Luol Deng stars, Derrick Rose scrubs

Luol Deng stars, Derrick Rose scrubs

Up is down? Down is up? Cats and dogs living together? It’s the end of days. Derrick Rose’s 9.4 PER heading into this game? Yeah, it went down. Luol Deng? He’s playing like he wants one more big pay day. The Chicago Bulls edged the Bobcats in a fairly ugly affair.

Now before I panic over Derrick Rose, I’ll note that at least two of his three field goals game in the closing minutes of a close game. Rose managed to seal the win with quality play in the past couple minutes, so there was that.

Of Course, had Derrick not had another abysmal night from the field, then he wouldn’t have had to come through in the clutch. The Bobcats spent all night out working the Bulls, out hustling them, and generally outplaying them. Chicago was given plenty more benefit of the doubt by the officials and shot the ball well enough from downtown to survive for the win.

Rose had two of his three hoops and an assist to Deng in the closing minutes to seal the victory, but he made it quiet clear that he’s still pretty far away. The media at large seems to be looking for nice things to say. Discussing his progress, how he’s reading defenses, how he’s playing defensively, whatever..

It’s a bunch of crap. Derrick Rose is playing like a scrub. The world may not be ending yet, but the Bulls championship hopes are going to go down the toilet quite quickly if things don’t turn around. It’s great that he had a hot shooting night against Indiana, perfect timing. However, we know that performance isn’t sustainable which he proved against the Bobcats.

Derrick Rose doesn’t look dangerous out there. He’s picking up tons of charges against him because he can’t dance around guys in the lane and finish. His mid range jumper has disappeared, his driving game seems far away, and his long range bomb is streaky as always. Derrick Rose just isn’t a star player right now. He’s not even Nate Robinson circa 2012-13 right now.

Bulls fans have nothing left to do but hope he plays his way through it, because there’s no alternative. Right now, it’s ugly like the financial crisis. If it continues we’re screwed, but there’s little we can do but hope for the best.

To counteract that ugliness, I offer Luol Deng

I’ve been driving the Luol Deng is ridiculously overrated bus for awhile now, but over the past three wins he’s helped carry the Bulls. While Derrick Rose came through at the end of the game, Luol Deng came through all game long including knocking down the clutch, pump fake, side step, three pointer with the clock winding down to zero and the Bulls clinging to a one point lead.

Deng effectively sealed the game at the end and was also the primary reason the Bulls weren’t losing by double digits. Luol’s been abysmal beyond the arc this season [though one of two last night] but even with that included, if we pro-rated out his current level of play it might be his best overall season. Perhaps not as good offensively as his third year, but his overall game is much more complete now.

The new offense is really working for Deng as it provides more driving opportunities off the ball. Deng’s seen the benefit in far more shots in the lane and trips to the free throw line. His free throw ratio is the highest its ever been in his career [and 12 more attempts last night didn’t hurt his cause either].

Let’s cross our fingers on Jimmy Butler

Butler was off to a pretty hot start in this game, but he injured his toe and didn’t look comfortable when he returned. Hopefully he didn’t break anything and will recover quickly otherwise the Bulls may be missing Jimmy for awhile. Butler was four of six with 14 points in just 22 minutes of action to go along with five boards and a couple of steals.

Butler hasn’t put up tons of shots for Chicago, but his foul draw rate is ridiculous which helps the Bulls force opponents into penalty situations as well as adding steady, efficient scoring. Beyond his scoring, we all know what Butler brings to the table defensively, and the Bulls will miss him dearly if he’s out.

The Booz cruise is slowing down

Carlos Boozer’s still having his best season for the Bulls, but his astronomical numbers kind of dropped to good numbers, and last night he was playing bad. Derrick Rose bad [too soon?]. His last few performances has dropped his percentages down to where they fall for his career.

A cynic might note that his best games haven’t exactly come when the Bulls needed them as they’ve been in blow outs one way or the other [except for Philly which was close, but Boozer’s damage all came when it looked like a blowout].

I’m still pretty thrilled with what Boozer’s given Chicago, given that he’s Carlos Boozer and expectations are low. It hasn’t been the smoothest of signings, but look no further than Amare Stoudemire or Joe Johnson to see how bad it could have been. I would have taken David Lee over Carlos Boozer, but I can’t honestly tell you the Bulls would be in considerably better shape if they did.

In that sense, while Boozer hasn’t performed as well as fans have hoped, he has at least outperformed most of the other guys in the running for the Bulls 2010 money after the big three were gone.

Bulls are suddenly #3 in the East

After all the consternation of a slow start, the Chicago Bulls are back to #3 in the East. They didn’t play well last night. They looked unfocused, lazy, and generally out of sorts. Yet they still managed to find a way to win the game and that’s what good teams do against bad teams even when they haven’t brought their A game.

I’m not disappointed with the Bulls record at 6-3 right now. It might be at the lower end of my expectations, but I wouldn’t have picked Chicago to do better than 7-2 at this point, so they’re in the ball park. However, the way they’ve gotten here hasn’t been particularly pretty or encouraging.

Perhaps the best news for Chicago is that despite starting off 6-3, it appears they have a ton of room to improve internally and play better. Their superstar still looks awful. Joakim Noah’s start to the season might have been a story line if Derrick Rose hadn’t trumped it by being even worse, and the Bulter/Deng combo spent some time finding their groove together.

The Bulls are clearly still finding their way in their new offensive system, and yet through whatever problems they have, the team has still managed to rack up five straight wins and make it to 6-3. Not bad.


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  • Doug, as a Heat fan, I'm obviously not upset watching Rose's early season struggles, but I'm not foolish enough to believe his poor play will continue. He's only 9 games into this season, and hadn't played in a game in almost 1.5 years. Cut the guy some slack!! In addition, I stopped analying records and early season results a long time ago. If the Bulls are healthy and on a roll going into April, you'll look back and realize how over-reactive and unnecessarily emotional you were back in November.

  • In reply to RichG:

    My sentiments exactly. This is a marathon, not a sprint. I actually see them building. They said , "we're finding different ways to win". Luol on night, Jo on another, Jimmy the next. .. Bottom line is whoever they face,Iit's not Rose and the rest. .. It's The Chicago Bulls.

  • In reply to RichG:

    Eh, I'm not emotional about it. I'm just attempting to state how things are rather than try and pretend everything's awesome and Rose is really doing good, on schedule, or whatever else.

    Yes, I agree there's a very good chance it will be totally irrelevant in a few months.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    I think he's basically going through what he tried to avoid by sitting out last year: being on the court and healthy, but not looking like MVP D-Rose. Grant Hill (who knows a thing or two about coming back from injury) thinks he'll be back to himself by mid-late December. We'll see.

    FWIW, Rose's game score was increasing steadily before taking a step back against CHA. Basically, I don't think he's as good as he was against IND, or as bad as the CHA game. There'll be setbacks like last night, but overall I think we'll see incremental improvement.

  • In reply to Tyler Soze:

    Good point Tyler. And, Doug is doing his job on this blog, which is to inform on day-to-day Bulls news. He can't just tell us all, "hey, Rose sucks now but he'll be fine most likely by April and the Bulls will be a top 4 team in the East most likely so go watch football and reruns of What's Happening for now."

  • It is a positive thing that these Bulls have the talent to re incorporate Rose, install a new system, manage minutes, and still come out on the winning side while clearly not playing their best ball. Enjoy the ride and stop the paranoia.

    We knew that a work in progress isjust that; a work in progress. The character of these Bulls is really strong as well: you have Noah admitting that they have a long way to go. The NBA is no cakewalk and last year I believe the Bobcats defeated both Miami and the Bulls once. They're also hovering around 500 for the season which bodes well for that protected pick coming to fruition.

    The mere fact that Thibs is even playing his rookies spot minutes is hinting change is in the air and they are adapting. Better than us screaming at the same thing time and time again. I am excited they AS A ORGANIZATION have made strides and are still winning. I want these dudes to be Peaking in May and June- notDeDecember.

  • I agree Rose will come around as will the rest of the team!
    The preseason games need to be cut in half!
    Bulls were like 7-0 or 8-0 and then go 1-3 to start the season!
    The Bulls have had the best record for a few seasons, or near the best then other teams shift another gear and blow by the Bulls!
    The Bulls have had a terrible time staying healthy but if they do I still think we can go far! Still wish we had Nate off the bench, or to a lesser degree Jamal Crawford, Ben Gordon (when he was a Bull) to come off the bench and provide volume quick scoring.
    Kirk is not a great player but has a high basketball IQ & has really helped DRose in his early years and now where DRose can play off the ball and attack while Kirk plays QB.

  • Take the long view. Look at the minutes! In the past we've been harsh on Thibs overplaying starters early in the season. Now everyone is averaging right around 30mpg (except Lu, of course, but it's low for him at 36).

    In past Aprils I remember us saying we wish Thibs would play starters less, like Popovich, early in the season. Well that's what he's doing. The cost is going be some close games against not-so-great opponents, and taking losses where in the past we might not have.

    I share concerns about Rose. I hope to see him improve as the season goes on. But I'm encouraged by the minutes. If we don't begin to gel until Jan/Feb. So be it. We couldn't miss the playoffs if we tried, and home court throughout might not be worth chasing.

  • I say lets wait until All-Star break before we dissect Rose and his return from surgery - or at most monthly evaluations, not evaluating him game-by-game. Rose's recovery will be a work-in-progress for some time, maybe even into next season. ....Chill...

  • Rose is morphing into Jannero Pargo. Wrong model, Bulls fans want a Tony Parker type offensive game from Rose. I think he'll get it together and rely less on his streaky 3pt shooting. I think he's just jacking up tons of long jumpers because he's not getting calls at the rim but he has to continue attacking the rim, the calls will eventually come along with the better finishing.

  • Sounds to me like someone wants to resign Deng although it's reay time to move on from him. And Rose will be fine, he's a point guard, he's not suppose to lead the team in scoring anyway. Let the other guys step up and lead the team.

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    In reply to Reese1:

    Rose doesn't play like a PG. Doesn't distribute the ball well; too many TOs. Hinrich is more of the prototypical PG than Rose. I wish Rose had put in some minutes of real game time last year. He wouldn't be going through this adjustment period now. Or, at least, it wouldn't be as prolonged.

  • In reply to Michael Dirmeikis:

    Actually, this is the perfect time for Rose to work through his issues with recovery - training camp, preseason, regular season games and early ones at that. It was truly infantile the arguments fans were making - wishing Rose would return on his repaired ACL and lead the Bulls through the playoffs like a comic-book-superhero or video game.

    Any injury recovery like Rose is enduring is going to be ugly and messy. A stretch run and the playoffs is no time to try that. Fortunately, Rose was smart enough to not take that bait.

  • Starting to think about that Charlotte pick in 2014. Perhaps it's pick 11-15? To do so Charlotte would have to be unlucky in the lottery, and/or better than the following teams:


    I think the above teams plus Charlotte should round out the bottom 11 in the league. Now, some have gotten off to hot starts, but it's early. I don't think Washington is bad enough to be in the bottom 11. Same with New Orleans. I think the Lakers could end up cracking the list depending on injuries. Detroit and Cleveland should be better.

    It's my guess that Charlotte ends up in the better half of this list. I said this before the season, which I thought was a positive in that they would not land an elite franchise changing talent.

    Solid draft, so drafting 11-15 would not be so bad... could allow the Bulls to fill in Deng's spot next year with a better scorer. May also be able to find a backup big late in the first.

  • As far as I'm concerned these wins mean nothing if rose doesn't return to his former self we"ll just be a second round playoff team again and if he's just Rusty this further proves why he should of played last year

  • In reply to cashofb:

    Dude, its the regular season, and the early regular season at that. CHILL.

    This is the perfect time for Rose to work through his issues with recovery - training camp, preseason, regular season games and early ones at that. It's truly infantile the arguments fans were/are making - wishing Rose would return on his repaired ACL and lead the Bulls through the 2013 playoffs like a comic-book-superhero or video game.

    Any injury recovery like Rose is enduring is going to be ugly and messy. A stretch run and the playoffs is no time to try that. Fortunately, Rose was smart enough to not take that bait.

  • I actually was very annoyed with the Bulls lack of fundamental execution and habits...but surprisingly they have quickly improved those. Now the only thing that's left is them becoming acclimated to the offense to the point where they can react more and not think so much - then they're going to be dangerous.

    As for Rose. I'm super excited to see the Bulls winning with him on the court yet not living or dying by whether or not he's having a good game. That is HUGE. I am extremely happy with how he is progressing, low FG% and all...because he's healthy and taking his time. It's going to take awhile for him to not only get all of his old self back, but to also evolve into a new Rose that fits into a more present offensive schema that the Bulls have not really had. That being said that new Rose won't really look like the old Rose all the time and we should all be ok with that because if they do it right then it'll mean he'll finally have a stronger, better team around him and instead of being old Rose for 35 minutes a night maybe we can see flashes of that only web. It's needed or when that's what the defense is giving him.

    Speaking of what the d is giving him. I actually like his shot selection. We shouldn't depend on him all the time for penetration when simple ball movement and cutting can (and should) significantly improve that. Further more, he is playing more cautiously as far as dangerously penetrating too much, which is smart whether you're D Rose coming off an ACL injury or not. Finally, he is definitely paying attention to what defenses are doing and not just to him, but to the team so if he takes a shot because the d is too collapsed to the lane then as long as it's not a stupid or forced shot that's actually smart. If you, notice when he starts hitting then the d will overplay him and he'll use that and drive.

    Another huge improvement is that Rose is used to holding the ball and making something happen - he used to really focus on his defender before and now he has realized that is trying to break the habit and a see where his teammates are - you can notice it if you see his head pop up right when he crosses the half court's like he realizes it and knows he needs to move the ball and immediately get I to the offense. The faster that reaction gets, the quicker we'll start to get into the offense and the less the defense will be ready.

    I'm excited. It's messy, but I see all the right things finally happening that are gonna be required for them to become the champs. If they fix all one in the league can beat them in 7, not even the Heat.

  • Oh and ps. Deng catches so much flack. First of all, he has never been used right and his career definitely suffered from the Bulls bringing in two stupid coaches (Skiles and Vinny). If those were any other coaches with a decent understanding of offense they would've had him looking like an all star long ago.

    No players are perfect...Deng has his flaws, BUT...he also has some unique strengths and I'll take that over quite a lot of perceived other "better" options...because you just have to play to those.

    A few great coaches, players and analysts (ironically including Thibs) have alluded in the past to Deng being a match up nightmare and I have always believed that too. It's kind of obvious if you really know the game of basketball, yet we have never exploited that until now. Actually, there was a short moment last season when a ton of Bulls were injured that Thibs experimented with it and while spotty was working.

    People have complained about a post presence and all that so much, when all we really ever had to do was make our offensive movement more fluid and post Deng more - based on the personnel across the league he either has a size or quickness advantage against a ridiculously large percentage of teams.

    Keep posting him. If they wanna put a smaller player on him or switch - make the D pay.

    If the Bulls continue to do that and he's ok with a lesser resigning salary, then all things considered (especially that he knows Thibs system) we should absolutely resign him.

    His value has so adversely been affected by the strange idiosyncrasies of this team, injuries, too much playing time and coaching...that people don't even see how much sicker he could be if we simply use him better. I saw him tip jam off a rebound last night. That is definitely the byproduct of having more energy. In addition, Kirk is also benefitting from not having to bear too much of the burden.

  • 1) The Bulls have a history of taking out tough teams and making weak teams look like contenders! We've seen that for years. It's not the MJ era. I'm kind of OK with it, provided they drop the habit for the playoffs.
    2) How are the Bulls 6-3 with Rose, Butler, and Noah all playing sub par? That's almost a minor miracle. First, the offensive scheme seems to produce more and better looks. Second, Boozer, Deng, and Taj are playing better than last year (so far).
    3) I see NY wants to trade Schumpert. I wonder if he is in the wrong scheme there or what? Could the Bulls pick up this guy? A Chicago area kid besides. Got any workable trades?

  • In reply to rustyw:

    They're playing better defense than last year is how they're 6-3. Which is also where Rose has hurt the team the most ... they've somehow been about the same offensively with him on and off the court this year, but they've been super elite defensively with him off and only average with him on.

  • My Man! Please chill out. Too early for hysteria of this sort. D-Rose is trying to come back within a team concept. He's not selfishly putting up 25 Shots like a Westbrook. He's thinking team first. Lighten up!

  • Such an ugly game makes it hard to find the motivation to comment on it.

    But I can't help but point out that I believe that there is a clause in the Naismith Rules of the Game that if Josh McRoberts blocks your shot twice in your career you are banned from ever playing in the NBA again. If Josh McRoberts blocks your shot twice in one quarter you need to be taken to the glue factory immediately. I'll leave it to you guys to guess which Bulls player had his shot blocked twice by Josh McRoberts in just the first quarter. But I believe he is the same guy that many people keep claiming should be an allstar power forward in the east.

    By the way that would be the same Josh McRoberts that Noah was forced to guard/chase around the 3 point line for the entire game because our coach is terrified to allow our power forward to actually guard the opposing teams power forward, thus destroying our interior defense and allowing charlotte which couldn't hit the ocean from the deck of an aircraft carrier to conduct a layup drill for much of the night and score nearly half of their points(38) in the paint. But hey that same move did allow our erstwhile power forward to camp out in the lane devoid of any defensive responsibilities and get hit in the head with 17 rebounds. I'm curious does that move him up to the 3rd best rebounder in NBA history behind Wilt and Russell.

    Did anybody else notice that everybody's favorite ex Bull(Ben Gordon) didn't play a single minute last night(he is healthy, well at least physically). I guess Clifford being a desciple of Thibs doesn't have any use for that type of player, you know that kind that can't be bothered to exert any effort except when the ball is in his hands. Think that guy would get any minutes playing for Thibs, so maybe people can stop pining for him, even on an NBA minimum. Yes, it is finally official, Ben Gordon in the final year of his contract turned out be exactly what I said that he would be, before the Bulls wisely let him go, a massively overpaid useless bum.

    Didn't some people nearly castrate the Bulls for not trading for Gordon prior to last season so we could pick up a "guaranteed" Lottery pick(which probably won't be a lottery pick) for the mere cost of the remaining $25 million on his contract, plus the resultant $30-35 million in luxury taxes and the likelihood that we wouldn't have been able to sign Belli, Nate or Dunleavy or anyone else with a pulse. Yea, it really sucks that we were to cheap/stupid to make that move. Seems like signing Nate to a 2 year deal for a total of $2-4 million would have been a slightly better move.

    Well, here's hoping we can make it back from the west coast 3-3, even though we could well lose the first 3 games against teams that we never fair well against out West, Denver, Portland and the new Clips.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    "Seems like signing Nate to a 2 year deal for a total of $2-4 million would have been a slightly better move." What, than taking Gordon for a measly $25 million for the same 2 years? BigWay, you will never become a politician with that kind of tight-fisted thinking. You must think spend, spend, spend. Like the Knicks, for example.

    I still say it's a minor miracle that the Bulls are 6-3. When Rose, Butler, and Noah improve, they should be a much stronger team. But, like you, I wonder What gives? right now.

    What do you think about trading for Shumpert? Would you trade Teague and a pick? I feel he would play well for Thibs, he can D and score.

  • In reply to rustyw:

    The Bulls already have Jimmy Butler who plays the same role Shumpert plays and will need to be paid the same time as him, I don't see the fit. Rather keep the pick.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I agree about BG for 11 mil being a deal the Bulls were right to pass on, but for the minimum, how bad can it be? There are plenty of bigger scrubs out there being paid the minimum. At that price if you keep him on the bench and play him only in desperation times ala Pargo you're getting your money's worth. If he proves himself willing to work and earn more time than that, then it's a bonus.

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    You sound like an idiot. Anyone who actually watched the game and has played the sport organized knows, just because DRose is the star doesn't mean he has to take over and drop 40pts a night for 82 games. You can tell from watching him because he is taking smart shots. He's taking more 3s because he can hit them and teams don't respect that. Once they step up and try to defend the 3 he an beat them off of tw dribble. He's not taking horrible shots, he just has to find his touch. You can't take off a year of playing a professional sport and just pick up where you left off like its a video game. Rose is playing well enough or us to win games, eventually he will be to the point were he can take over a game whenever he wants, but it's not necessary. Deng, Butler and Boozer have proven they can score 20+ points on any given night. So why do these idiotic bandwagon fans act like Rose is the only person on the team that can score? The Bulls are doing fine, and I'm sure we'll be relevant in the post season as well. Don't talk about basketball if you don't know about basketball.

  • In reply to Que Jengie:

    What do you expect?

    You have people who think grabbing a lot of rebounds is a bad thing, people who bitch about the Bulls' defense after a game where they held a team that averages 88.5 points per game and 97.0 pts/100 poss to 81 points and 87.4 pts/100 poss.

    People who think the Bulls can't score unless it's Rose either doing the scoring or getting someone else an easy shot, even though the Bulls offense has been BETTER with Rose on the bench so far this season.

  • In reply to Don Ellis:

    In case you didn't notice you just agreed with a guy who called Doug(whom you apparently have a man crush on(i.e. supposedly love)) an idiot. Attention to detail, not apparently required in Paducahville.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    It's OK, I agree with you sometimes, too.

    And I just called out Doug for making a mistake in this article, it's possible to love someone and disagree with them. Doug's a big boy, I'm sure he can defend himself quite well.

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    In reply to Que Jengie:

    Agree on the popular misconception that Rose is the only scorer. Even Hinrich can score 20 if he's given that responsibility. Rose needs to hone his PG skills and get into the team concept. When the ball moves, the Bulls are awesome.

  • And as much as I love Doug and think he's an awesome writer, I have to point out when he gets something 100% wrong.

    Not only is Rose not "picking up tons of charges against him because he can't dance around guys in the lane and finish", he hadn't picked up even one charge before last night when there were 52 seconds left in the first half.

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