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The Chicago Bulls used to hang their hat on defensive rebounding. Now they're getting killed on the glass.

Will Gottlieb Avatar
March 30, 2023

The Bulls formula to winning games is to dominate the four factors (scoring efficiency, preventing offensive rebounding, turnovers and free throws) in order to make up for their lack of three point shooting.

That formula didn’t work so well for them in Wednesday’s 121-110 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Bulls typically rely on strong efficiency because of their ability to score through DeMar DeRozan in the mid-range, Nikola Vucevic in the post and Zach LaVine on catch-and-shoot threes. DeRozan is so good at getting to his spots, they don’t have to move the ball all that much, which reduces the probability of turnovers. DeRozan and LaVine are also particularly good at using craft to draw fouls on jumpers or driving to the rim.

Best of all, if the opponent is taking the ball out of the rim every time, there’s no opportunity for transition points.

On the other end, Vucevic is one of the premier defensive rebounders in the league, and they can prevent offensive rebounds turning into second chance points.

It’s a good formula when things are working. But Wednesday, the Bulls were not so fortunate.

Offensive Rebounds: Lakers 13, Bulls 6

Free Throw attempts: Lakers 30, Bulls 13

Turnovers: Lakers 15, Bulls 14

Effective field goal percentage: Lakers 57.1 percent, Bulls 56.9 percent

The surprising part is the opponents offensive rebounding. The Bulls hung their hat on grabbing defensive rebounds all of last season and through the All Star Break this year. Since then, opponents averaging 10.4 offensive rebounds per game against the Bulls since the break compared to 9.5 before. They have gone from the third ranked defensive rebounding team to the 24th in the 16 games post-All Star.

“When jump shots go up, generally those shots are not going to be rebounded in the lane,” Billy Donovan said. “They either bounce outside the lane around the block or they come up to the high elbows. We had too many guys running underneath to the free throw line, and the only rebound we were going to come down with was one that went through the net.”

The key is to secure the blocks and elbows without getting too far underneath the rim. Sometimes, guards can float downwards to try to help ward off the likes of Anthony Davis and LeBron James, but that can leave them vulnerable to long rebounds.

“If you’re above the break, nine times out of ten, you probably got to secure the lane line, get to the elbows,” Coby White told CHGO after the game. “It gets tricky sometimes especially with like AD, LeBron, because bigger guys, stronger guys you want to crack down and help. But then if it’s a three-point shot, it can go to a long rebound so it flies over your head. It’s tricky though. We’re not the biggest team, so guards try to go in and help and it’s all about reading what’s the best decision.”

Andre Drummond’s mental health leave

Tuesday afternoon, Andre Drummond posted that he would be stepping away from his social media accounts, citing his need to focus on mental health.

He was ruled out of Wednesday night’s game for personal reasons.

“Your heart goes out for everybody,” Donovan said pre-game. “There’s also a human side, a personal side to all these guys. You feel bad any time anyone is going through something like that. You try to give as much support as you can. We have the resources inside the organization to help.”

It’s always inspiring when players use their platform to address mental health and show their human side — good or bad.

“Sometimes when people look at these guys and see them play and see these NBA players stars and all this stuff that comes with it, they think, ‘Gosh, their lives must be absolutely perfect.’ And they’re not,” Donovan said. “We’re all flawed. We all have challenges and issues to deal with. Sometimes there’s maybe a level of inspiration or hope that he can give somebody.”

Donovan said the hope is that Drummond will be able to travel with the team for their upcoming matchup against Memphis on Friday.

Of course, his mental health is the priority and hopefully he is taking the steps he needs to in order to improve himself.

Play In Updates:

With tonight’s loss the Bulls fall two games behind Toronto in the ninth seed and Atlanta in the eighth seed.

Up Next:

Bulls go to Charlotte to play against the Hornets on Friday night before returning home for a Sunday matinee against the Grizzlies.

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