I found several bright spots in the Bulls debacle with the Bucks Wednesday night.
First, and possibly most important, by the second quarter I'd lost all appetite for a snack, which is a considerable boon to my latest diet. So the blowout was good for my heart--literally. Second, it was easy to do many other things during the
game without missing any important action, so it was a productive night for me.
And third, we got to witness a supreme act of humanitarianism on the part of the Bucks who could have won by 50 points but for a wave of sympathy...and maybe a serious case of the giggles as they ducked the caroming bricks the Bulls launched in
the general direction of the basket. Oh well, every team has a stinker of a game in them. Maybe our Bulls got theirs out of the way early. Let's hope.
Meanwhile, the Bucks were wheeling the ball around for nice looks. It's the issue facing these Bulls players. They are talented, but can they play together? Do they want to? They seem to like one another. The locker room patter is comfortable and
convivial. They all came in weeks before to work together, every one. That never happened once when the Bulls were winning titles. It wasn't so much that Parker missed 12 consecutive shots, a streak that extends to Game 3 Monday in Charlotte, but
so many were isolation efforts. The Bulls did get a little bit going early with some nice two-man game with LaVine and Kris Dunn, and Dunn was the most impressive among the starters in Game 2. He seemed much improved as a finisher and probably
should shoot more. Which you wouldn't have said last season. LaVine may be the closest, but the Bulls don't have a reliable go-to guy yet like the Bucks do with Antetokounmpo, someone who can make plays to freeze the defense.
I like that Hoiberg has them trying to penetrate with the dribble more this season instead of the dribble weave that led to more isolations. But Hoiberg was hamstrung previously as players like Rose, Butler and Wade preferred to play that way.
The problem now is the two best percentage three-point shooters from last season, Markkanen and Valentine, are out injured. So defenses are not exactly opening up to chase players off the three-point line. Thus the inside gets more congested and
too many of those shots are forced. The transition looks good, but it's more difficult when you're not preventing many baskets. With positions changing, experimentation and essentially a starting five beginning all over again, it's difficult to
create that trust from ball movement. Of course, they only have played two practice games. We'll give them, what, three more?
I'm watching the game against the Bucks, and Hoiberg has just taken another time out to start the third quarter. Bulls are completely nonchalant on defense, Fred has been taking time outs every time someone gets blown by on D, so it's obvious he
is getting annoyed. I won't pretend to be a coach, but when I watched this last time out, Fred spent the first half of the time out chatting amongst the coaching staff before addressing the team. I don't know if it's just me, but what on Earth is
there to talk to the coaches about? It's not a strategy issue, it's an effort and attitude issue. To me, that is when you go straight to the team and address the issue directly - strike when the iron is hot. Don't let it diffuse, and let the
players think they've gotten away with it. He has to own the team, not the players. No one expects this team to contend for anything, even though some are saying there's a chance at an 8th seed in a weak East. But we want to see effort,
especially with the season just starting, and this being a young team. I get that Fred has a calm coaching style, but that doesn't mean he shouldn't be able to address issues directly with the team when they come up - the head coach has to be able
to do and say the tough things when they have to.
I realize Fred has been dealing with a revolving cast of players as the Bulls transitioned from an established team to rebuilding mode. Unfortunately for Fred, the rebuild did not start until his third year. I hope the last three years on his
contract are enough for Fred to establish his system/culture with the young payers. Coaching continuity has to be at the foundation of any culture/system building enterprise. You can clearly see that GarPax seek to build a culture by drafting
high character players since Kirk Hinrich. These are the type of players that will more readily embrace team goals and sacrifice their own individual scoring in the process. I really like how Bobby Portis is embracing his role on the second
unit. However nobility and character will only go so far until it comes time for contract negotiation. Then it becomes every man for himself.
Do you think the Bulls can recreate the success that the Atlanta Hawks did a few years ago with that 60 win team? That team seemed to have recreated the magic of team offense and defense (a la San Antonio) but lost it as soon as DeMarre Carroll
left in free agency. Carroll provided a crucial defensive element to that team. I think Houston is similarly vulnerable this year due to the defensive losses of Mboute and Ariza. The Bulls seem like they have the potential to put together a good
team offense where 30 assists a game is a team goal embraced by everyone. Unfortunately, I do not see all the necessary ingredients on the defensive side. Thibodeau's lack of success on defense with the Timberwolves proves you need good defensive
players to pull off good team defense. We need a Kevin Garnett or a Kawhi Leonard type player to lead the defensive charge. Is there even a Kevin Garnett type in the league at present? Draymond Green maybe, but I question his fit with the Bulls.
Demarre Carroll is on the last year of his contract ($15 mill annual)with Brooklyn at age 32. Do you see any fit there?
Jamal Crawford to the Bulls? We need some 3 pt shooting. And what about Korver. I know he's not the type to demand out, but he must feel that the Cavs are not where he wants to be at this stage of his career. Will be a hot commodity at the
deadline for a contender?
What is a high grade lateral elbow sprain?
Miami needs to clear space for a Jimmy Butler trade. What about trading JJ for Asik? Miami gets tax relief in 2019 and the Bulls get some much needed help at small forward defensively.
Is it obvious that Jabari is pretty out of shape? He was a guy who was very mobile and explosive for his size. I didn't see him get up once, and he looks slow.
I disagree with the decision to start Jabari as power forward. Basically they will waste eight weeks of real basketball competition that can allow Jabari to get used to the small forward position. When Lauri comes back, it will be close to
starting from scratch. It doesn't make sense unless they think that Jabari is not ready.
Do the Bulls actually practice throwing up bricks?
This is gonna be a fun year to watch the Bulls, especially when Lauri gets back.
Here's my East:
- Toronto Raptors
- Boston Celtics
- Philadelphia 76ers
- Milwaukee Bucks
- Washington Wizards
- Indiana Pacers
- Cleveland Cavaliers
- Detroit Pistons
- Miami Heat
- New York Knicks
- Chicago Bulls
- Charlotte Hornets
- Orlando Magic
- Brooklyn Nets
- Atlanta Hawks
Raptor additions will fit the team nicely, and they will come out running on all cylinders to start the season though they will not win the NBA title. Celtics will take time to find their grove given log jam with Hayward coming back. The Pacers
will be good but I think the Wizards will have a make or break season with former All-Star Howard who can still put up big numbers to join Porter-Beal-Wall. The Cavaliers will be good with their veteran lineup and should make the playoffs. Sexton
I expect to be a big contributor. The Pistons will make the playoffs with their big men combo. The Heat fall out as they get older with the likes of Wade and Dragic both in their thirties. Good veteran team. I think the Knicks have a chance to be
better than the Bulls. Kanter-Kristaps-Knox-Hardaway-Frank N. The Bulls will struggle to find their identity, I think, specifically in the back court. Remember that the draft lottery odds will work on a different level in favor to Chicago.