The Bulls got their first win of the preseason on Saturday night in Milwaukee, though as everyone knows, the score is among the least meaningful parts of a preseason game. Here are some thoughts on the players and where they stand so far:
-Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol, Jimmy Butler and Kirk Hinrich all played their most minutes so far as Tom Thibodeau has already begun to shrink the rotation just three games in. After 12 players saw action versus Washington and 14 in Detroit, just ten took the floor tonight.
-Rose had what may be his most encouraging game since returning this summer. The jumper that abandoned him all tournament with Team USA returned, as he hit 3-4 from beyond the arc. It’s still so easy to predict the outcome of his shots, as he showed in particular with one off-balance jumper that harshly careened off the backboard and rim. When his feet aren’t even, it throws off his balance and he tends to hang in the air too long as if the shoot button on the controller was held down too long.
-On the opposite end of the spectrum is Tony Snell. Nearly every shot he takes looks pretty, yet he can’t buy a bucket. 0-5 including three misses from distance, he failed to capitalize when given an opportunity with Mike Dunleavy taking the night off. Snell did have two wonderful passes to the screener after getting the ball off a screen, but he’s already in Thibodeau’s doghouse and regardless of how to distribute the blame for his struggles, he’ll have to find a way to play better or he’ll end up not playing at all.
-Gasol and Nikola Mirotic each had a couple blocks on defense, as well as some nifty passes on offense. When this team is healthy, neither of them will ever take the floor without Noah or Taj Gibson, so they won’t have to be perfect on defense. Their ability to impact shots and be physical when rebounding makes their respective floors much higher than the worst efforts of Carlos Boozer.
-Speaking of Taj, he was a little more in control. He seemed to be trying to prove a point a little too hard in the first two games, and looked much better playing more within himself.
-Jimmy took quite a few tumbles to the floor, including a couple when fouled on jumpers. He was visibly worn down by the end but still made his mark with a couple breakaway dunks as well as an alleyoop off of a beautiful lob from Doug McDermott.
-As for the rookie, he filled Dunleavy’s role rather seamlessly. The Bulls gave up a bunch of assets to get him, but he looks like the real deal. It’s not crazy to think McDermott usurps Dunleavy’s role at some point, with the Bulls unloading the veteran before the deadline (probably just to save money but one can hope).
-Hinrich and Aaron Brooks were solid. Kirk made his usual blunder or two but made up for them with a charge taken here and a made three there. Brooks could feasibly outdo whatever the Bulls would have gotten from D.J. Augustin this year, though that opinion depends on what you believe in more: Augustin’s entire career or how he performed in Thibodeau’s system.
-I’ve yet to mention the Bucks, who should have a much better year. They simply have more talent after adding Jabari Parker and getting Zaza Pachulia back, plus even just a bit of positive regression from Larry Sanders, Ersan Ilyasova, O.J. Mayo and newcomer Jared Dudley will go a long way. Most importantly, Giannis Antetokounmpo (which I’m proud to say I don’t have to look up) broke out a Eurostep *and* a sky hook.
-The Bulls will head back home for a Monday matchup with the Denver Nuggets.
Yay! New content! …but still nothing on the game against Denver? That game was awesome.
And just to get some discussion going: it struck me the other day that the Bulls could field the best all pasty-white lineup in the league. Heinrich, McDermot, Dunleavy, Mirotic, and Gasol. Hehe, Thibs would NEVER do it.
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