Bulls’ Offensive Consistency: How Does It Change

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Apr 8, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Chicago Bulls center Nikola Vucevic (9) dribbles the ball against Toronto Raptors forward Stanley Johnson (5) during the third quarter at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The Bulls’ offensive consistency instantly improved when they added Nikola Vucevic from the Magic. How did the two-time All-Star improve their offense? The answer is adding another reliable scorer.

Nikola Vucevic’s Offensive Consistency Before Trade

Mar 24, 2021; Orlando, Florida, USA; Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic  (9) hands off the ball to forward Al-Farouq Aminu (2) during the second quarter of a game between the Phoenix Suns and the Orlando Magic at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports
Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports

Before Vucevic landed with the Bulls, he averaged 24.5 points per game and 11.8 rebounds per game on the Magic. He was undoubtedly the Magic’s best scorer leading the team in points and rebounds per game. Along with this, he had a 48 field goal percentage and a 40.5 three-point percentage.

His three-point percentage is 3rd among all centers in the league. Nikola Jokic and Jeff Green take the one and two spots, respectively. However, both centers have taken nearly half as many three-pointers per game as Vucevic. Therefore, it is safe to say that the previous Magic center is one of the best three-point shooting big men in the league.

Furthermore, Nikola Vucevic can get it done anywhere on the court. He can shoot threes, mid-range shots, shots in the paint, and occasionally drive in the paint to score.

Along with his scoring, Vucevic is not shy from passing to his teammates and creating open shots. He averaged 3.8 assists per game on the Magic and ranked third among all centers in the league.

The former Magic center is talented on the offensive side of the ball. He can score, pass, and rebound the ball consistently night in and night out, contributing to his offensive consistency.

Bulls’ Offensive Consistency Without Vucevic

Dec 29, 2020; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) controls the ball against Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine (8) and forward Lauri Markkanen (24) during the first half at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

The Bulls’ Offensive without Vucevic was mediocre at best. Yes, they have Zach Lavine, who is having his best season, averaging 27.5 points per game this season, but their supporting cast of Lauri Markkanen and Coby White is very inconsistent.

Lauri Markkanen is averaging 16 points per game this season. On paper, his stats are not bad, but his points and effectiveness fluctuate with every game. For example, on February 1st and 3rd, the Bulls played the Knicks back to back. In the first game, Lauri Markkanen led his team to victory with 30 points and a 61.1 field goal percentage.

However, the second time around, Markkanen had 9 points with a 37.5 field goal percentage in a crushing defeat. There is no denying that Lauri Markkanen is a promising player in this league. However, he is not ready to step up as Lavine’s number 2 due to his inconsistency.

Coby White is no different. He is averaging 14.7 points per game and 4.5 assists per game, but his inconsistency on offense hurts the team. On February 10th, White dropped 30 points with a 50 percent field goal percentage in a victory against the Pelicans. However, two days earlier, he had 8 points on 30 percent shooting in a loss against the Wizards.

Therefore, Lavine and the Bulls’ offense was highly dependent on White and Markkanen. It was almost certain that Lavine would have a good game night in and night out. But getting a victory was highly reliant on White and Markkanen stepping up. If they did not have a good game, then most likely the Bulls would lose.

Bulls’ Offensive Consistency With Vucevic

Apr 9, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Chicago Bulls center Nikola Vucevic (9) shoots past Atlanta Hawks forward Onyeka Okongwu (17) in the third quarter at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Nikola Vucevic adds another All-Star caliber player to the Bulls’ offense. So far, he is averaging 22.9 points per game and 3.6 assists per game with the Bulls. But more importantly, he brings consistency to the offense.

Vucevic has played eight games with the Chicago Bulls so far and has scored over 20 points in seven games. He has stepped up as Lavine’s number two guy and sometimes looks like a number one on the team.

Before Vucevic, the Bulls had 6.3 post-ups per game, putting them at 21st in the league. With Vucevic, this number has jumped to 18.2, putting them at first in the NBA during Vucevic’s first six games in Chicago.

Most importantly, he can replicate everything he did on the Magic on the Bulls. He can still knock down his threes, mid-range shots, and dominate in the paint.

Lavine and Vucevic’s Two-Man Game

Apr 6, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Chicago Bulls center Nikola Vucevic (9) dribbles the ball while Indiana Pacers center Goga Bitadze (88) defends in the third quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Along with Vucevic’s performances, his and Lavine’s two-man game has been very effective. Both players can score effectively and create open shots for their teammates. Furthermore, their play-around screens and pick-and-rolls make both of them much more difficult to lockdown.

Also, Lavine seems to love playing with another play of his caliber. He enjoys having a player who can play around screens and catch open passes at the three-point line or in the paint.

“He can catch pretty much everything… It just seems like he has a mitt.”

Zach Lavine

Although the team is 3-5 since Vucevic’s arrival, Lavine and Vucevic are still holding their own as All-Stars. However, it will take time for both of them to build chemistry with one another and make a statement for being a top duo in the league.

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