Floor spacing will be key for Chicago Bulls to succeed


The Chicago Bulls have high expectations for the 2015-16 season. With new head coach Fred Hoiberg installing his up tempo offense, the Bulls are hoping that this is the year they can win the NBA title. Hoiberg’s offense has a strong focus on ball movement and floor spacing, both of which are areas the Bulls struggled with last year.

Ball movement, floor spacing, freedom.

These are the three words that have come up the most when Bulls players have talked about Hoiberg’s offense. And based on what we have seen in the preseason thus far, the players are adjusting to the new offense quite well.

The Bulls are letting it fly when it comes to perimeter shots, and the ball movement and floor spacing looks much better compared to past seasons. Floor spacing will be critical to the Bulls success in 2015, as without it, the Bulls will fall into the same traps that doomed them last year on offense.

Without proper floor spacing on the court, it becomes difficult to move the ball side to side and penetrate towards the rim. The Bulls have two of the best attackers the league has to offer in Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler. With good floor spacing, when those two drive to the basket, the Bulls shooters should be able to spot up and knock down open jump shots all season long.

Pick and pop plays involving Rose and Nikola Mirotic will be seen a lot this year, as it puts pressure on the defense to make a decision on whom to cover. The defense has to account for Rose’s speed to get to the basket but also for Mirotic’s shooting ability.

Doug McDermott and Tony Snell will need to knock down shots all season long as well to stretch the floor and open up driving lanes.

The more shooters and floor spacing the Bulls have on the floor, the more space there will be for Rose and Butler to attack the hoop. Last season the Bulls floor spacing was awful and opposing teams crashed the paint, daring the Bulls to beat them from the perimeter.

Opposing teams would trap Rose by double teaming him and force the Bulls shooters to beat them, and it didn’t work too well for the Bulls. The Bulls didn’t get many open looks last season and were always shooting contested jump shots. With better floor spacing under Hoiberg, the Bulls should have better success on the perimeter.

Ball movement and fluidity on offense will be key for the Bulls to have a good season.

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Under former head coach Tom Thibodeau, Snell and McDermott were scared to shoot the ball because they were always looking over their shoulder. Thibodeau didn’t instill any confidence in Snell or McDermott and used the two sharp shooters incorrectly on offense.

Both Snell and McDermott have been shooting the ball well in preseason and both are not showing any hesitation in their shots. That is a good sign for the Bulls as both of them will need to play well since Mike Dunleavy is out with a back injury.

The focal point of the offense should still be centered around Rose, Butler and Pau Gasol. The highest percentage shots in the NBA are in the paint, and all three of those players are capable of getting near the rim and finishing in traffic. As long as there are shooters on the floor, Rose, Butler, and Gasol should have enough space to operate.

Because Gasol is a great post player, he will attract double teams in the post which will free up shooters on the perimeter. The Bulls have been launching threes at a high rate in the preseason because the shooters are getting good, wide open looks.

Hoiberg needs to preach floor spacing all year to the Bulls players, because without it, the Bulls offense will be the same as it was under Thibodeau. Having Joakim Noah and Gasol on the floor together doesn’t seem effective and limits the floor spacing. Smaller lineups and playing more “four out and one in” is what Hoiberg seems to like, and it works in the Bulls favor.

The Bulls are hoping that the up tempo pace and freedom of Hoiberg’s offense will translate to a championship. Floor spacing is key to any offense being successful in the NBA and the Bulls have the right personnel to be an efficient offensive team.

The Bulls have lacked floor spacing for the past few seasons and will have to establish it this season to become an elite offensive team. Sustaining it throughout the season will allow the Bulls to get easy, open shots.