Chicago Bulls

There’s a connection growing between Dwyane Wade and Cristiano Felicio

For the past month the Chicago Bulls’ offense has plummeted in the NBA ranks, as they now sitting 18th in offensive rating. Their hot shooting to start the season has regressed rapidly, and their fourth quarter showings have been abysmal to watch. If only to name a few of the offensive woes.

However if you look hard enough, there is a very slight silver lining developing within the Bulls struggles offensively; the budding chemistry between Dwyane Wade and second year center, Cristiano Felicio.

On the season thus far, Felicio has 31 made field goals in which 17 of those have been assisted on. This number isn’t remotely surprising seeing as though he’s still very raw offensively in terms of his post play. Most of his field goals have come out of the pick-and-roll and offensive put-backs.

But out of those 17 assisted field goals, eight different players have dished him the rock. The person with most assists to Felicio? Wade with nine.

The chemistry between these is two is becoming palpable when they share the court with each passing game. Specifically, when they’re working together within the pick-and-roll, which was evident from the Bulls first game of the season:

There are a few different reasons as to why this PnR duo has become so effective this season. The first of which is the mere presence of Wade acting as the ball-handler. With his play making abilities, Wade naturally draws the defense’s attention as he comes off the screen.

The Bulls cleared out the weak-side on this play which helped open up Felicio for the alley-oop. But look at the attention Wade receives by coming off of Felicio’s screen, all five players on the Wizards have their eyes set on Wade.

As for the other aspect(s) of this play, it revolves around Felicio’s ability to not only set an effective screen, but to roll out of it, catch the pass and finish through traffic. It’s rare to find young big men who can do all of those things well, especially on a consistent basis.

Felicio has quick feet, and great hands that provides Wade with confidence to continue feeding him. And also the fact that Felicio is 6’11 and over 260 pounds, so many won’t be stepping in front of him to contest.

The next step in Felicio’s development however, and within this play with Wade, is extending his range. As this play becomes more prevalent, teams across the league will begin scouting it, eventually taking away Felicio’s lane to roll to the basket. If Felicio is able to find a consistent touch from 12-15 feet out, it will add another dynamic, in turn keeping the defense on its heels.

And if head coach Fred Hoiberg can figure out (don’t hold your breath) how to space the floor for this PnR, with say players like Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic, it will present the offense with more options. That’s a way in which you can evolve an offense in the halfcourt, but alas, we’ve yet to see that.

But with Felicio’s ability to set adequate screens and roll out of them, along with the defense’s attention being drawn to Wade, it should continue to lead to efficient opportunities for the former to score.

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