Chicago Bulls Preseason Takeaways


The Chicago Bulls preseason is a wrap! My appetite for basketball has turned into a craving for meaningful basketball; the goods news is we’re only two days away from opening up the regular season against Ronald Agers’ New York Knicks (be sure to let the editor know your thoughts on his team). What have we learned this preseason? What if anything can we take away from the exhibitions? Let’s look at some key takeaways from the month and view how they factor in to the upcoming season.

Below you’ll find a quick recap and gathering of thoughts on the play of the starters so for this preseason.

Derrick Rose

Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

The Good: Derrick Rose led the team in scoring this preseason putting up 16.5 points per game. The impressive part wasn’t how much he scored it was how he scored. Rose has spoken several times about knowing he needs to adapt his game. We received a preview of that evolution this October as Rose featured more floaters and 3-pointers in his offensive game.

Speaking of 3-pointers, Rose shot 43% from downtown during the pre-season. For reference, Stephen Curry shot 42% from beyond the arc last season. This would put Rose in the same category as some of the elite shooters in the league, an aspect that would surely open up the floor for him and his teammates.

The Bad: “If Healthy” is a crappy nickname, but it seems to be uttered every time anyone mentions Derrick Rose. Every time Derrick takes contact or hits the deck I still hold my breath. Rose has prepared himself for the season and has been playing excellent basketball. Questions surrounding him will never be about his ability as a basketball player, there he is proven. It is the unknown and uncontrollable that keeps Rose’s fans on edge, and will continue to do so all season.

My Outlook: Two overlooked aspects of the preseason that Bulls fans should be celebrating is that Rose was able to accomplish all he did while only averaging 22 minutes per game and that he only turned the ball over 1.5 times a game. The Bulls may be placing a minutes restriction on Rose to start the season, from these 8 games however we’ve learned that Rose can still impact the game, even in limited minutes. If he can keep the scoring up and the turnover down like he did in October, Rose will be primed for an excellent season

Jimmy Butler

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The Good: Butler was awesome this preseason! His defense remains elite and he’s been playing within his abilities on offense allowing him to score with much higher efficiency. Butler shot 59% from the field while scoring 15.8 points per game, if we get this Butler throughout the season the Chicago Bulls will have something to say about Cleveland and Washington’s “best back-court” feud (let’s face it though, as of right now, Golden State has the best back-court).

The Bad: Butler injured his thumb causing him to miss the last two preseason games. Butler played through a turf toe injury last season and many, including myself, felt it hampered his ability on offense. I’d hate to see Butler suffer again from a nagging injury, fortunatly it’s on his non-shooting hand and the Bulls have wisely used this time to let the injury heal rather than allowing Butler to attempt to play through it.

My Outlook: I’m gonna borrow a phrase from Deion Sanders here, “Pay The Man!” The Bulls need to lock up Jimmy Butler, we saw the high prices wings demand in today’s NBA this off-season. Butler’s value will go nowhere but up so it’d be best to secure him to a deal now. The additions of Rose and Gasol to the lineup should benefit Butler greatly, something I feel we’ve already caught a preview of with Butler’s increased offensive efficiency.

Mike Dunleavy Jr.

Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

The Good: Mike Dunleavy is doing exactly what we pay him to do, knocking down three pointers and playing system defense. I believe the effect Rose and Gasol have on this team will be most evident in the play of Butler and Dunleavy. So far both have scored more efficiently throughout the pre-season than they did last year, a trend that if continues should push the Bulls’ offense out of the gutter it’s been in the past two years.

The Bad: I really have no complaints about Dunleavy’s game. He’s a veteran player who was brought in as a specialist to fill a certain role and he’s doing just that.

My Outlook: Some Bulls fans are calling for McDermott to start over Dunleavy, I feel these fans are suffering from “shiny new object” syndrome. Dunleavy is still the better player today and we play games in the present, not the future. Dunleavy can be counted on to perform in his role and will do so throughout the season as a consistent contributor.

Pau Gasol

Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Good: Welcome to the Block Party Chicago! Gasol led the entire NBA in block per game for the pre-season. Gasol’s shot blocking brings a whole new element to our team’s defense that’s been absent in years past. Gasol seems to be fitting in great on defense knowing where to be and how to use his size to his and the Bulls’ advantage.

The Bad: Most new players to the Bulls system seem to struggle in adapting Tom Thibodeau’s defensive system. The opposite appears true for Gasol who looks to be much more comfortable on defense so far than offense. Through October Gasol is scoring and shooting below his career averages as he adjusts to his new teammates.

My Outlook: I’m not overly concerned about Gasol’s scoring at this point in time. Gasol is a Hall of Fame caliber player (yeah you heard me). He’ll find his way in the Bulls system; Gasol is primed to be a vast improvement over the Boozer of year’s past and looks to be a great signing by the Bulls front office.

Joakim Noah

Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

The Good: After leading the offense last season I was curious as to what Noah’s role would become with the return of Derrick Rose. I’ve been excited to see the Bulls still running offense through Noah who led the team in assists throughout the pre-season. Having a talented passer and playmaker at the center position is an advantage the Bulls should continue to use take advantage of and one I’m happy to see wasn’t forgotten with the new additions.

The Bad: The bulky knee-brace Noah has sported throughout the pre-season is yet another reminder to Bulls fans about the importance of health. They say all championship teams feature a mixture of skills and luck, with our large chunk of luck pertaining to the health of your players. The health of Noah’s knee will be on the mind of fans all season as his inclusion on our roster is as crucial as anyone’s.

My Outlook: We finally have solid depth in our front-court, something that should help keep the minutes, wear & tear, and toll of the season down our big men. If we can properly manage the playing time of our bigs we should, with luck, be positioned to enter the post-season with a healthy front-court.

Next up I’ll be reviewing the play of our bench during the preseason, a unit that features two key returning contributors, three new faces (including two rookies), and a player struggling to find a role. See you next time!