By acquiring Michael Carter-Williams, the Chicago Bulls are only further demonstrating that they don’t care about three-point shooting
It seems like yesterday when the Chicago Bulls were seen as a viable threat to win their first championship since the days of Michael Jordan. They had the explosive Derrick Rose, one of the best head coaches in the game in Tom Thibodeau, and a stifling defense anchored by Joakim Noah.
But Rose and Noah both struggled to stay healthy, and Thibodeau’s harsh, grating coaching style eventually ran its course in the eyes of the front office. Now, all three of those guys are gone, and the Bulls are still desperately seeking to establish a new identity.
Many believe that Pat Riley threw them a big bone when he inexplicably disrespected Dwyane Wade by offering him a less than stellar contract extension to stay with the Miami Heat. Wade shockingly jumped ship and went back home to Chicago, signing a deal with the Bulls. Troubled point guard Rajon Rondo also climbed aboard the sinking Titanic, in an apparent effort to give the Bulls the worst perimeter shooting backcourt in the NBA.
There is no doubt that Wade is a good addition, but it remains to be seen if his 34-year-old knees will be able to hold up as his career enters its final stages. He has also shot just 28 percent from beyond his arc during his 13 seasons in the NBA.
And even though Rondo had a good season stroking the three-ball last year at 37 percent, it’s fair to wonder if he will keep it up considering his career struggles shooting from deep (a less than stellar 29 percent mark). Not to mention what a poor leader and bad attitude he has had recently:
And then, to top off a confusing offseason, the team has agreed to deal Tony Snell (a slightly above average three-point shooter) for Michael Carter-Williams (a very below average three-point shooter).
Basically, outside of the Wade signing, nothing they are doing makes sense right now. They now have a huge collection of egos in their backcourt in Rondo, Wade, Carter-Williams, and Jimmy Butler. Their lack of outside scoring could spell disaster, specifically because that’s where the NBA is trending right now. In an era of basketball focused on the importance of outside shooting, spacing, and going with smaller lineups, the Bulls are aggressively going against the grain.
Opponents will be instructed to pack the paint defensively against the Bulls, forcing their guards to prove they can consistently knock down outside shots. Without the Bulls’ guards being able to successfully penetrate inside, there won’t be as many kickout passes setting up competent three-point shooters like Doug McDermott, Denzel Valentine, and Nikola Mirotic for wide open looks. And that’s a problem.
By adding Carter-Williams, it shows the Bulls are comfortable not being feared from downtown. Carter-Williams does have a lot of good qualities, especially when it comes to rebounding the ball and utilizing his height to spot open teammates. But there are still may concerns about his shooting, and if he’ll ever develop a reliable shot. Here’s his shooting chart from two seasons ago. And he wasn’t much better last year either.
With the way the Bulls are constructing their team, it seems like they should fire Fred Hoiberg and hire Byron Scott to be their head coach. After all, Scott has been on record saying he doesn’t think three-pointers are all that important in today’s game, specifically how he believes teams that shoot three-pointers don’t win championships (which is just flat-out wrong).
I’m kidding of course, but then again, nothing would surprise me at this point.
This is not to suggest the Bulls still won’t make the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference. They probably will. But they aren’t title contenders. And they won’t be as long as they continue to abandon the three-point shot. Dealing Snell for Carter-Williams doesn’t make them better, and it only further complicates a problem that won’t improve any time soon.