Inside the play: Bulls UCLA read

[Editor's note: Brett Koremenos is a new HoopSpeak contributor and will be adding his scouting of the X's and O's to HoopSpeak's 2011 Playoff coverage--Beckley]

Check out this highlight reel, and you’ll see that Derrick Rose’s individual efforts are preeminently featured. Yet, these brilliant highlights don’t tell the whole story of the Bulls offense, one that often uses motion to free up Derrick Rose to score.

He’s known for his defensive scheming, but Tom Thibodeau does an excellent job of calling sets that suit his personnel on the floor. Plays he runs for his starters changes quite a bit, when subs, like the sharp-shooting Kyle Korver, enter later in the game. One set in particular to watch for, is something that Bulls ran a half-dozen times or so throughout the game when their starting unit of Rose, Keith Bogans, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, and Joakim Noah were together. This set showed its true effectiveness when this group ran it the first two offensive possessions of the game.

It is easy to notice how well this set fits the starting unit. Keith Bogans, widely derided for ineffectiveness, is merely asked to facilitate the starting action then space the floor opposite, two things that stay well within his skill set. Korver’s shooting ability would be largely wasted in this action because Bogans’ key role on the offensive end in this play is largely to stay out of the way.  It also hands the cerebral Deng, who excels at off ball movement, the most decision-making responsibility as he will be involved in three screening actions during the play.

The play starts with Rose (1) making an entry pass to Bogans (2) on the wing, then making a UCLA cut off Deng’s (3) screen at the elbow.

Deng then quickly moves across the paint to screen for Boozer (4) who sprints to the nail and receives the pass from Bogans.

On Boozer’s catch, Deng then curls around a screen by Rose, who, after Deng crosses him, sprints off a screen from Noah (5) on the weak side.

On the first possession of the game, this set resulted in Rose receiving a “step-up screen” (a ball screen freeing the ball handler toward the baseline) from Noah and sinking a floater for the first two of his 39 points.

The second trip down the floor, Deng, who was being overplayed by his defender, refused the screen from Rose and came off the screen on the weak side for a jump shot of his own.

This set forces the defense to account for quite a bit:

  • Luol Deng curling off screens for open jumpers or playing in isolation on the weak side
  • Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah playing a two man game on the weak side
  • Rose in isolation with help defense forced into longer rotations (a scary thought for any coach)
  • Carlos Boozer uncorking one of his patented high-arcing, mid-range jumpers if his defender gets too pre-occupied with all the off ball action going on behind him

It will be interesting to see how the Bulls tweak this play going forward in this series and throughout the playoffs. Perhaps we will even see them introduce new wrinkles (like Boozer back screening Deng for a lob) to keep the opposing defense on their collective toes. Every time the defense takes something away, this set provides the Bulls the flexibility to counter. Just another thing that will make a Chicago a tough team to beat in these playoffs.

Related posts:

  1. Derrick Rose for MVP: Is it too late for a debate?
  2. Derrick Rose: Perfect Storm of Overrated?
  3. Beyond Assists: Why Derrick Rose Is A More Efficient Playmaker Than You Think
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