The offensive fit was clunky at times. The shot profile was heavily skewed towards above the break threes. The Bulls had a hard time figuring out the best use of his skillset.
But to start this year, Vucevic looks at home in the Bulls offense. The key is playing him more in the corners.
So far, Vucevic has connected on 7-of-10 corner three point attempts. He only made six all of last season and a combined total of 20 corner threes during his entire career.
But this is more than just having Vucevic stand in the corner and shoot threes. Billy Donovan has implemented more motion and movement before settling into their primary actions as a way to keep the defense shifting side-to-side.
All of this has helped Vucevic implement his post scoring, play making and corner shooting skills into the flow of the offense.
Here’s a two-minute breakdown (sound on) of Vucevic’s scoring and play making progression starting sets out from the corner:
“The more he gets there the more it opens up things,” Donovan said Wednesday night prior to the Bulls game against the Pelicans. “Because one it takes the other team’s big away from the basket, we can drive the ball a little bit more. And then he’s always there as an outlet. If he doesn’t have a shot, he can get into the next action.”
Vucevic has been a trooper, adapting his game to playing on the outer thirds of the court, rather than the middle the way he has for the majority of his career. And the benefits for the Bulls are massive.
In addition to his corner three shooting percentage, Vucevic is drawing opposing bigs away from the basket, opening up unencumbered driving lanes.
It’s not that I don’t want to shoot it, I’ll shoot it if I’m open,” Vucevic said early in the season. “It’s just more me not hanging around and waiting there. Trying to find ways to still do other things out of that. Even if I start in the corner I can cut out of it, I can go into a screen from there, I can do different things. So it’s not just me standing in the corner, it’s just finding ways for me to still be able to do all the other things, but from different positions. If I’m in the corner, if I’m at the top or the side, where ever I’m at, there’s ways we can do it. So that’s what we’re trying to do, be creative and move guys around.”
They’re also able to easily play into empty side pick-and-rolls between Vucevic and Zach LaVine, which are some of the most efficient half-court offense the Bulls have at their disposal.
“That’s some of my favorite plays,” LaVine said. “You’re either me coming off to the middle or him with a whole empty side popping or rolling. I don’t think there’s a lot of teams that have that capability. Now he’s not the biggest roller, but he’s probably the most skilled offensive big or one of the most skilled bigs we have in the league. Being able to get him in space and obviously me coming off being able to be a threat shooting as well, that’s one of our biggest weapons.”
Most big men play through the middle of the floor or from the dunker spot. But the Bulls have messed with the floor geometry and found success with this unorthodox structure.
And so far, Vucevic is thriving in it.
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