How Bulls Could Survive Next few Games

Getty Billy Donovan - Zach LaVine

The Chicago Bulls will be without Zach LaVine for the next few games, just as they will be without four of the team’s best defenders in Alex Caruso, Javonte Green, Derrick Jones Jr and of course Patrick Williams, who’s missed all but five games this season.

So what exactly can the Bulls do to squeeze out wins during those games, facing those heavy odds?

Speed it up

Billy Donovan could unleash the team’s younger players and ask them to play a sped up brand of ball, somewhat mirroring the old “Seven Seconds or Shaq” system the Phoenix Suns used to apply during their Shaquille O’Neal era, only with DeMar DeRozan being the half-court option.

Essentially, the idea is for the younger players to get out in transition to exploit defensive gaps, and try for quick and easy scores. If defenses shut them down, plenty of time should be left on the shot clock for the team to run a play, which is where DeRozan, and to some extent Nikola Vucevic, comes in as a take-over option.

Betting on defense will be a bad bet for the Bulls at this point, as they’ve slipped to 18th in the league, per Basketball-Reference, due to the extended time missed by Caruso in particular. While Donovan could hand more minutes to rookie Ayo Dosunmu to make up some ground in that area, there’s a limit to what a 6-foot-5 rookie can do.

Going in on offense then might be the best course of action. And yes, making that argument immediately after losing LaVine isn’t good timing. But it’s the card the Bulls have left to play.

Higher Three-point Gamble

Another element the Bulls could lean on is the three-point shot, which does go a bit hand-in-hand with the above strategy of speeding up the game.

In short, the Bulls could try to beat teams off basic math and hope to get hot from range, taking quick shots from the perimeter when left even slightly open, and hope to hit enough to gain an advantage in the scoring column.

Fully leaning into the above means abandoning their current league-worst rate of 30.5 nightly attempts, and aim for 45-50 attempts throughout the course of a game.

This plan, in particular, would benefit and target Coby White as one of the players to get the green light from the outside. White has hit 37.5% from three-point territory this season on 5.1 attempts per game, playing just 25 minutes a night. He has the both the volume and percentage to further increase his output, and he’s a rhythm player who has a knack for building confidence off every make. Getting White going early could be extremely important.

Stay the Course

Of course, Donovan could decide to stick with what has been working so far, as to not experiment too much while a major part of the core is sidelined. That way, when guys return healthy to the lineup, they come back to a system that’s been further drilled in by their teammates.

That means a priority on quality shot-selection, unselfish passing and turning defense into offense, all perfectly suitable stables for an efficient offense as evident by Chicago’s results this year.

The potential downside to sticking with the same system is the lack of personnel required to make that offense hum. The Bulls are already coming in as underdogs against the Boston Celtics, per FanDuel Sportsbook, exclusively due to players being out. As such, it’s fair to question if the Bulls need to alter their approach to stay above water.

Whatever Donovan decides to do over the next few games, it’s likely going to have a semblance of consistency to what has already worked, with some adjustments to take into account for not having certain players available.

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