The Chicago Bulls look for a fresh start after getting blown out by the Houston Rockets Friday night. While the loss in preseason is meaningless, the fact the Bulls played bad basketball isn’t. The Bulls only have 3 games left to work out all the things that went wrong Friday, and it begins tonight against the same team that blew them out.
Projected Starters(Bulls): Coby White, Zach Lavine, Otto Porter, Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter
Bench(Bulls): Tomas Satoransky, Chandler Hutchison, Patrick Williams, Daniel Gafford, Ryan Arcidiacono, Noah Vonleh, Luke Kornet, Devon Dotson, Zach Norvell, Adam Mokoka, Cristiano Felicio, Simi Shittu
Inactives(Bulls): Denzel Valentine(hamstring), Garrett Temple(covid), Thaddeus Young(infection leg)
Projected Starters(Rockets): John Wall, Eric Gordon, Danuel House, Jae’Sean Tate, DeMarcus Cousins
Bench: Bruno Caboclo, Ben McLemore, David Nwaba, Chris Clemons, Kenny Wooten, Jerian Grant, Mason Jones, Gerald Green, KJ Martin, Brodric Thomas, Trevelien Green
Inactives: James Harden, Sterling Brown, PJ Tucker, Christian Wood
The two most glaring issues for the Bulls Friday night was perimeter defense and turnovers. The Bulls on the perimeter defensively could not contain their man.
The Bulls can’t just allow ball handlers to get to the paint so easily. They must have more pride in keeping their man in front of you. Some of these are unacceptable. It is preseason game 1 so let’s not panic. But if this is a common occurrence in tonight’s game, there will be cause for concern. I would like to see the perimeter defenders do a much better job at containing their guy.
The Bulls also committed 20 turnovers Friday night. If you turnover the ball 20 times, you will probably lose. Turnovers are bad, but the careless ones hurt the most. The Bulls had a ton of them Friday night. Instead of moving the ball, bigs were holding the ball on the perimeter too long and getting picked. Instead of the simple pass, players were trying to do too much. The Bulls have to show more value in taking care of the ball.
As a team, these are the two things I mainly want to see improve tonight. It isn’t so much about winning or losing. But the Bulls were blown out, because these two areas were executed poorly.
Individually Wendell Carter struggled Friday night. Specifically with Wendell, he went 0-5 from long range. Bulls coaching has encouraged Wendell to shoot more, and I would agree with this. Even with missing his 5 threes, fundamentally there is nothing wrong. In college, he was a respectable 3 point shooter. The shots he missed were good shots. Coaches want Wendell’s confidence to grow when shooting 3s, it will only expand his game even more. What I want to see is Wendell continue to not be shy, and shoot when open. After a 0-5 night, he can not get discouraged. Hopefully if the opportunities are there, Wendell takes them and hopefully starts to make them.
“If I had to give it a 1-10, I’d say a 3 or 4”, Coby White on his performance Friday night. Coby White had 15 points and 6 assist in 23 minutes last night, but I’m glad he recognized he wasn’t good. Defensively he had trouble containing his man. Offensively he scored the ball, but the offense did not run smooth with him on the court. White’s 6 assist were obvious one-pass away reads, which it is good he makes those passes. But he also missed a lot of opportunities.
Coby White is only 20 years old, so it isn’t about Coby White becoming a natural point guard tonight. It is clear he is learning the position. But what I would like to see is Coby focus more on getting his teammates involved so the offense runs more fluid with him on the court. White finding a balance between his scoring ability and running the offense is a big key to the Bulls’ success this season.
Daniel Gafford I thought had a rough game. He seemed to play out of his skill set. Holding the ball too long, or just forcing up shots in the paint. Perhaps they encouraged him to be aggressive, but he doesn’t seem to have the skills to do more than what he was asked last year. High energy on the glass and rim running pressure on the defense. He was solid in that role last year. Maybe he has worked on some new things, but I’m not sure I want to see the offense run through Gafford a whole lot more. But I guess it is preseason, so why not.
Again, I’m not so much concerned on whether the Bulls win tonight. What is important in preseason is they start to create habits that will produce winning. The turnovers and bad perimeter defense we saw Friday night will not produce wins, let’s break those habits.