Chicago Bulls have historically bad defense through three games

Garrett Temple, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Garrett Temple, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Defensive improvement has to be on the forefront of the coaching staff’s plan for the progression of this Chicago Bulls team moving forward.

First-year head coach Billy Donovan and the Chicago Bulls came so very close to notching their first win of the 2020-21 regular season on Dec. 27 at home against the Golden State Warriors. To round out a three game homestand at the United Center to start out the regular season, the Bulls had a chance to at least come away with one win.

A game-winning three-pointer in the dying seconds of the fourth quarter from shooting guard Damion Lee sunk the Bulls. Lee’s clutch basket with about two seconds remaining in this Dec. 27 showdown led to the Warriors nabbing the close 129-128 victory over the Bulls.

The win for the Warriors bumped them up to a record of 1-2 on the season. And the Bulls now hit the road for the first time this season, sporting a record of 0-3. This was not really the ideal start to this weird season for Donovan and the Bulls.

However, there were at least new signs of life from this Bulls team, namely in the starting five, in the last-second loss to the Warriors over the weekend. Shooting guard Zach LaVine and center Wendell Carter Jr. had real breakthrough games, despite the loss.

But the Bulls aren’t getting many positive contributions out of the likes of second-year point guard Coby White on either end of the floor through three games.

Power forward Lauri Markkanen also continued to play well, and the Bulls got some nice offensive contributions off the bench.

The problem for Donovan and the Bulls continues to be on the defensive end of the floor, though. If the season ended today, after just three games, the Bulls would be sporting the worst defensive rating in franchise history (just shy of 116).

Chicago now ranks 27th in the NBA in points allowed per game (126.0), and 23rd in defensive rating. They also rank in the bottom 10 (if not the bottom five or three for a lot of these categories) in most significant defensive stat categories. Those key team defensive stats also includes field goal percentage, total field goals made, assists, total free-throws made, and total points.

There’s only one Bulls player through three games that even holds a defensive rating below 110 (which is shooting guard Denzel Valentine). White has the worst defensive rating on the team, at 118. WCJ, shooting guard Garrett Temple, and center Daniel Gafford aren’t doing so hot either, each with defensive ratings of 117.

What’s not helping anything either is the fact that the Bulls are leading the NBA in total turnovers (61) on the season so far. They’re not doing much to help their own cause on the defensive end of the floor.

Allowing an effective field goal percentage around 57.0, combined with leading the league in turnovers, and not really playing a lick of consistent defense in the paint, will lead to the poor results that the Bulls found through three games.

This is the first time in franchise history that the Bulls allowed at least 124 points in each of their first three games of a regular season. But this is also a season unlike any other in NBA history. Patience must still win the day in the end for this Bulls fan base, as well as the coaching staff and the players.

The specifica players that must continue to improve in particular on the defensive end of the floor from here on out this season are LaVine, White, and WCJ. They are critical pieces to this starting five and for this rebuild to continue to move in the right direction.

Next. 3 reserve players that should get more minutes. dark

Next up for the Bulls is their first road game of the season, which comes against the Washington Wizards in the nation’s capital on Dec. 29, with tip off time set for 6 p.m. CT. The Bulls get two meetings on the road, on Dec. 29 and 31, against the star guard pairing of Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal.