As the thousand mile journey called the NBA season is moving along, many teams seem to have established themselves in the standings, and slowly the cream of the crop is rising to the top. The usual suspects find themselves in the upper echelon of the league’s divisions and conferences, as true NBA contenders are starting to have a better understanding of where their team lie in the chase for the Larry O’Brien trophy.
A quarter of the regular season is completed, and at this stage teams usually look to upgrade their rosters anyway they can. Recently we saw the Dallas Mavericks make a bold move by adding an All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo, and they may have solidified their starting 5 as the best in the Association. The trade deadline may still be 2 months away, but there isn’t a single day that passes by that all 30 teams in the NBA are not looking to improve their title chances.
The Chicago Bulls are currently seating fourth in the Eastern Conference and look to head north in the standings . Even though the regular season ends in April, still a few months away, the Bulls may need to make one more move to improve their overall record and really bolster a squad that many experts already believe is one of the deepest in the NBA.
It can be argued that as constructed the Chicago Bulls may have most, or in fact all the weapons that a championship team needs to go all the way, but looking at the last few teams that raised banners, shooting the 3 point shot in an efficient matter is critical and greatly prioritized. Ideally you can never have too much 3 point shooting. Looking at the last 5 years only the 2009-2010 LA Lakers were not in the top 11 in 3 point shooting, and went on to win the NBA title. Here is a list of the last 5 NBA Champions, their 3pt % and their league rank:
2013-2014 San Antonio Spurs; 39.7- 1st
2012-2013 Miami Heat; 39.6- 2nd
2011-2012 Miami Heat; 35.9- 9th
2010-2011 Dallas Mavericks; 36.5- 11th
2009-2010 LA Lakers; 34.11- 23rd
Shooting the three has always been an important weapon for any team, as it not only gives you an extra point on a made field goal, but it stretches the floor for stars to go one-on-one against their defenders. As Derrick Rose works himself back to full health, and again being the aggressive scoring point guard we are all accustomed to seeing, he will need savvy 3-point shooters on the wings that can keep defenders honest. The Bulls currently seat 11th in the league in 3pt% at 36.4% which is a respectable figure, but they will need to sustain the efficiency or look to improve upon it. Their championship hopes may greatly depend on it.
The team recently announced that their sharpshooting rookie Doug McDermott would be having surgery to repair a meniscus tear in his knee which may sideline the Creighton alum up to 6 weeks. Even though he struggled to shoot the basketball this season and the loss may seem minor, Doug will miss the chance to improve on his struggles as he rehabs on the sidelines.
The sudden pause to Doug McDermott’s development is a definite setback to his short term potential as a 3 point threat this season for the Chicago Bulls. The Chicago Bulls will need to act fast in order to add another shooter to the roster, and who better than possibly the best trigger man in NBA history Ray Allen. Ray Allen is currently a free agent who is sitting back and carefully assessing the NBA landscape, and may be soon deciding which contender to join. Ray Allen was last seen playing for the Miami Heat in the 2013-2014 season, and was a major contributor to a team that made it to the NBA Finals. Even though Ray Allen’s Heat came up short against the San Antonio Spurs, he had a stellar regular season shooting 37.5% from deep. Last year Ray Allen played a little over 26 minutes a game, and was a vital contributor to a Miami team that shot 36.4% from deep as a whole. He proved to fight off father time as Ray, at age 38, seemed to be in phenomenal shape as he played in 73 games plus the playoffs.
Allen would prove to be a great addition to the Chicago Bulls. Since the 2014-2015 season started, Bulls fans have seen another champion in Pau Gasol be re-energized playing for their team, as it is clear that the players, fans, and the organization have great championship aspirations and enthusiasm that has the city buzzing. How can a free agent like Ray Allen, not look at the Chicago Bulls, and see the hunger and drive the team possesses to get ring number 7?
This tweet presents great optimism as the Bulls are on the short list of potential suitors for Ray Allen. Even though the Chicago Bulls have formidable competition for the services of Ray, the Mid-West team presents many positives for the sharp shooter to really ponder and contemplate. For instance the familiarity Ray Allen has with the Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau from his Boston days is a major plus as the 3-point specialist won’t need to transition into a system entirely new to him. Coach Thibodeau’s defensive schemes may be complex for newcomers to pick up, but Ray Allen is very familiar with the details of it as he has won a championship utilizing it. Ray Allen knows firsthand the impact of playing with the Chicago Bulls elite defense. On the offensive end Ray Allen will have the great fortune of playing with 2 of the best passing big men in the league in Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah which will help his game tremendously on pin downs, backdoors and pass outs from post play.
Ultimately what will make Ray Allen’s job easier playing with the Chicago Bulls is the great chemistry he can potentially build with the team’s point guard Derrick Rose. When healthy Derrick Rose has the ability to break down any defender and create a shot for himself or his teammates in a very quick manner. Can anyone imagine who better a player Mr. Rose can kick to than a 2 time champion and an all time marksman?
Now many will say DRose is still a work in progress, as he is rusty from all the time he had off rehabbing his 2 knee surgeries, but Pooh has shown glimpses of his former self and when he gets back to breaking down defenses in a consistent manner, his teammates will surely be the beneficiaries of quick passes. When looking back at Derrick Rose’s MVP year in 2011 another sharpshooter seem to flourish playing alongside the point guard, that is Kyle Korver. Kyle became a major target for Rose when the star point guard faced countless double teams. Rose would also find Korver in many situations of drive and kick as well. Kyle Korver shot 41.5% in 2011 in Chicago’s backcourt and 43.5% the following year. These type of efficient numbers cannot be overlooked and taken for granted.
Derrick Rose has shown that when paired with a sharpshooter in the backcourt, the offense becomes more efficient as the court widens due to defenses paying so much attention to 3 point specialists. Also if teams decide to close off the paint in fear of DRose’s penetration, outside shooters will find themselves with open shots. Similar to Kyle Korver, Ray Allen at times will find himself open for perimeter shots, or create more space for Derrick to operate. In the lockout season of 2012 when the Bulls shot 37.5% from deep as a whole, they ranked third best in the Association that year. They ended the season with the league’s best record, and title favourites going into the playoffs, but sadly Derrick Rose tore his ACL in game 1 of the playoffs, and the team’s title hopes went up in smoke. Coincidentally, that was Kyle Korver’s last year with the Chicago Bulls. It would be difficult to imagine Ray Allen not having the same success as Korver in arguably a better offensive system with today’s Chicago Bulls.
When the playoffs arrive the games seem to slow down and half court execution becomes very critical as defenses rise to another level. The Chicago Bulls have most of the tools to execute a winning game plan with a very elite defensive system, post scoring and quick guard play that can potentially break down any opponent. All that seems to lack is a consistent 3 point shooter that can keep defenses honest . The final piece may be found in the miraculous decision made by a Mr. Jesus Shuttlesworth.