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Bulls vs. Pistons preview: Rondo, Wade and especially Butler are making it work in Chicago

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It won’t be long until Jimmy Butler is universally considered a top ten player.

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Detroit Pistons Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

When Dwyane Wade (thanks Prava88) and Rajon Rondo were signed in the off-season, immediately the focus of the the Bulls’ offense turned towards shooting; specifically the lack of it in Chicago’s starting lineup. With so much emphasis in today’s NBA placed on spacing the floor properly, how could Wade, Rondo and Bulls’ superstar Jimmy Butler share starting minutes? What was the front office thinking?

NBA Twitter laughed and predicted doom as it seemed only a matter of time before the experiment went south.

Well, NBA Twitter is still waiting for that "doom" to kick in. The Bulls are winning and doing it without much use of the three point shot. In a 30-team league, the Bulls rank 29th in three point attempts per game. No. 30, you ask?

Your Detroit Pistons.

Game Vitals

When: December 6th @ 7:30PM EST

Where: Palace of Auburn Hills; Auburn Hills, MI

Watch: Fox Sports Detroit

Analysis

How many conversations include Jimmy Butler as a top ten player? By the end of this year, the correct answer should be all of them. Butler has always been a fantastic perimeter defender and now with a points per game average hovering around 25, his offense isn’t far behind. Punishing defenders in the restricted area has helped raise Butler’s scoring ceiling; his average points in the paint has gone up every year. This aggressiveness gets him easy points in another way: He’s attempting 9.9 free throws a game.

Sharing the floor with Rondo and Wade - two more than capable ball handlers - allows Butler to play more off-the-ball, something defenses must also account for:

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For the second time now, Dwyane Wade is being asked to change the ways he plays basketball for the betterment of the team. First, obviously, with LeBron James in Miami and now alongside Butler in Chicago.

Wade is notorious for attacking the rim and a gentle mid-range touch, but of his current total field goal attempts this year, less than 80 percent of those are two point attempts - which, if continued, would be the first time in his 14 year career at under 80 percent.

Of course this means an uptick in beyond the arc activity.

After attempting only 44 three point shots in 2015-’16, Wade is already at 57 and hitting a career-high 36 percent.

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While the Orlando loss was certainly a let down, an awkward transition period should’ve been in the forecast as Reggie Jackson returns to action. However, with or without Jackson there are a few reoccurring plays that should be nipped in the bud:

Don’t lose track of Andre Drummond on offense!

Both Leuer and Harris are smart enough to see one pass ahead and if Drummond has two feet in the paint and no one around him, give him the ball. Leuer and Harris’ shots go in but the better basketball play is to get Dre an easy look.

Overall the defense has been outstanding, but defending the pick and roll still causes issues. It’s impossible to pin point fault so this should be labeled a team fail:

In the first example, Harris has got to a better job of corralling the ball handler and then recovering. If, however, they are switching, then there is no need for Jackson to get sucked in that deep. It’s a bad play anyway you slice it.

In the second play, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope gets picked off at the top of the key and does very little to get back into the play, leaving Drummond in an impossible situation. Can’t leave your boy hung out to dry like that.

As always, it’s easy to pick apart film and while missing Drummond is somewhat of a new cringe, the lackluster pick and roll defense has been around.

But! It’s not all doom and gloom from mophatt1!

It’s probably safe to say the Ish Smith fan club has grown over the past couple games and some of us - cough, me, cough - never left Ish Island.

Earlier in the year it seems the Pistons were trying to force feed a Smith/Drummond pick and roll. While on paper it made sense, the efficiency never held water. Now, SVG is tad more comfortable utilizing Smith in a pick and pop with other capable shooters and playmakers (and no lane clogging rolling big) giving the ultra quick Smith room to make plays:

No one is arguing that Smith is an everyday starter in this league but man, he can be a helluva backup. It’s no slight to Beno Udrih, but I think Smith deserves to the BUPG and having a 3rd PG in Udrih is nice luxury - how was he available?

Projected Lineups

Chicago

Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade, Robin Lopez, Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler

Detroit

Reggie Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Andre Drummond, Marcus Morris, Tobias Harris

Prediction

As the Pistons continue to ease Jackson back into their rotation, the remainder of the roster can’t let up their production. Over the past week or so, each starter has carried the team in one way or another and this will need to continue against Chicago.

The Bulls are one of the best rebounding teams in the league - especially on the offensive end. If Drummond/Harris/Morris could negate some of those offensive rebounds, the Pistons could capitalize in transition.

Rondo missed their last game due to suspension (conduct detrimental to the team); is this the beginning of the end?!?!

It’s easy to lose track of Taj Gibson. Don’t do that.

Butler is having an MVP-type start to the season, Wade can still do Wade stuff and Rondo is probably going to be pissed - Mad Rondo is not good for the Pistons.

With Jackson still getting settled, it’s bad timing....

Bulls 101, Pistons 97