Chicago Bulls emphasize adaptability — and ‘randomness’ — in their offense after a sluggish start to the preseason – The Denver Post


The Chicago Bulls entered this season focused on playing fast and fluid. But their first preseason game Tuesday signaled a disconnect between this game plan and the team’s offensive reality without starting point guard Lonzo Ball.

One preseason loss can’t be cause for panic, but the Bulls showed significant stagnancy in offensive creation. This was severely aggravated by the Pelicans’ 70% shooting in the first half, which forced the Bulls to advance the ball in half-court offense.

“The pace of play across our court was way too slow,” coach Billy Donovan said. “The timing was not good. It was very, very slow. I think this group understands what it’s going to look like if we play like that this year.”

The sluggish start is the antithesis of Donovan’s plans for the Bulls offense. Even without Ball, Donovan wants the Bulls to push transition plays and utilize their speed.

Third-year forward Patrick Williams described the team’s emphasis on adaptability as a “new offense” entirely, designed to allow the Bulls to play without positions. This isn’t a foreign concept in the NBA, especially for smaller teams like the Bulls who rely on big men like Williams and Nikola Vučević to also shoot from well outside the paint.

“The offense is a lot more open and creative in that way,” Williams said.

Although Donovan clarified the structure isn’t fundamentally different from last year, the coach is focused on creating more “randomness” in this year’s offense.

“It’s not something we can dictate all the time,” he said. “It’s more about … how can we maintain a level of randomness playing and making reads? That’s the part that we’ve got to build out and get better at.”

Donovan hopes the increased experience of Williams and second-year guard Ayo Dosunmu — who could start at point guard again this season — will aid in improving this fluidity. During their debut seasons with the Bulls, both players required ample coaching from the sidelines, which became limiting.

Once both players are more comfortable going off script, Donovan feels the offense will become more adaptable. For Dosunmu, this includes improving his reaction to broken plays.

“As we continue to try to move into a more free flowing offense, there’s going to be tough times,” Dosunmu said. “We have to come together as a team, move the ball with each other and continue to stick with the play.”

Predictability is a key concern for the Bulls this season. Last year’s offense began with a bang, fueled by the precision of Ball at point guard.

The Bulls roster includes two of the most dynamic players in East: Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan. Both provide their own creativity, but that became stifled in the final months last season as teams began to key in on both stars.

This year, the Bulls must create better backup plans to avoid relying too heavily on LaVine and DeRozan.

“We’re just putting more wrinkles in the offense so we don’t become so predictable,” DeRozan said. “We can’t rely on hero basketball so much. Last year, so much of what we were doing was working so well that by the time teams started to really lock in and adjust we didn’t have a second option to go to.”



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