Joakim Noah here knows how I'm feeling about tonight's game. Sure, it's a preseason game. It doesn't matter. We won't know anything more about the team than we did before it, but with that disclaimer out of the way, I'm jacked up like a spider monkey on mountain dew for this one.
I don't care that it doesn't mean anything. I don't care that I'm blowing my friday night to stay home and watch preseason basketball. I'm psyched. 5 things to watch for tonight
1: How does Derrick Rose defend T.J. Ford?
One of the great things about this game is that Rose gets a tough defensive matchup right out of the gates. Ford is a small, fast, penetrating guard who will force Rose to work hard and focus for as much as the two are paired up together.
2: Luol Deng's health.
Does Luol look good on the court? How much does he play relative to the other starters? Is there explosion in his game, or does he look like he's struggling. You hate to keep bringing this stuff up over and over, but Luol's health is going to be one of the big themes this year until he's proven he's healthy, and we'll get our first glimpse of that today.
3: James Johnson's ability
In preseason, we'll probably get a bigger look at Johnson than we may get later on. It's his big chance to earn minutes in the season without an injury. It's always fun to watch rookies, and Johnson has a chance to grab doubters by the throat and force them onto the bandwagon.
4: Joakim Noah's conditioning
Joakim Noah's image has driven a lot of fans mad. I'm not one of them. I love the guy and have loved him since he was at Florida. However, he hasn't had great off-seasons his past two years. He promises that he worked hard this off-season, and this will be our first chance to see it. I don't expect him to come in and show us a ton of new post moves, but I do expect him to come in and hustle every minute he's on the court.
5: Does Tyrus look like he has break out potential?
After Derrick Rose's improvement and Luol Deng's health, is there any bigger X-factor in the season than what Tyrus Thomas brings us? I think not. Tyrus still has a chance to blossom into a star player even if we don't feel it's a good chance. He seems to have had an excellent off-season, and his switch to local trainer Josh Oppenheimer may have been a great move for him in allowign to work with a guy every day rather than for a few weeks like he was doing with Thorpe.
Honorable mention: What does Vinny do?
Of all of the pieces of the puzzle that are complete unknowns, you'll find out the least about Vinny tonight. Since it's a preseason game, you can't really see how he's managing the rotation. Rotations are meant to get guys minutes and different types of looks in preseason, not to win games.
You also can't necessarily judge the schemes used too much because they'll likely still be rusty after only practicing for a week. The preseason is different for everyone, and Vinny is a big X-factor this season, but we won't get to decipher his X until the regular season starts.