The Chicago Bulls opened their 2020-21 NBA season with 18 games and there are certainly plenty of moments to win. From receiving the ball to defending, it’s fair to say that the Bulls have been a very mixed team on both fronts this season. Let’s talk about the offense, the defense, Billy Donovan and what the whole team looked like at the beginning of this season.

Attack

Offensively, Donovan’s group impressed the most. The Bulls went from near-death status last season to a mid-table position in terms of offensive effectiveness this year. Before Saturday night, the Lakers played a game in Chicago in which the Bulls pulled down a pitiful 39.3% from the field and fought off a rested Los Angeles team.

Chicago single-handedly pulled off the trio with an excellent 38.0%, moving into seventh place in the league. We’ve seen impressive ball movement and more fluidity in the offense, something the Bulls have lacked in recent years. The Bulls don’t necessarily have a leader, so we are basically looking for a committee to help them. And it works, as the Bulls average over 25 assists per game.

Photo : Stephen Ryan/Getty Images

The areas that need significant improvement are the reduction in turnover. Because of the Bulls’ quick approach and quick movements (to avoid getting the ball stuck), they tolerate mistakes at different stages of the game. This leads to multiple personnel moves per minute, which ultimately makes the difference because the Eastern Conference is not currently at the top of its game.

Protection

Defensively, the goalies should score a lot of points against the Bulls. They seem covered on the wings and at the big defensive position, with long guys on the roster from Patrick Williams, Otto Porter Jr, Thaddeus Young, Wendell Carter Jr, etc, but the guards certainly struggle to get blown away much more often. This season, the Bulls are playing a down cover defense, a very different system than Jim Boylen’s traplastic pick-and-roll system.

The bulls should take more advantage of this fall cover. Wendell Carter Jr. and Daniel Gafford average career blocks per game. This is quite surprising given the position they usually protect the rim in. I expect those numbers to improve as the season progresses.

Photo : Chicago Tribune

Governmental evaluation

As for the lineup, several players have made impressive starts. A big name is Zach LaVine, who was not expected to step up to the plate. LaVine has addressed some of the biggest weaknesses in his game during the extended offseason, and we’ve seen him improve as a playmaker and defender. This season, LaVine set career records in all major categories: points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, field goal percentage, three-point shots and free throw percentage.

Photo : ChicagoBulls/Twitter

Zach proves he can follow the best and be the best offensive option while winning games. He has more confidence in his teammates than we have seen in the past. He’s also not afraid to try to play the right game, averaging 5.4 assists per game in his career.

Other notable players include rookie Patrick Williams, who faced some extremely difficult assignments early in his NBA career. In recent weeks, Williams has called on elite talents like LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kawhi Leonard, all of whom have encouraging things to say about the Pats. In case you missed it, here’s what LeBron said.

I think he’s going to be extremely talented. He has long arms. He has hands like Kawhi’s, I saw him on the floor, so I knew I couldn’t play much. You could say he’s a laser guy trying to get better and better. …He stuck to the game plan and I think he’s getting better and better. He has a great midfield, but if you notice his hands, like I said, he has Kawhi style hands that will be very useful throughout his career. I think there’s a good one in Chicago.

– LeBron James on Bulls rookie Patrick Williams.

Photo : Ashley Landis/AP

The other thing the Bulls are unhappy about is the bench. The primary reserves – Thaddeus Young, Garrett Temple and Otto Porter Jr. – have earned nearly all of the Bulls’ victories so far this season. The bench is shooting 48.2% from the field, ranking third in the league. They were efficient, defended well and were a good mix to go with a young core because of their great versatility. Congrats to guys like Denzel Valentine and Daniel Gafford who were also productive when they got minutes.

Billy Donovan

Head Coach Billy Donovan, who brought everything together in his first year at the helm, has proven that Arturas Karnisovas is a great addition. Donovan is a coach who is respected and admired by his players, and the atmosphere in the locker room seems to bear that out.

Photo : Chicago Bulls

He was exactly what this young team needed: an experienced winner who had coached several superstars. Someone who knows how to run a locker room. Someone who knows how to get the best out of his men and put them in a position to excel. And that’s exactly what happened during the Bulls’ opening period, which has been very competitive in recent weeks.

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