Bulls Shooting Woes Becoming a Serious Issue

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Bulls Shooting Woes Becoming a Serious Issue

Wednesday, November 11th

by Mark Schanowski
CSNChicago.com

What can Vinny Del Negro and his staff do with the gang that can't shoot straight? We knew the Bulls would miss Ben Gordon, but this is ridiculous! They gave away winnable games against Denver and Toronto because of terrible shooting from the perimeter. How bad was it you ask? Well, the Bulls' 2 best outside shooters, John Salmons and Kirk Hinrich combined to go 10-for-44 from the field. And when Salmons and Hinrich aren't hitting, the Bulls' offense is in deep trouble.

Wednesday night in Toronto, the Bulls didn't score a single point from the 6:24 mark of the 4th quarter until Hinrich made 1 of 2 free throws with 10 seconds left. All this against a Raptors team that is among the worst in the league defensively. Toronto began the night giving up an average of 111 points a game, and they lived up to their reputation in the first half, allowing the Bulls to get numerous easy baskets inside on the way to 52 percent shooting from the field and a 60-53 lead. But the Bulls' shooting went into the deep freeze after intermission, they hit only 25 percent of their shots, and managed to score only 29 points for the entire half! Granted, the players were probably a little fatigued playing on back-to-back nights with a short rotation, and not arriving in Toronto until early this morning. But the larger issue is shot selection. The Bulls missed 11 straight shots down the stretch and almost all of them were perimeter jump shots. When the outside shot isn't falling, you have to take the ball to the basket, especially against a bad defensive team like Toronto.

Okay, so we know Ben Gordon isn't walking through that door (to paraphrase the infamous Rick Pitino rant from his days as head coach of the Celtics), but what are the Bulls going to do about their offensive deficiencies? The easiest solution would be better shooting from Salmons and Hinrich, but maybe they're not cut out to be big-time scorers. The Bulls also need Derrick Rose to be more offensive minded, and he's shown signs of that with 36 points in his last 2 games. Look for Derrick to be involved in a lot more high screen and roll situations to get him more chances to attack the basket once his ankle is 100 again. The reality is the Bulls just don't get enough easy baskets. It seems like every possession is a struggle to try to free an open shooter for a mid-range jump shot. Luol Deng is off to a nice start, but he's more of a spot-up shooter, and is turnover prone when he drives to the basket. And, the Bulls aren't going to look for Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson to post-up their defenders in the paint. That's not really the strength of either player.

So again, what is the coaching staff going to do? They might need to take a longer look at Jannero Pargo, who was brought in for his 3 point shooting, but has only played limited minutes so far because of a bad back. Once he's completely healthy again, the coaches might need to get him more court time. Same with rookie James Johnson, who showed some promise during the pre-season, but has been the forgotten man in regular season play. But those are just band-aid solutions. John Paxson and Gar Forman may have to think about exploring a trade for another scorer. We know they want to maintain salary cap flexibility for next summer's free agent class, but this Bulls' team has the potential to win 45 to 50 games......all they really need is one more scorer.

Would you roll the dice on a player with behavioral issues in the past like Allen Iverson or Stephen Jackson? We know those 2 guys are available. Or is there a young shooting guard out there who could be acquired at a reasonable price, and not destroy the Bulls salary cap flexibility? Ideally, the Bulls would like to acquire someone who is on the last year of an expiring contract, but those players are normally in high demand around the league.

Maybe the offensive issues will sort themselves out, and Salmons and Hinrich will shoot their way out of the early slumps. But it's never too early to start preparing for the possibility this team needs to go outside for scoring help. Especially with the dreaded Circus road trip looming next week.

What do you think? We invite you to share your suggestions in the comments section below or drop me an e-mail.

I'll see you Saturday from the United Center before the Bulls-76ers game during SportsNite at 6:30.

Mark Schanowski hosts our Bulls pre and post game studio coverage with 15-year NBA veteran Kendall Gill. You can also watch Mark on SportsNite, Sunday through Thursday at 6:30 and 10.

Go behind the scenes with Kendall Gill at The Big 3 in Chicago

Go behind the scenes with Kendall Gill at The Big 3 in Chicago

CSN Chicago's Bulls analyst Kendill Gill played in The Big 3 in Chicago's UIC Pavilion on Sunday and gave CSN some inside access.

Gill was mic'd up in warm-ups and talked to CSN's Mark Schanowski after the game. Gill's Team Power picked up another win to improve to 3-1.

Watch the video above to see the behind the scenes footage and the interview with Schanowski.

Kendall Gill, Ice Cube give their predictions for Mayweather-McGregor

Kendall Gill, Ice Cube give their predictions for Mayweather-McGregor

This story originally appeared on Big3.com. Hear from Kendall and Ice Cube as they give their opinions on the Aug. 26 fight in the video above.

Timing really is everything.

When I went to Las Vegas for the BIG3 combine and draft back in April, I liked my chances. Sure, I was one of the oldest guys there, but my training as a boxer (I fought professionally after my NBA days) keeps me in great shape.

So I was pretty shocked when I didn’t get drafted.

I tried to be positive about it. I figured maybe the man upstairs was saying, “Just sit tight. I gotta put you on the right team.”

So there I was, sparring in the gym the other day. I get out of the ring and there’s a text waiting for me from Corey Maggette, asking me if I want to play for Power.

He didn’t have to ask twice!

Next thing I know, I’m getting a call from Power’s coach, Hall of Famer Clyde Drexler. I looked up to Clyde my whole career, looked at him as a big brother. To play for him in the BIG3 is the perfect scenario.

So it was great to be in Philadelphia last Sunday and help Power defeat the Ghost Ballers in my BIG3 debut. I thoroughly enjoyed playing with Cuttino Mobley, DeShawn Stevenson, Jerome “Junkyard Dog” Williams and Paul McPherson.

I was a bit rusty on the offensive side, but my defense -- which has been a staple for me throughout my career -- my rebounding, passing, that was all on point. I found Cuttino and DeShawn for a couple of shots when we forced them to double-team down on me. I had Mike Bibby on me in the post, and they knew that he probably couldn’t guard me down there.

So it was a pretty good first day. Now that I’ve got that under my belt, here comes the fun part. Everybody was excited when I was finally added to a team, and when they found out we were playing in Chicago they got twice as excited. When I got off the plane from Philadelphia on Monday, I had about 50 messages waiting for me – friends and family asking for tickets to the UIC Pavilion for Sunday’s games.

And since I work Chicago Bulls games for CSN Chicago, the network is excited, too. They want to mic me up and follow me around for the day, go behind the scenes. Radio stations have been calling me for interviews about the BIG3 coming to Chicago. It’s exciting. But when it comes time to play, I’ve got to forget about all that and go out there and play.

A lot of people think I’m biased because I was born and raised here, and still live in Chicago, but if you look at the number of pro players that we’ve produced, there’s really nowhere else that can compare to Chicago as a basketball town. You look at all the number one picks in the draft. Look at the top five picks in the NBA Draft throughout history. I think you’d have to say Chicago is probably the number one producer of NBA players – and college basketball players for that matter.

Only a few fortunate kids make it up the ranks to college and the pros. For most kids growing up in Chicago, at least basketball can be an important recreational activity that helps keep them off the streets and out of trouble. But there’s so much more we can do. When I was preparing for the BIG3 draft, I was practicing with Arne Duncan, President Obama’s Secretary of Education. Duncan, who has played competitive 3-on-3 with USA Basketball, is doing some great work with underprivileged kids in Chicago.

For my part, I donated a home in Champaign-Urbana (home of my alma mater, the University of Illinois). It’s the Cunningham Children’s Home and it helps disadvantaged kids in the region. We just had our annual golf tournament last week. We’ve been doing it for 28 years and have raised more than $1 million for the home.

While Arne Duncan is doing great work with Chicago youth, I’m grateful for the work he put in with me on the basketball court. He showed me a lot about how to cut, do a lot of pick and rolls away from the ball. In 3-on-3, those aspects of the game are very undervalued. Some guys have a tendency to play too much one-on-one, which I saw in some of the other games I was watching Sunday. The 3-on-3 game is very easy if you do it right, like we did. I think that’s why we won that game. We did a lot of cuts, and it worked well for us.

So after the disappointment of not being drafted, I’m thrilled to be where I am now – playing for a Power squad that is 3-1 and looking good for the playoffs. Which got me to thinking…

I really love boxing – not just training and sparring myself, but watching it. Boxing is the sweet science.

If we are fortunate enough to make it to Las Vegas for the BIG3 championship game on August 26, there just happens to be a pretty big boxing match taking place that night, right down the road. You may have heard:  Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor.

Personally, I don’t think McGregor has a chance. I’ve seen Floyd train in person and I’ve seen all his fights at least 10 times. He’s one of the greatest fighters to ever live. Now a guy who has no boxing experience whatsoever is going to get into the ring with him? Not happening.

But it’s gonna be an event. Believe me, I’m planning to buy the Pay-Per-View.

Unless I’m in Vegas that day and get to see it in person. You know, right after we win the BIG3 title.