Mark did a nice initial write up of the outcome of the Bulls and Spurs, but I after a good night's sleep I had a few thoughts about the game and how it pertains to the rest of the season. First, for one game anyway, Luol Deng was right and shut everyone up. There were things that concerned me about Luol in this game. He took a lot of tong twos, which I just can't stand. You're literally 1 foot inside the three point line. Is the shot really that much harder if you take a step back. Most memorable was the time he got an offensive rebound about eight feet from the basket, ran to the three point line, and shot a turn around, contested jumper from six inches inside the three point line. Which he made.
Anyway, ignoring the long twos, as I hated them even in his good seasons, Luol showed explosiveness on the court. He either healed considerably over the week that the Bulls had between the last preseason game and tonight, or he was just playing it really safe in preseason. Either way, if Luol Deng can leap and move the rest of the season like he did tonight then he's going to be very valuable for the team this year and a whole lot of people will be signing the apology card.
Does that mean Luol is worth his massive contract? No. Luol probably isn't ever going to rise to the level of a guy who's worth his salary which is a 2nd best guy on a team type figure. However, if he becomes a guy who helps you win, but he's overpaid by a few million then it's really not that big a deal anymore. He'll be a very valuable guy who could easily be traded for an expiring.
Next, Derrick Rose played a fine game. He didn't turn the ball over and had seven assists. He score 13 points, made it to the line five times, and overall looked healthy which was our biggest concern. Besides one comically bad defensive play at the end of the game, he looked improved on that end of the court as well.
Those are all good things, and hopefully Derrick improves as he finds his wind and comfort in the offense after a long lay off. Still, a few things last night touched on concerns I've had with him over the summer. He's not scoring points efficiently. The difference between Zach Randolph and Tim Duncan is efficiency. Rose scored his 13 points on 14 possessions (not counting TOs just shots or possessions ending in FTs). That's not particularly good.
The good news is that he did get a whistle on three drives to the basket resulting in five free throws. If he can average five free throws a game it will definitely be a big step forward, and if he can hit 80% on those free throw attempts then it should add to his effeciency considerably.
I'm only bringing this up due to the extraordinarily high standard and hopes Rose brings to the table. He can make incremental improvements to his game and become a top 20 player, but if he's ever going to be the guy who leads us to a championship we're going to need to see a massive increase in his scoring efficiency.
Quite frankly, I'm not sure he has the mentality to become a top five guy though. You look at those guys and they're almost always hyper aggressive as young players, forcing bad shots, and being ball hogs. They then learn to settle down and find their spots and improve efficiency as they age. Rose is prone to playing passively.
Ultimately, you have to realize this is holding him to an incredibly high standard to bring it up. It's not a criticism I'd make about a player his age unless I thought they had massive potential. All-star level seems extraordinarily likely for Rose, but his game is going to require significant changes to become the championsihp level franchise guy we hope he an be.
That said, it was great just to see him back on the court, playing healthy, and having a nice overall game.
Overall, it was simply outstanding just to see the Bulls in action again last night. They kicked of the season with a quality win against a quality opponent. There's nothing more you could ask for in game 1.