Chicago Bulls – Still Looking for That go to Guy

For one night, it was Marco Belinelli, who finished in double digits for only the fourth time this season. You never know where it’s going to come from in the case of the Chicago Bulls. Luol Deng, who struggles coping with the main guy role, is the favorable option for the team. Joakim Noah can be one once in a while, but that’s not his thing. Carlos Boozer? No one really expects much from him these days.

The Bulls are 9-8 to start the season. In truth? A little disappointing. The team that was tied for the best record in the NBA last season went 18-9 without their star point guard last year. They collapsed without him in the postseason, but Noah’s injury was also a part of that first round exit.

The Bulls have the best defense in the NBA, allowing only 90.9 points per game, a league best. It also has to do with their pace of game, scoring only 93.4 points per game, ranked 23rd in the NBA. They’re forcing teams to only 42.6% from the field, 3rd best in the NBA. But the offense is simply not taking off, and the feeling that everyone is waiting for Rose to come back and take over the point guard position once again is halting this team.

For now, and there’s no way around it, it’s Kirk Hinrich’s job. He used to do a better job of running an offense before he got shipped off to Washington, but that was a different Bulls team, mostly based on jump shots and streaky nights from Ben Gordon. This is a much more physical team, that needs its guards, like Hinrich, Belinelli and Hamliton (when he’s healthy) to open up things so Noah, Boozer, Gibson and Deng can operate in the paint. Deng is especially effected by this, as he begins taking bad shots when the Bulls’ offense gets stuck.

When things work, like they did against the Cavs, it was because someone took a step up from the outside. Marco Belinelli, starting for the injured Rip Hamilton, scored a season high 23 points, despite having a rough night from beyond the arc (only 2-8).

He drove, he got to the line, he was able to catch-and-shoot. He’s a very good catch-and-shoot player, so we wanted to play off that. Each day, he’s playing better.

Problem is? It’s quite uncertain if the Bulls can count on this kind of production from Belinelli, who is averaging 6.2 points with 39% from the field this season. A team that can’t count on anyone to be the guy to open up defenses for them is in big trouble, especially when there isn’t anyone who can consistently create shots for himself and others. Nate Robinson, always somewhat of a coin toss as to what side of the bed he woke up on, isn’t the answer to these problems.

Thanks to the defense, the Bulls are still pretty much a team that can’t be counted out against any opponent, although they find a way to lose against most of the more serious teams. Not having that go to guy is quite a burden. Defense can take you all the way, but you need someone to finish the job. Despite the attempts to thrust different players into that role, it seems the Bulls will have to hope someone else does it each night, and keep waiting for the return of Derrick Rose.

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