Give the Bulls a Break
While many have been critical of the Bulls’ performance this preseason, those seven games undoubtedly served their purpose. Fans saw what kind of well-oiled machine the Bulls have the potential to be at their absolute best, and how poorly the team can suffer when the pieces just aren’t clicking. The cynics should at least be satiated by the fact that while the Bulls lost a lot in the offseason, they gained some viable candidates to keep this team in playoff contention.
Yes, yes we are Jim. That is, if this injury-prone team is able to stay healthy.
Kirk Hinrich, the meat of ‘Operation Replace Derrick (Temporarily!),’ missed two preseason games with two separate injuries – a sore right thumb and right groin. He’s still hoping to play in the Bulls’ season opener Wednesday, but knowing Tom Thibodeau, it’ll likely be a game-time decision. The Bulls are lucky Hinrich’s injury isn’t serious, as he’s picked up where he left off and proven to be the glue and leader they need to keep things going.
But lucky for fans, the potatoes of the operation has quickly become a crowd favorite and a magnet for nonsensical Stacey King nicknames. Nate Robinson has done exactly what he promised us at Bulls Media Day, and that is be a much-needed spark off the bench, as well as an impactful offensive presence. In the two games he started in Hinrich’s place, Robinson averaged 22.5 points and 10.5 assists, often exhibiting his trademark airplane celebration move after a made basket.
I’m convinced that if we were to put Robinson on Hinrich’s shoulders they would form a mega-person that could almost fill the void of Derrick Rose. But since I think that might be against the rules, fans should be content with the level of skill the Bulls picked up in their new point guard one-two punch.
They’re both vocal players who have proved that they can lead an offense, and Bulls fans should be more focused on the improvement of guys like Marco Belinelli and Marquis Teague. Because unless David Stern makes some crazy last-minute rule change before Feb. 1, 2014 to allow for basketball mega-people, Rose just cannot be replaced. But the Bulls can come close.
Who’s Hot: Joakim Noah
Noah’s been lost in the shuffle with the focus on the new players and how they’re meshing with the team. Throughout last season and this preseason, Noah has been one of the Bulls’ more consistent players. I don’t think anyone would describe him as subdued, but he’s played a bit of the silent hero these last seven games. He’s averaged 10.4 points per game and 10.1 rebounds, and boasts the team’s highest preseason shooting percentage at 49 percent.
Who’s Not: Marco Belinelli
Belinelli was brought in as a semi-replacement for Kyle Korver, and while no one expected him to be as good as Korver, he hasn’t come anywhere close. Belinelli has been given the opportunity with decent minutes, but he put up goose eggs in the points column in two preseason games. He has one of the worst three-point percentages on the team, and he’s vowed to work on that before the start of the regular season.
Last week: Beat Oklahoma City 94-89 Tuesday, Beat Indiana 97-90 Friday
This week: Wednesday vs. Sacramento, Friday @ Cleveland, Saturday vs. New Orleans
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