INSIDER – Defensive Improvement Case Study #3 – Chicago Bulls 2010

The final 4 teams left in the Western Conference this year were the 4 best teams in the West in effective field goal % defense. ( Weighs three point shooting.) The top 5 defensive teams all made it to the round of 8 and the New York Knicks were the only team to make the Final 8 with a defense below the top 15 in the NBA. You must play defense to win in the NBA.

For the last three seasons, the Utah Jazz have finished ranked 23rd, 19th and 21st defensively in the NBA. If the Jazz are competing with the best in the NBA they must become a better defensive team.

Last year the Jazz allowed 104.7 pts per 100 possessions. To move into the top 15 the Jazz would need to allow 103.0 and to move into the top 10 they would need to allow 101 pts per 100 possessions.

Therefore, I reviewed the last 20 plus years of NBA stats and found the 16 teams to have made a substantial (about 5 pts per 100 possessions) defensive jump from one year to the next. Over the next few weeks I will look at those 16 teams to see what made their defensive jump possible.

Note: I have not included any lockout shortened seasons.


DEFENSIVE CHANGE: In 2009-10 the Chicago Bulls allowed 105.3 (11th) pts per 100 possessions and the next season in 2010-11 they allowed just 100.3 pts per 100 possessions

INSIDE THE FOUR FACTORS: in 09-10 they were 7th against in EFG% and became #1, they were 24th in forcing turnovers became 11th, they were 8th in defensive rebounding became 3rd and 9th in not fouling and stayed the same
PLAYER MOVEMENT: The 09-10 team started Derrick Rose, Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng, Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah. The next year the Bulls added Carlos Boozer and Kieth Bogans replaced Kirk Hinrich. Noah only played 48 games. A strong case could be made the team became a less good personal wise defensive team. Added Omer Asik for 12 minutes a game off the bench.

COACHING: Tom Thibodeau replaced Vinny Del Negro as the head coach. His staff included Ron Adams, Andy Greer, Rick Brunson, Adrian Griffin, Ed Pickney and Mike Wilhelm.

CONCLUSION: If case study 1 and 2 were about superstar players changing the culture then this is about the defensive coach in the NBA altering the culture of the Bulls. It is worth noting this was a good defensive team to start with and he took it to the next level.