Billy Donovan Blasted for Recent DeMar DeRozan Comments

Billy Donovan

Getty Head coach Billy Donovan of the Chicago Bulls explained why he won't ask DeMar DeRozan to take more 3-point shots.

Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan is being criticized for his refusal to ask DeMar DeRozan to take more shots from downtown.

So far this season, DeRozan is hitting 31.4% of his 3-point shots, attempting 70 shots from beyond the arc and making 22 of them (stats via Basketball Reference). When DeMar is taking and making more threes, the team tends to score more points and win more games. A good example is Chicago’s recent 128-109 win over the Orlando Magic. DeRozan went 5-5 from downtown, and the team made 16 of their 35 shot attempts from 3-point range (45.7%).

The game of basketball has evolved into a much more fluid sport than it once was, and nearly every NBA lineup now features big men can pull up and drain three-pointers. The best 3-point shooting teams also tend to be among the league’s better teams. Longtime Chicago sports analyst Laurence Holmes of 670 The Score asked Donovan why he isn’t having DeRozan attempt more threes, and the Bulls coach gave an answer Holmes and company shot numerous holes through.

Billy Donovan Explains DeMar’s Shot Selection

After the Bulls’ 108-103 loss to the L.A. Clippers on January 31, Holmes asked Donovan about the possibility of DeRozan taking just two additional 3-point shots per game.

Here’s Donovan’s response, which Holmes shared on The Bernstein & Holmes show the next day:

I’m much, much more concerned as a coach about a guy’s efficiency than I am about what kind of shots I want them to take because it looks good analytically. I’ll take two points over taking more threes. I think DeMar is a good 3-point shooter, but I never want to change a guy’s game, to sit there and say: ‘DeMar, we need you to try to take 5-8 threes a game, because now, all of the sudden, you’re taking him out of maybe the best area of his game, which is in the mid-range, where he gets fouled a lot and where he’s really efficient. I want him to take those threes when they’re there — certainly we encourage him to do it — but I think he’s been the kind of player that he’s been throughout his career for a specific reason. He really, really works on that, and I think at this point in time for a lot of players, when you start trying to change their game — they got here for a reason. … I think DeMar is always looking for ways to get better. I have no problem with him taking threes, but at the same point, I’m not going to go say: ‘DeMar, we need you to take more of these,’ because what happens is instead of playing the game, you start thinking about shots that I want them to take and I just don’t think that that’s a good recipe.

Holmes then pointed out that after Donovan was speaking, Clippers head coach Ty Lue came in for questions, and Lue was asked about whether he likes it when Kawhi Leonard takes 10 shots from three per game. “If he’s getting 3-point attempts, that means the ball is usually moving, so somebody’s attacking the basket and making the right play,” Lue replied, adding: “When he’s getting 10 threes a game, that means we’re doing a good job of moving the ball offensively.”

“Bingo,” Holmes’ co-host Dan Bernstein replied. “That’s NBA offense.”

3-Point Shots Key to Success in Modern NBA

“NBA modern offensive efficiency is driven by 3-point efficiency,” analyst Leila Rahimi added, before noting that several of the NBA’s top teams are also some of the league’s best 3-point shooting squads: “Denver is your No. 1 at 39.7%. Then it’s Brooklyn, Phoenix, Philly — do any of these teams sound like good teams to you?”

Holmes also noted that DeRozan can already win off the dribble, and adding another element to his game with the threat of long-range shooting would also help open things up for his teammates.

The Clippers only made 27% of their shots from downtown, but they had 44 attempts in their January 31 win. The Bulls had just 24 attempts from downtown in the loss. They made 12. Had they attempted more threes, it could have made a huge difference.

“I don’t want to hear about efficiency when you’re the outlier,” Rahimi said in response to Donovan’s claims.

“Billy often looks like someone who is a passenger on this train instead of the person who is conducting the train,” Holmes added.

Bernstein blasted Donovan’s leadership. “If you can’t tell players what shots you want them to take, what are they paying you to do?” he wondered.

Donovan originally signed a four-year contract in September of 2020 and the Bulls extended him before the 2022 regular season began. If Chicago continues its mediocre and frustrating play, it’ll be interesting to see if executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas changes things up.

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