It’s been an interesting preseason so far. Without Derrick Rose, it was obviously going to be fascinating to see what the Bulls did. But this has been curious for different reasons.
First, it was interesting to find out that Carlos Boozer was still alive. Boozington has put in two straight good preseason games. As I’ve said before, Boozer is going to have to put up more than he did last year to keep the Bulls afloat. If the two most recent preseason games are any barometer, the Bulls should have some success. If the first few preseason games were any gauge, it is going to be a long season.
The next thing has been Thibodeau’s preseason rotation. I get that the starters may be a little rusty, and they need time together, especially the new piece in Kirk Hinrich. But these games don’t count for anything. Which means the starters should not be brought back in to keep a lead and finish the game. That’s how Rose got injured last season. That was for a playoff game which is a little more understandable. These are for nothing.
The bench is the part of this team that needs work. Belinelli is shooting worse than a blind pacifist. Nate Robinson is as erratic and unpredictable as ever. Jimmy Butler has been up and down after his impressive summer league. Nazr Mohammed has put in good offense numbers but still needs work. And Taj Gibson, the cornerstone of the bench, has struggled mightily.
Add in the fact that these guys, with the exception of Taj, are new to the team, and you would think they would be getting the most run. Even finishing games to get some experience. But that hasn’t been happening because the Bulls have to win in the preseason.
Ask the Lakers if they care at all about their preseason record this year (0-7). I can guarantee they don’t. Because that record will be erased in less than a week. Maybe someone should let Thibs that the same will happen to the Bulls’ record.
With this odd rotation, comes another problem I have. Why hasn’t Marquis Teague gotten more minutes? He has played 29 minutes the entire preseason. That’s less than five minutes per game. And this is with Hinrich sitting out time with injuries. Oh, and of course Rose is out as well.
Nate Robinson is a better player than Teague. I’m not arguing that. But I am arguing that Teague is more important to the future of the Bulls than Nate. Or Hinrich for that matter. The Bulls got lucky that Teague fell to them so late in the first round. He has a lot of talent. I have no idea how good of a pro he’ll turn out to be, we will have to wait and see for that, but shouldn’t the Bulls want to speed up his development?
Now is the time to allow him to grow. Preseason doesn’t matter, even if Thibs thinks it does. And it’s understandable he doesn’t trust a rookie, but he’s never going to trust him if he doesn’t give him a chance. Preseason is the time to make mistakes. Rookies make a lot of mistakes. So mess up when the win or the loss doesn’t mean anything.
But it’s too late for that. Tonight is the Bulls’ last preseason game. The chance to prepare is almost over. So the Bulls have to rely on the guys that Thibs trusts. And judging by the way the bench has played so far, it seems that trust list has shortened.
Indiana is in great shape to win the Central. The Bulls have an uphill battle if they want to be Central leaders. These teams will meet four times in the regular season. This one doesn’t matter, except to Thibs.