Chicago Bulls: Tomas Satoransky could be major key to success

With how much first-year head coach Billy Donovan and the Chicago Bulls are seeing the second-year former North Carolina Tar Heels point guard Coby White struggle of late, something has to give from the rest of the backcourt rotation in the near future. The Bulls saw a decent start for White this season, but his play has largely waned of late.

One key piece to the backcourt rotation that Donovan and the Bulls just got back in the mix within the last week is the lengthy combo guard Tomas Satoransky. The former Washington Wizard has only played in six games so far this season for the Bulls, but he’s about the best this team has that can play at the point guard position outside of White.

While White did improve his assist-to-turnover ratio this season compared to last, he’s usually not as efficient in facilitating the offense as Sato is. White is a player that is much quicker in transition and has the ability to create his own shot more often than Sato, but the latter of those two guards has some clear advantages over the former too.

So far this season, Sato is proving to be the better on and off-ball defender, and the more consistent facilitator than White. Since his return to the rotation, Sato has provided a significant boost for the Bulls on-ball perimeter defense when he is on the floor.

What he’s specifically provided for the Chicago Bulls

In general, Sato is a steady veteran presence for this backcourt rotation that comes in handy often for Donovan. In his six games played for the Bulls so far this season (none of which he’s started in), Sato is playing just under 20 minutes per game.

He’s averaged 4.8 points per game, 1.7 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.2 blocks, and 2.0 turnovers. Sato shot 41.7 percent from the field, a much improved 40.0 percent from beyond the arc, and 71.4 percent from the free-throw line.

That all has amounted to a -0.7 box plus/minus rating, .063 win shares per 48 minutes, 53.5 true shooting percentage, 106 offensive rating/112 defensive rating, and an 11.6 player efficiency rating.

What’s most improved about Sato’s game this season compared to last (outside of the shooting percentage from downtown) are his defensive stats. Sato is one of the Bulls team leaders so far this season in defensive box plus/minus rating, currently sitting at 1.1. His defensive rating is also one of the four best on the team at this point in time.

He’s also sitting with career bests in both steal percentage (2.8) and block percentage (0.8).

Sato is also proving to be a very versatile guard, that’s even playing on the wing some so far this season. Of his 115 total minutes played so far this season, he’s actually spent most of that time playing at the two guard or on the wing.

The Bulls as a whole are also a +6.8 per 100 possessions when Sato is on the floor, compared to when he is not. His versatility and two-way ability is really valuable for the Bulls this season, and will continue to be moving forward.

Sato and the Bulls currently hold a record of 7-10, with their last game resulting in a tough 119-103 loss at home back on the night of Jan. 25 at the hands of the Boston Celtics. But their last game was supposed to happen on Jan. 27 against the Memphis Grizzlies, but that was pushed back due to novel coronavirus related issues. . Up next for the Bulls is a meeting with the Portland Trail Blazers at home at the United Center on Jan. 30.