on the floor, showing off his youth and size by scoring on a reverse layup and a foul and-one drive through the lane. He will benefit the Bulls with his defense, especially with getting back in transition and by being a slasher in the second rotation.
- Green came into the game in the fourth quarter when the Bulls had no chance of coming back in the game. He missed both of his shot attempts but recorded two emphatic blocks on defense.
- Where does Markkanen fit into the offense? The paint was crowded with Vucevic on offense and because of his use as a screen-and-roller. Markkanen looked uninvolved in the offense as he scored just 10 points and three rebounds in 26 minutes on the floor.
- Coby White finally had an excellent shooting night off the bench. He made just under 50 percent of his shots from the field to tack on 13 points, five rebounds, and four assists in 26 minutes.
- The transition offense was there. The Bulls scored 18 fast-break points against the Spurs. That is a healthy amount for a team that ranks 13th in fast break points, only scoring 11.7 per game and scoring 18 against a team that ranks sixth in transition defense, allowing just 11 points per game on fast breaks. Aminu and Brown are large instigators of the transition offense.
- Limited minutes were noticeable. With the plethora of talent added to the Bulls’ roster, some minutes are bound to decline. The minutes of Satoransky (17) and Thaddeus Young (22) dropped. Young was brought back to the bench for Vucevic. Ryan Arcidiacono, who averages 11.4 minutes per game, and Denzel Valentine, who averages 18.4 minutes, were kept to two and six minutes each, respectively.
- Piggybacking on the idea of minutes, it’s important to remember Daniel Theis did not suit up for this game but will meet the team on Monday for their game against the Golden State Warriors. He will be an effective piece to both sides of the ball because he can defend the paint well and be an excellent screener and shooter on offense.
- In their game against the Spurs, they shot the most amount of free throws since their last game against the Denver Nuggets. They shot 18 times from the charity stripe. Hopefully, that is a new direction of creating easy opportunities for themselves in the paint.
- The Bulls continued to spread the ball incredibly well. They recorded 28 assists against the Spurs, only making 43.2 percent of their total shots versus 54.1 percent of the Spurs. Their assist numbers are right on par with their 26.1 average per game, which ranks ninth in the NBA and is extremely helpful for a young team with a cutting offense.
- The young squad still has turnover issues. While 14 total in the game might not seem too bad, they recorded six in the first quarter. On the flip side, they were able to convert 11 of the Spurs’ turnovers into 22 points of those mistakes.
- Defensively, the Bulls need to focus on covering their shifts. Multiple defensive shifts were lost through Vucevic in the paint, trying to cover the most ground as the Spurs passed the ball all around him. The Bulls’ pick-and-roll defense attributed to the Spurs’ ease of scoring and inability for Vucevic to protect the rim against the Spurs.
- The Bulls struggled to contest perimeter shots against the Spurs, allowing them to make 40 percent of their three-point attempts as a team. At least in this game, no one fouled a three-point shooter which has been a recurring hiccup for the Bulls defensively this season.
- The newcomers are all excellent defenders which is a serious necessity for the Bulls. Brown took on the works of DeMar DeRozan for some possessions. Green recorded two blocks and Aminu looked terrific contesting shots from his assignments.
Nikola Vucevic said Billy Donovan asked him if he wanted to play in 4th quarter despite large deficit. He said yes because he wanted to play as much as he could with new teammates.
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) March 28, 2021
The Bulls are changing offensively, defensively, and rotationally. Bulls fans should be prepared to see a new look for the Bulls on each side of the ball. Ignoring the outcome of the first game post-trade deadline, it looks to be a powerful one offensively and hopefully an improving one defensively.