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Derrick Rose Is Great, But Here's A Complete Look At The Chicago Bulls Roster

A detailed look at Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer, Richard Hamilton and the rest of the 2011-12 Chicago Bulls team. Get a deeper understanding of strengths and weaknesses for each player.

As the 2011-12 NBA season rapidly approaches and the Chicago Bulls prepare for their Christmas day game against the Los Angeles Lakers, I want to provide fans with a different type of Chicago Bulls team preview. The hope is that it might give you tools to go far beyond the "Derrick Rose is really good, Carlos Boozer needs to stop being bad and Richard Hamilton still has something left in the tank" narrative that is easy to fall back on in the early going. The idea is to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the roster through a visual representation of salient statistics, and to create a snapshot of how players performed relative to positional league averages in 2010-11.

The analysis flows from grappling with the complete picture of the team, and culminates with some observations on the expected and unexpected facts that emerged from the process. Due to the absence of a proper sample size, I decided to leave a couple players off the list. Sorry Brian Scalabrine and Jimmy Butler fans, there just wasn't enough to go on.

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Here's what I did: I researched and indexed player stats relative to the relevant positional league average, meaning that a score of 100 is average for each player at his respective position. Anything less than 100 is lower than the average (in red), and anything greater than 100 is higher than the average (in green). The only exception is turnover rate (TOR), where a the inverse is true because less turnovers are a good thing. Usage and %Ast do not have assigned colors since they are both more value-neutral concepts, or perhaps more accurately, they require a case-by-case assessment.

An example: Richard Hamilton shot 47.1% from the 3-9 foot range in 2010-11, and the average for all SGs in 2010-11 from 3-9 feet was only 39.5%... (47.1 / 39.5)*100 = an index score of 119. This means Hamilton's 3-9 shooting numbers were 19% better than the average SG in 2010-11. Easy enough, right? Let's take a look at the 2011-12 Chicago Bulls roster...

Here are definitions for the stats referenced above:

Advanced Stats Glossary
True Shooting Percentage (TS%)- A player's shooting percentage weighted to account for free throws and 3-pointers. An accurate expression of shooting efficiency. Usage Rate (USG) - the number of possessions a player uses during his time on the floor.
Percentage of FGs Assisted (% AST) - The percentage of a player's total made field goals that are assisted by a teammate. Free Throw Attempts per Field Goal Attempts (FTA/FGA): Measures how well a player draws shooting fouls and gets to the free throw line relative to the shots they take.
Total Rebound Rate (TRR): The percentage of total available rebounds a player grabbed while he was on the floor. Assist Rate (AR): the percentage of a player's possessions that ends in an assist.
Offensive Rebound Rate (ORR): The percentage of total available offensive rebounds a player grabbed while he was on the floor. Turnover Rate (TOR) - the percentage of a player's possessions that end in a turnover.
Defensive Rebound Rate (DRR): The percentage of total available defensive rebounds a player grabbed while he was on the floor.

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Reactions and Observations: Derrick Rose is really good. Okay Okay, I promised it wouldn't devolve into a Rose lovefest at the expense of good analysis, but Rose truly is impressive. You might look at his TS% and numbers from different shooting ranges without initially being blown away by how above-average he has performed, but when you factor weight placed on him to produce offense -- meaning his absurdly high usage rate and his extremely low percentage of made shots assisted -- his ability to avoid turnovers and produce efficient scoring is something that makes him a special player. Some players can post these types of numbers as a role players with less defensive attention focused on them, but very few can stay so effective with so much expected of them. Rose can indeed do it well in high volume and under intense pressure, so make no mistake that he is an elite player.

It's not a huge secret in Chicago, but C.J. Watson isn't exactly the ideal backup point guard. Aside from being a pretty poor shooter from everywhere inside the arc, Watson isn't exactly a master facilitator either. The one good thing to say about Watson, perhaps aside from his occasional hot shooting, is that he does a good job at protecting the ball. It's a minor gripe, but the team could certainly stand to upgrade the backup point guard position heading into the trade deadline.

Shiny new toy Richard Hamilton and his shiny new facemask will slide into the starting shooting guard position, and by all indications he will be a nice fit to help take the load off Rose. However, the numbers show that Hamilton will still be heavily reliant on Rose to create his open opportunities, as most of his made baskets came off an assist and were not self-created. In fact, that is still a glaring problem on the roster in general: nobody else can really create their own shot, so it's all up to Derrick to either score or create good opportunities for others. In a compressed season, will the load be too much for Rose to bear? Adding a player with some semblance of isolation ability would be ideal to protect D Rose from wearing down.

Anyways, back to Hamilton. One thing that stuck out me was the fact that Hamilton's mid-range game -- shooting from 10-15ft -- actually graded out as well below average in comparison to the shooting guard average in 2010-11. It's not a systemic problem that signals any serious deterioration of shooting ability, as he posted above-average marks for every other range, but just a factoid that cuts against the common point thrown out to describe the strengths of Rip's game. An added bonus that comes with Hamilton is that he brings experience and feel for the game, which manifests in his above-average assist numbers. Rip will keep the ball moving and find opportunities for others when the defense over-commits to a hedge or makes an improper switch. If anything, this snapshot gives credence to the fact that he has some meaningful basketball left in the tank.

Bulls fans honestly don't need reminders about some of the information that emerges from this project. Everyone who watches the team knows Ronnie Brewer has no shooting range and is limited to a slasher and garbage man of a shooting guard. Likewise, everyone knows that Kyle Korver is exclusively a catch-and-shoot player that belongs camped beyond the arc to space the defense and create driving lanes for Rose. Even when it comes to Luol Deng, fans know he has been more comfortable and effective sliding back to a third option on offense with the ability to spot up or slash to the basket on slow defensive rotations.

Carlos Boozer can still be effective as a second option on offense, but needs to be sure he isn't extending his range out to 16-23ft on pick-and-pop action, where he is a below-average performer among a group of players that doesn't shoot the lights out from long distance anyways. If he can keep himself set in the 10-15 ft range it optimizes the value of his shooting range and also provides additional opportunities to use his rebounding skills more on the offensive end to create additional possessions for the team. As for Taj Gibson, fans shouldn't get too excited about what he did last season. Not only was he a below-average shooter at every distance when compared to his PF peers in 2010-11, he also emerged as a bit of a chucker and posted the lowest assist rate of any player on the team. The 'get the ball and shoot the ball' approach would be more palatable if he did anything particularly well on offense, but it appears there is good reason he was seen as a backup type player coming out of USC.

The things that stood out to me while looking at Omer Asik were that he clearly understands his limited shooting range and makes sure to play within himself by focusing his offense on shots close to the basket. A true garbage man and hustle player off the bench, Asik draws fouls at an amazing rate and flat out goes after the ball on the offensive boards. In fact, any lineup featuring some combination of Joakim Noak, Taj Gibson and Omer Asik should absolutely crush the opposing team when it comes to grabbing offensive rebounds. Get the ball up on the rim and those guys will go and get it.

Finally, Joakim Noah probably needs to stop trying his undeniably ugly flip shot from the 16-23ft range. Anyone who tries to tell you Noah did well developing and stretching his range last season is just wrong. Anything outside of 10-15ft is a disaster for Noah, who is well below average from anywhere farther out -- and remember, this is only relative to other centers (yikes). Redemption for Noah manifests not only his finishing at the rim and his impressive rebounding numbers, but also in his spectacular assist rate. He's no Steve Nash to be sure, but there should be no concerns about allowing Noah to operate as a passer out post looks when initiating offense in a way alternative to the default 'do something awesome to make us all look good, D Rose' option.

Closing Thoughts: Keep in mind that all of the indexed statistics reference above can only explain contributions on offense and with respect to rebounding. The true strength of the Bulls lies in a tenacious and disciplined defense that simply cannot be captured on an individual level by any reliable statistical measure. The difficulty in measuring the value of individual defense does nothing to change the fact that defense is still half the battle. When the goal of the game is to outscore the opponent, point prevention is of equal importance to point production. This project is merely here to give you a detailed, qualitative look at the offensive and rebounding contributions of the players on the roster. Feel free to draw your own conclusions from the data above or to disagree with my own observations, but hopefully it will help you jump into the season better informed about the finer points of your Chicago Bulls.

Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, and be sure to enjoy the NBA season in all its glory.

Steve von Horn is a writer and editor at SB Nation's Milwaukee Bucks blog, Brew Hoop, and is also a writer for SB Nation Chicago. If you have questions, comments or new writing opportunities, he can be reached at steven.vonhorn@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter: @StevevonHorn.