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Here's where 2023-24 Bulls finished in major statistical categories

9th seed to face Atlanta Hawks in play-in game on Wednesday at United Center

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The Chicago Bulls entered the 2023-24 season with hopes for improvement.

Last offseason, they re-signed Nikola Vucevic, Coby White and Ayo Dosunmu and added Jevon Carter and Torrey Craig in free agency.

The internal plan centered on a new-look offense and changed shot profile making the trio of Vucevic, DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine more impactful collectively after strong individual seasons from all three in 2022-23 produced merely the 24th-ranked offense; jumps from White, Dosunmu and Patrick Williams; and significant contributions from the newcomers.

Instead, LaVine and Williams had season-ending surgeries, Craig battled injuries off and on and Carter never found consistent minutes and the Bulls finished one game worse than last season but one seed higher. They will play host to the 9-10 play-in game against the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday at the United Center.

White and Dosunmu both enjoyed breakout seasons. DeRozan led the NBA in minutes played and enjoyed another strong season. Vucevic again averaged a double-double and posted his highest scoring average for a full season as a Bull at 18 points per game.

But while the team showed resilience overcoming a 5-14 start and injuries and led the NBA in clutch victories, the individual success stories didn't impact the standings much.

Here's where the Bulls finished in major statistical categories that they made as preseason focuses:

Offensive rating: 114. NBA rank: 19th

LaVine didn't play up to his standards in his mere 25 games before undergoing season-ending foot surgery. Losing Williams hurt too.

But with White posting career-highs across the board, Dosunmu showing major improvement and DeRozan and Vucevic again posting near their typically strong career averages, the offense still stagnated far too often.

The Bulls finished 28th in PACE at 96.94. In crucial moments, they again typically resorted to isolation plays for DeRozan.

Perhaps the biggest indictment of the offense is that it finished top-10 since the arrival of Javonte Green, whose cutting instincts, ability to run hard in transition and consistent energy jazzed the group. The Bulls' offensive rating of 116.3 since Green's arrival ranked eighth.

Defensive rating: 115.7. NBA rank: 22nd

This is the Bulls' biggest dropoff.

Last season, with largely the same personnel, the Bulls finished fifth at 111.5. The additions of Carter and Craig, two defensive-minded players, was supposed to bolster this.

Instead, the Bulls struggled all season guarding the 3-point shot, allowing the most attempts and second-most makes. They also fouled more than coach Billy Donovan would like, allowing the 17th-most free throws by an opponent.

And Donovan consistently talked about struggling to contain point-of-attack defense, which would then compromise a defense in which Vucevic was largely used in non-switching situations.

Alex Caruso is a virtual lock to repeat as first-team All-Defense and provided some jaw-dropping sequences all season. But even with NBC Sports Chicago's Stacey King claiming there "are five Carusos out there," the reality is there weren't.

3-point makes, attempts: 11.5, 32.1. NBA ranks: T-26th, 26th

The Bulls placed major emphasis on this category, signing two solid 3-point shooters in Craig and Carter and hiring a widely respected shooting coach in Peter Patton, a local product. Patton, who served a larger role in Director of Player Development, was widely lauded by multiple players, and his benefits likely will pay off moving forward.

But the shot profile didn't change this season. Obviously, the losses of LaVine and Williams and the nagging injuries to Craig hurt. So did the fact Carter never found consistent minutes in Donovan's rotation and Lonzo Ball's continued absence.

But once again, the Bulls found themselves on the wrong end of a math problem too often. On average, they lost the 3-point battle by nine points per game.

Turnovers, offensive rebounds: 12.2, 11.2. NBA ranks: 3rd, 8th

The Bulls did succeed in these two areas of focus.

They set a franchise record with just 12.2 turnovers per game. It's the second straight season they finished top-10, but they committed even fewer than last season's 13.4 per game.

And they jumped from 28th to eighth in offensive rebounds per game, largely on the strength of Andre Drummond plus Craig's addition.

Clutch victories: 27. NBA rank: 1st

What a wild team.

They came back from 20-point deficits multiple times, then lost at home to the Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards.

But when it came to crunch time, the Bulls delivered consistently in the clutch. These games are defined by being within five points and 5 minutes to play or less. They excelled in these games during the playoff season of 2021-22 but tailed off badly last season, winning just 15 games to tie for 26th.

But the Bulls finished 27-17 this season and their net rating of plus-23.5 ranked second behind only the defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets. Their success in these moments is largely what allowed them to overcome their slow start to, as DeRozan put it, have a shot.

"It gives us an opportunity to salvage so much of what we went through and not let the season go in vain," DeRozan said. "It would suck for us to be going home with everything we went through. Now we have a chance to make something of this season."

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