Questions Continue to Loom as Bulls Fall to Pacers

Questions Continue to Loom as Bulls Fall to Pacers
Rajon Rondo goes to the basket against the Pacers' Jeff Teague and Paul George during the first half. (Darron Cummings / AP)

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.

Paul Zipser

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.

Rajon Rondo

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.


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  • I have always tried to be a positive-type Bulls fan. But I have to go negative on an issue that needs to be addressed to improve this team. The problem is the power forward position. Mirotic is definetly not the answer. In the first preseason game against Milwaukee he single handily lost the game. He was pathetic. He had the worst +/- on the team. He couldn't shoot, rebound or defend and lost every loose ball. In the second game against the Pacers he was almost egually as bad.

    Mirotic will never be a consistent 3 pt shooter because he does not have good shooting form. McDermott on the other hand has excellent form and will always be a consistent shooter. When they are on the floor together, Mirotic hogs the ball and jacks up lousy shots making no attempt to get the ball to McDermott when he is open.
    Here is the answer. Start McDermott at the 4 position. He is 6'8 and 230 lbs. He is a decent rebounder, an excellent shooter and at least tries hard on defense unlike the Matador. Since the rest of the starters are good rebounders for their position, rebounding is not the most important thing that you need from the 4 position. Spacing the floor and being able to shoot the ball is what is needed. Start the game with McD and make Taj the backup. Don't trade Taj! Trade Mirotic as soon as possible. Also, make Portis the backup center so when Lopez is out and Taj is in for McD, we have a big man that can shoot the ball. I believe they should make these moves. Go Bulls.

  • In reply to Jim Bob:

    2 games.., too early??? Niko sure looks Bad. Wonder IF you could trade him + a Snell and/or Grant and get solid #3 veteran who can play tough D and hit a #=pt shot?? Names????

  • In reply to Jim Bob:

    little dougie is 6'6.25 as measured at the Chicago pre draft camp, and will never be a 'power" forward, small ball or otherwise.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Oh no, that idiot Zach Lowe is at it again,

    "But I'm a little worried about the Spurs. Their defense and rebounding should take a hit with Pau Gasol sliding into Duncan's starting spot alongside LaMarcus Aldridge".

    How can that be when they've added the fourth or fifth best rebounder in the league to replace Duncan's career low rebounding totals from last year.

  • Mirotic blows. Except for a brief stint in his rookie year he has played awful. He's soft, turnover prone, a lousy shooter, a ball hog who takes poor shots, a poor decision maker and he can't guard anyone. He has been by far the worst player on the floor for the Bulls for these first two games. And that is saying a lot since for some reason Fred Hoiberg is still playing Tony Snell. Mirotic looks like he doesn't know what he is doing when he's in the game.

    Not only would I not start Mirotic, I would take him out of the rotation. It's time to cut bait. He can join Snell on the Windy City Bulls until the team can unload them both.

    On the plus side Dinwiddie looks good and I would move him ahead of the mediocre Jerian Grant in the rotation. Rondo has played well and it's nice to see a point guard know what the hell he is doing with ball for a change. Wasn't a fan of the Valentine pick but I would like to see him get minutes at the expense of Tony Snell. Sad he sprained his ankle and forced us to go through the torture of watching Snell get undeserved minutes in the pre-season.

    I don't agree with negative prognosticators and I do think the Bulls will make the playoffs. I am glad to see the cancer Rose and gimpy Noah off the team and look forward to seeing how the Bulls do this year. (Until I get aggrevated, of course).

  • The Bulls clearly need better and consistent rebounding and leadership at center. We miss Noah and all he brought to the table and to the community. Lopez Is a solid backup but on a routine basis he just cannot compete defensely or offensively with the current top centers.

    Mitotic may still be a couple of years away from being the player we expected him to assume. While he is mentally and physically adjusting trading him now for a young center may be a possibility. We need guys who can perform now.

  • In reply to penwit1:

    The Bulls do miss the healthy Noah. Unfortunately, he was frequently unavailable as in injured - even when he did play. And he could not even make 3-ft layups! It was reasonable to try someone else.

    Ditto with Rose for different reasons.

    Perhaps Wade and Rondo can help instill a winning attitude and work ethic. We will see. The Bulls need a team good enough to attract a solid FA next summer. Plus for some of the kids it may just take experience.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    Noah is gone, why focus on a negative past that's over with. We need a center that can rebound now, no matter how much practice in the pre-season and somebody has to go

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    Obviously,they are not yet playing as a cohesive unit.There is no clear leader on the floor.They need to collectively play as a team,especially on defense,they must have more ball movements to create spacing and open looks.Jimmy Buttler may be an all star,but i doubt it if he can lead the bulls successfully.I think Jimmy Buttler,Nikola Mirotic,Jerian Grant,and Tony Snell must be traded to the Detroit Pistons for Stanley Johnson,Boban Marjanovic,and a 1st round draft pick.Stanley Johnson would be an ideal replacement for Jimmy Buttler,and let Dwayne Wade lead the Chicago Bulls,just like he did in Miami.Boban Marjanovic would be a great back up center to Robin Lopez.Christiano Felicio should play center or power forward according to the needs,and let Taj Gibson and Bobby Portis as the legitimate power forwards.Stanmley Johnson,Doug McDermout,Paul Zipser,and D Valentine can rotate/switch between small forward and shooting guard.The point guard is adequate with Rondo, and Spencer Dinwiddie,plus maybe a third string point guard.

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    In reply to Lhon Rosales:

    As long as Buttler,Rondo,and Wade are on the team,there will always comes the issue on leadership,and this can prove to be the biggest difference,especially in tight games.Stanley Johnson is younger,hungrier,and a very promising talent who is never inferior to Jimmy Buttler.Boban Marjanovic can contribute,based on his performance,as a back up center to Tim Duncan in San Antonio Spurs,and will certainly add ceiling and depth on big men rotation.Felicio can have more playing time as he can switch from playing center and power forward..

  • In reply to Lhon Rosales:

    I love trades that involve guys we don't like going to another team that for some reason will love them, even though we can't wait to gid of them. And, of course, they will give us players they already love in return. Yeah, good idea for trade. Why not just trade Tony Snell for Steph Curry?

  • In reply to Vic Nardozza:

    get rid

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