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Hope everyone had a good Christmas! I just have some sporadic thoughts from this past weekend.  

Free-Throw Shooting
It's been repeated on HTTH that free-throw shooting is shitty for the Bulls.  Unbelievably shitty.  It has cost us a few games already, and almost cost us the game vs. Detroit.  The Bulls sit at 70.2% from the line on the season, and if the season were to end today, it would be the worst percentage in Bulls history.

There's no reason that the shooting should be this bad.  A quick glance at the numbers shows that James Johnson and Omer Asik are by far the worst, but it shouldn't matter much because they don't get to the line often.  Luol Deng is 7% behind his career mark from the line.  Ronny Brewer's stroke looks terrible, and is at 61%.  Carlos Boozer is shooting 3% worse than last year.  

With NBA players, it's not about practice.  The current MU basketball coach Buzz Williams was asked about free throws once, and if he practiced them in practice.  Williams responded "do you practice riding your bike?"  For Deng, I believe it's mental, and he'll probably return to form.  It's probably mental for a lot of other players.  But anyway you look at it, the percentage has to go up. 

You're not going to teach players to make free throws all of a sudden, but what you can do is get your best players to the line more often.  I know I've talked about this in the past, but it starts with Derrick Rose.  By Derrick making an extra 5% on his free-throws, he gains 0.25 on his PPG.  Increase it by 10% and it's a 0.50 increase.  That's if he stays at 5.3 FTA per game.  If he were to boost it to 7 the rest of the way, you're looking at close to 0.40 points per game or 0.80 points per game depending on the extra makes.  

This team will continue to be bad at free-throws unless something happens.  Like a trade.

The Bulls need a shooting guard
Keith Bogans is terrible, and shouldn't be on the team, much less the starting lineup.  I understand he's a veteran presence and all, but he's been god awful.  And it's not just that he isn't good, but when he plays, the Bulls get NO production in his 18 minutes while blocking two other guards.  There are days he doesn't do anything!  Those are minutes that could go to Brewer or Kyle Korver, two players that bring something to the court.  Bogans PER is a little over half of Brewer's at 7.7.  Brewer is at 14.1 and Korver 12.4, so it's not as if they're lighting up the joint, but it's better than 7.7.  

All the while, the Bulls went to Detroit and saw two former premier shooting guards light it up.  Rip Hamilton and Tracy McGrady have to share time with Ben Gordon at one position.  There's rumblings that Rip is ready to leave, and why blame him?  T-Mac was never really wanted by anyone.  

So if I'm Gar Forman, my first call after getting back to Chicago was to Joe Dumars and asked about Hamilton.  The game before the Bulls came to down, Rip beat the Raptors by himself (not hard to do) scoring 35 points, hitting 6-10 from three and 13-20 from the field.  Hamilton is the perfect player for the Bulls.  He has one year remaining on his deal, can shoot from the outside, can hit free throws, and has that "winner" label that everyone eats up.  Since he's older and only has one year left, how much would Rip cost?  The Bulls first round pick and James Johnson?  Depending on cap room, the Bulls might have to add someone.  

If Hamilton is too expensive, I say forget about T-Mac.  He's never really a guarantee to stay healthy, doesn't shoot particularly well, and can't defend like he used to.  But Rip would be real nice.

Other Notes
Why was Brian Scalabrine playing Sunday night at the end of the game?  He lost his man, and Charlie Villanueva scored on a put-back to send the game into overtime.  I understand taking out Kurt Thomas but do you really think James Johnson couldn't have gotten the rebound?  He's more athletic than Scal, stronger, can jump higher, etc.  I don't get it.  

Derrick really forced things on the road trip.  He committed 17 turnovers and took 72 shots in three games.  He was 30-72 from the field, 41.7%, and took some bad shots.  Of those 17 turnovers, five or six had to be him just losing his dribble.  Confusing trip for him.  I thought since Boozer was back, he'd look to let off the gas a little, and take better shots, but that hasn't happened.  

The Bulls are rolling well when Boozer gets a touch in the offense every time down.  That didn't happen vs. Detroit, especially down the stretch.  In the final six minutes, it seemed as if the Bulls were content on shooting jumpers.  When Carlos got the ball in OT, good things happened.  

If someone else mentions a Luol Deng resurgence, I'm going to lose it.  Sure, he looks more active, probably because he's healthy, but he hasn't had a good year overall.  He's been cold from two, better from three, and awful from the line (see above).  His PER is down from last year, too. But everyone's saying how good he's been, and I don't see why.  If he takes that fucking jumper after he takes the hand-off from Rose/Watson, I'm going to punch the TV.  It's aggravating.  Lu, you never make it.  It's not a good shot.  Why are you shooting it?

In the end, the Bulls were fortunate to get the game vs. Detroit, but things will only get better at home.  It's amazing that we're even in a position to be upset about a win in Detroit, doesn't it?