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Just The Sports: Better Bulls

Just The Sports

Friday, March 02, 2007

Better Bulls

In my opinion, not enough people can criticize the Chicago Bulls's off-season signing of Ben Wallace, although the criticisms are coming after the fact of his uninspiring play when I called it a poor move from the very beginning; check out the archives if you do not believe me. Still, despite Wallace's failings, the Bulls have improved defensively this season over what they were doing sixty-one games into the 2005-06 season.

Last year through sixty-one games, the Bulls allowed their opponents to score 104.6 points per 100 possessions; this year, the Bulls are much stingier with how many points they give up to their opponents, only allowing 100.3 points per 100 possessions. They have managed this improvement mainly through increasing the number of turnovers forced per possession (.151 to .176) and decreasing the number of free throws their competitors make per contest (23.2 to 20.0).

The thing to remember is that just because the Bulls have improved defensively this season with Ben Wallace on the roster does not mean he is necessarily the cause of the upgraded Bulls defense. His arrival simply happens to coincide nicely with the phenomenon. One category where one would think Wallace's presence would prove to be a difference maker for the Bulls is offensive rebounding percentage allowed, but the 2006-07 Bulls are no better with keeping opponents on the offensive glass than the 2005-06 Bulls.

Using John Hollinger's PER, which measures production, demonstrates where the Bulls have actually gotten better and it is not at the center position. Because the net PER statistic I am about to use is for the entire 2005-06 season, the comparison is not exactly like the one mentioned above, but it still shows an interesting trend. Stacking up the 2005-06 Bulls's net PER by position to this season's reveals that the Bulls are getting a higher amount of net PER production from the point guard, small forward, and power forward. The shooting guard net PER production is the same as it was last year and the net PER from the center position, the one Ben Wallace plays exclusively, has actually decreased. So much for Wallace being an upgrade over Tyson Chandler.

When giving credit for the Bulls's improved play, look no further than Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng, and Andres Nocioni.



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