When the Chicago Bulls failed to crack the 90 point barrier in five of their first eight games after the All Star Break, I figured I overestimated the impact that center Joakim Noah’s return would have on the offense. Noah is primarily known as an elite defender, but before a broken wrist sidelined him for two months, the Bulls were a notably more effective offensive team with him in the lineup too. Noah is an adept passer, and his ability to hit a mid range shot (albeit with form that must give coaches fits), helps space the floor for drives into the paint by point guard Derrick Rose and forward Luol Deng.
Then while watching the team in several recent games, I couldn’t help but notice the methoidical pace of the team’s offense. It isn’t lots of standing around, but every Bulls possession seems to involve three or four screens aiming to generate confusion on the opponent and it often leads to extra passes even in the interior and high percentage shots.
So I decided to investigate the Bulls Offensive Efficiency since Noah’s return and the results were astonishing. By my quick and dirty calculations, the Bulls are playing at one of the slowest paces in the league, just over 90 possessions per game. That slow pace masks that they have become one of the best offenses in the league, scoring just over 109 points per 100 possessions. Their defense has remained air tight since the Break, allowing only 97 points per 100 possessions, which is why the Bulls now lead the league in point differential at 7.4 per game.
Simply put, this team’s championship credentials keep getting better and better.