Oh the glorious wonder of preseason basketball.
Even though the regular season kicks off October 27, it's great to watch basketball again. A new season brings new challenges and in the Bulls' case, a lot of new faces. With the constant questions surrounding this Bulls group, fans, media, and players alike will not truly know how good (or bad) this team will be until the real stuff begins. Even after Thursday night's 115-108 loss in Indianapolis there are plenty of questions that still need to be answered.
Power Forward Battle
The fight for the starting power forward waged on Thursday night. Nikola Mirotic, Taj Gibson, and Bobby Portis are all in the contention for the job. So far this preseason the big man from Montenegro has been a huge disappointment. The past two seasons from Mirotic have shown us that he has little confidence in his game and so far this preseason is proving no different. At times Mirotic looks lost on the floor, not knowing where to be and what to do. Against the Pacers, Mirotic failed to make an impact going 1-for-7 from the floor and an abysmal 0-for-5 from three. Bobby Portis finished with 6 points and 5 rebounds. Since coming out of Arkansas he has been known for his energy and ability to run the floor well, in his second year in the league the Bulls coaching staff will be looking for Portis to steadily improve. Gibson is always going to be reliable and added 10 points, but since the Bulls need shooters to space the floor Mirotic will ultimately be the starter.
Backup Point Guard
Round of applause for Spencer Dinwiddie. The guard out of Colorado who was signed by the Bulls in July had a crack at the backup guard spot and didn't disappoint finishing with 19 points in 23 minutes. Dinwiddie looked very poised and under control and lead the second unit to a much better showing than the first preseason affair. Jerian Grant did not have much of an impact and it is yet to be seen how much of an impact the guard acquired in the Derrick Rose trade will have on this transitional Bulls team. Grant failed to score going 0-for-2 from the field. The rookie Denzel Valentine is also in the discussion but will sit for two weeks after suffering an ankle sprain in Chicago's preseason opener against the Bucks.
Zipser proved that he is more athletic than we give him credit for. The second-round pick was impressive in his 14 minutes of action. The German rookie seemed very under control and did not rush things. Usually when a first-year player enters the game he tries to do too much. In Zipser's case he remained disciplined and had a good showing. He certainly exceeded some low expectations scoring 7 points. There are still inquiries surrounding Zipser and what he brings to the table but there were some encouraging signs Thursday night.
Look, there's no getting around it, Rajon Rondo has never been a favorite in Chicago and he's been commonly known as a cancer to any locker room he's step foot in. However, in his second game with his new team, the veteran guard delivered. Rondo finished going 6-for-7 from the floor with 5 assists and 5 rebounds, doing all of this while wearing a headband which will make team owner Jerry Reinsdorf toss and turn in his sleep. It will be interesting to see how this offense develops with the lack of floor spacing and three ball dominant guards in the starting lineup, but Rondo showed that he still has something left.
Overall, improvements were made (not including Mirotic) and no injuries occurred so that is a win for the Bulls. This team won't have to wait long to have another go at the Pacers. Chicago faces off against Indiana again Saturday night in the United Center. Hopefully continual strides will be made and the inquiries surrounding this squad will be acknowledged.