Another preseason loss for the Chicago Bulls, this time 111-109 to the Detroit Pistons, as Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol had less than an impressive showing, while both Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson, along with Aaron Brooks playing off the bench, provided the sliver linings when it comes to individual ability and scoring.
Bulls fans are hoping that this trend of good game, bad game for Derrick Rose isn’t going to be something that lasts an entire season. Rust, which should be off of him by now after a summer of international basketball, can’t be used as an excuse the entire time. Rose keeps talking a very confident story line about being one of the best in the league again and winning a championship sometime soon, but it’s not going to happen, at least not this season, if he doesn’t elevate his game to being beyond the inconsistent and mundane.
After being mostly involved in defense and brawls in the first preseason outing, Jimmy Butler showed up in the loss to the Pistons with his shooting ability, which was missing at times last season due to a toe injury that simply wouldn’t disappear. He hit 7-of-9 from the field en route to 18 points, and in general the Bulls found it quite easily to score from close range, although the same can be said for the Detroit Pistons, who also featured D.J. Augustin, a point on the Bulls last season.
Pau Gasol didn’t have a great game, scoring just 6 points on 2-of-5 from the field but he did add 10 rebounds ans 5 assists, getting a lot of point-center time. Joakim Noah is out, not getting too much playing time coming off his knee surgery, and the combination of Gasol and Gibson is yet another one the Chicago Bulls will be able to use in a frontcourt that’s very deep and very varied. Thibodeau is going to need some time before he figures out how to exactly spread the time between the players.
Nikola Mirotic, who wowed everyone who don’t follow European basketball with his preseason debut, stayed away from taking shots himself in this game, finishing with 0 points on just one field goal attempt in 14 minutes. European players don’t immediately take over the NBA and just like Rose, Mirotic is going to have plenty of ups and downs this season, which calls for patience instead of frustration from the coaching staff and fans.
Greg Monroe was great for the Pistons off the bench with 24 points. It seems Stan Van Gundy will use him as the sixth man while Josh Smith and Andre Drummond, the better duo defensively, get the starting minutes. If Van Gundy is capable of taming Brandon Jennings and eliminating the long range shot from Smith’s game for the most part, this season will be a lot less depressing for a franchise that hasn’t been to the postseason since 2009.
As for the Bulls, their 0-2 preseason start means nothing, especially when considering how good they looked last season at this time and how the season came along eventually. What’s important is figuring out how this team is going to work, and probably more than anything, finding out what Derrick Rose is really going to be about this season. He’s the key to making the East more than a one-team show.