So far the Bulls have a .500 record and (after adjusting for schedule strength) are playing at an average NBA level. It looks like this level of performance puts them on the bubble for making the playoffs, so it is imperative for the Bulls to up their level of play. So what can they do?
Most fans think Noah is having a great year. He leads the league in rebounding. Deng is shooting 36% on jump shots, so most fans probably think he is playing poorly. We will soon see Deng is having a great year and Noah hurts the team’s performance.
NOTE ALL NUMBERS BELOW ARE per 48 minutes and are ADJUSTED FOR STRENGTH OF OPPONENTS.
When Deng is in the game, the Bulls play 4 points better than average. When Deng is out the Bulls play 14 points worse than average. After adjusting for who he plays with and against we find that so far Deng has been the NBA’s 2nd best player (Dirk Nowitzki is far and away #1).
Now let’s look at Noah. Since Deng is the key we note note that with Deng and Noah in the Bulls play at an average level. But when Deng is in and Noah is out the Bulls play 14 points better than average. When Noah is in and Deng out the Bulls play 30 points worse than average. So it is not surprising that Noah has a poor Adjusted +/- rating. Here are some other key facts about Bulls lineup combos:
1. Hinrich Noah and Deng in plays 18 points worse than average. Rest of time Deng is in Bulls play 11 points better than average.
2. Deng Miller Salmons and Noah is great: 61 mi, 20 points better than average. Rest of time Noah plays Bulls play 9 points worse than average
3. Deng Hinrich Noah and Rose without Salmon is a disaster: In 37 minutes the Bulls play 49 points worse than average.
4. The Bulls two best lineups are Deng Hinrich Miller Noah Salmons and Deng Rose Miller Noah Salmons . Both lineups play 20 points better than average yet together these lineups only have played 61 minutes. The Bulls three most used lineups have played 216 minutes and average 3 points better than average. Why not play the better lineups more?