Anyone who watched the Bulls second preseason game of the season, the one where Richard Hamilton came in to start at shooting guard was amazed at the difference he made. 13 points on 12 shots with two turnovers is nothing special, but it's the six assists that really highlighted what a difference he made.
The whole offense moved better with Hamilton in the game. Derrick Rose faced less pressure. The Bulls had 30 assists on 39 baskets. The whole team had better looks. When all five guys on the floor were a threat to score or pass from the right spot, it made the Bulls incredibly difficult to defend.
Fluke or future? Is it enough to get past the Heat?
If Hamilton plays like this all season then Miami will not be to defend Chicago like they did last year. The era of throwing the two best perimeter defenders at Rose in a double team in every possession will officially end. It won't be an option, because the Bulls finally have someone to burn teams who try.
In one preseason game, it unfolded into the best case scenario; there's still a part of me that can't believe it that doesn't want to believe it and get my hopes up. I remember Korver throwing up 20ish points in an early [first?] preseason game last year and thinking "no one will stop this offense with Korver in it" only to find out it was fools gold. A performance that couldn't be repeated.
It feels different this time. With Korver, he had never been the type of player he looked like in that game. I was hoping that he'd become something that his previous seven years in the NBA already told me he wasn't.
With Hamilton, I'm hoping that at age 34, he's still what he was in the first nine years of his career and a bit better than the last three when he played for a losing team where he was a terrible fit. He fits perfectly into this group, and as the games go by, we'll find out how much of the last three seasons was a decline in his ability relative to a decline in his situation.
Through one preseason game, it couldn't look any better than it did. Derrick Rose scored a mere 12 points. A point total like that would typically spell disaster for Chicago in the past, but now it might spell victory. Through one game, Hamilton raised the level of the whole team with his play.
Can he do it for a season? Can he do it for a playoffs?
If he can, Derrick Rose will have the room to operate on Miami that he lacked last season. He'll have the room that LeBron, Wade, and Bosh are afforded every night by playing with each other. The Bulls won't be bringing a knife to the gun fight in may/june this year.
Let's just hope it wasn't a fluke.
[random side note, if you hadn't heard, Kobe is questionable for the season opener with a torn ligament in his wrist]