Chicago Bulls: Early returns not good for Jim Boylen

Chicago Bulls (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Chicago Bulls (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

It’s early, but the returns on the Chicago Bulls offense under Jim Boylen are not very good.

It appears John Paxson and the Chicago Bulls got exactly what they wanted — or at the very least — exactly what they should have expected with Jim Boylen. And that is a return to an antiquated offensive approach that was last effective during a time in which peach baskets were still a part of the game.

The Bulls’ front office has and is attempting to sell the Boylen hire for other reasons. First, they have emphasized a need to return to holding players more accountable and being more of a disciplinarian. Second, the hope was that Boylen’s promotion to the head coaching role would come with an increased emphasis on the defensive end.

While the Bulls may have gotten both, they come with both a caveat and a cost.

First, the caveat: Yes, Boylen has seemingly attempted to restore “law and order” to the team, but also came out of the gate too strong and nearly found himself in the midst of a mutiny. He immediately alienated many of the players and has been working to repair those fractured relationships ever since.

Second, the cost: While Boylen has definitely brought an increased focus and awareness to the defensive side of the ball, it has come with a cost, and that is to their offensive production. The Bulls currently rank last in total points per game, 28th in free throws attempted, 27th in field goal percentage, and 25th in three-point field goal percentage.

They’re also attempting the second-fewest three-pointers in the league. At least they didn’t sign a wing player to a massive contract and draft another one with the hopes of improving their outside shooting. Oh wait, they did? Whoops — disregard.

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While they haven’t had their core four (Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and Wendell Carter, Jr.) on the court together much this season, a deeper look into the numbers suggests it may not matter. That’s because the Bulls are also 27th in 2-point field goals attempted. So to recap, they’re not getting to the free throw line, they’re not shooting many three-pointers, nor are they shooting many two-pointers.

This suggests it is less about the personnel on the floor and more about the coach’s philosophy. It appears Boylen wants to play more of a grind it out type of basketball. This worked well in the 1990s for the New York Knicks, but the game of basketball may have evolved slightly since then. Unfortunately, for Bulls fans, their team hasn’t.