Hello everyone and welcome back to yet another season of Chicago Bulls basketball. I don't know about you guys, but I'm thoroughly excited that basketball is back on television, especially because it's started in the correct month. For those of you who are previous readers, you know how my grade posts work. For those of you who are new to Bulls 101, here's a brief explanation. I try to watch (most) every game and give a little player by player analysis on how each person played and impacted the game. Based off of the box score, eyeball tests, memorable plays, and several other random factors I assign a grade to each player. Grades can be anywhere from actual grades to whatever I want them to be (you will see the occasional frownie face).
Anyways, yesterday, after many significant changes to the roster, the Bulls tipped off the season with a home opener against the Sacramento Kings. Seeing as the Bulls had many new faces on the team and were also without the former MVP, Derrick Rose, I had fairly low hopes for this game. Much to my surprise, it wasn't that bad as Chicago pulled out the win 93-87. It wasn't the prettiest win but I'm sure we'll all take it. The biggest take away from this game is that this year we may see a very bipolar team. By that I mean we'll see flashes of a contender (as we did for the first five minutes of third quarter) and other times we'll see what seems to be a lottery bound team (the final seven minutes of the third quarter).
But enough of that. It was a good game and a good win. Let's move onto grades:
Noah just seemed to be everywhere on the court tonight. His presence on the boards was fantastic. Even if he wasn't rebounding, he was boxing out flawlessly and tipping balls out to teammates. On offense he was a juggernaut. While he only made six shots on the night (50% shooting), his aggressiveness helped him get to the line a total of 12 times (sinking 11 of them). Lastly, on defense he was a monster. In addition to the three blocks you see to the left, he added a monstrous five steals. While Demarcus Cousins did blow by him a few times, I'll forgive him. Overall, good game tonight by Noah and a strong way to start out the season.
As much as malign Boozer, he was fairly solid tonight. He drained his midrange jumper fairly consistently, though he did encounter some cold streaks. He made the extra pass a couple of times, something I haven't seen him do since his Utah days. And he actually tried a little bit on defense (he failed, but hey… good job good effort, right?). One thing that bothered me tonight was Boozer seemed reluctant to move around. No, I'm not talking about him not rotating on defense (that's a given). On offense, rather than fight for position or move to the ball, he would just stand there and try to push the opponent out of the way. It resulted in a grand total of two offensive fouls. Nothing major in the grand scheme of things, but still a waste of a possession. Overall, decent game from Boozer. I can't complain too much about this start to the season.
Terrible game from Deng. I'm not going to make a conclusive statement that I think it's the wrist injury from last year, but I'm almost 100% sure it is. Deng was just absolutely terrible today. From air balling some shots, to handling inside passes as well as Omer Asik, he just could not get anything going. He even missed a wide open bunny shot in the lane. I felt like I was watching Boozer against the Heat in the playoffs. Defensively he wasn't bad and on the boards he was very aggressive. So at least he didn't take himself out of the game completely despite a poor night on offense. Seeing as Deng has a much larger role this year, he's got to figure something out.
Rip had a pretty solid game tonight. While the shooting was fairly inefficient (16 shots total), I'm not going to complain. Without Rose, the Bulls need offense and at least Hamilton was getting it done to some degree. Obviously I'd like Hamilton to become better as the season progresses (or worse if we're going the tank route). Defensively though Hamilton was a non-factor. His rotations were strong, but Tyreke Evans repeatedly destroyed him. Needless to say I'd like to see improvement there as well. It hasn't been a bad start to the season for Rip, but there's much room to improve.
In Captain Kirk's first game back, he left quite a bit to be desired. I get that he's out there playing slightly hurt, but this game was just ugly. He missed quite a few open shots (except for one open three pointer very early in the first quarter). He did move the ball around well and did set up everyone pretty nicely so there's that. Defensively Kirk wasn't exactly memorable which to me either means I wasn't paying attention to him or he was average. Either way, it was a sub-par to decent way for Hinrich to start off the season. Hopefully he improves soon.
The bench was a mixed bag tonight. Nate Robinson at times made me "oooh" and "aahh" but at other times had me screaming at my laptop ready to throw it at the wall. Nazr Mohammed hardly played enough for me to car. Belinelli was lackluster on defense and offense but managed to knocked down some shots and move the ball well. And Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler were lackluster on offense but were, as always, solid on defense. Pretty average night if you ask me (though we don't know what average will be for this bench yet)
In my preseason post, I guessed that Thibs is going to rely heavily on his starters because I believe he doesn't have much faith in the bench. Tonight he didn't help disprove my theory. Just about every starter played a full 30 minutes with Noah playing a 40 minutes and Deng playing 41 minutes. No one on the bench got over 20 minutes. This does not bode well for the team in the long run as players will likely fatigue at an alarming rate. For this, I have to knock Thibs's grade considerably. Otherwise, I think he did a solid job as a whole.
It was an ugly win and I can't overlook that. But overall it was a good, strong effort from the team.
What I Expect For Next Time:
- More efficiency from the team on offense. There were quite a few wasted possessions tonight between bad passes, poor shot selection, and silly offensive fouls. If this team wants to win, they need to maximize EVERY possession
That about wraps it up for this game. I don't believe there is much else to say other than I'm glad that the Bulls and Taj Gibson (and his agent) were able to come to terms on a contract extension shortly after the game.
So, with that I'll leave you all. Thanks for reading and we hope you're looking forward to the next game.
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