The Bulls dropped to 0-3 on the preseason with Friday night’s 105-87 loss to the Pacers in Indianapolis. Here are four takeaways:
One of Jim Boylen’s main offseason mantras drew its first test
The Bulls’ coach liked to use the word “redundancy” when discussing his input towards management’s reshaping of the roster. Too often last season, Boylen felt, the Bulls had to change their game plan or style of play depending on what personnel was available.
This season, with the additions of versatile players like Tomas Satoransky, Thaddeus Young and Coby White, Boylen’s goal was to play the same way no matter which lineup he used.
Boylen’s decision to rest Satoransky, Young, Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Otto Porter Jr. offered the Bulls their first true test. Results proved a mixed bag.
With Wendell Carter Jr., Chandler Hutchison and Shaq Harrison still sidelined by injury, Boylen started Kris Dunn, White, Denzel Valentine, Luke Kornet and Daniel Gafford. Cristiano Felicio and Adam Mokoka were the first two reserves off the bench.
The Bulls wanted to play fast and keep their 3-point attempts high. White, in particular, stood out with his consistently aggressive offensive approach. The rookie finished with 24 points on 10-for-22 shooting and continues to look unfazed by the big stage. He added eight rebounds but failed to record an assist.
But the Bulls shot just 5-for-27 from 3-point range after attempting 38 and 37 in the first two games. Valentine missed four of five and shot 1-for-9 overall, failing to take advantage of his first big opportunity of this preseason.
The guard rotation is basically set
Boylen’s decision to sit Satoransky with other starters and play Dunn again telegraphed intentions to start Satoransky in the regular season alongside LaVine.
But Dunn continued to show why there’s a role for him as a reserve wreaking havoc at the defensive end. Dunn finished with six steals, which was good since he committed seven turnovers. Dunn continues to struggle with his decision-making. His passes seem a split-second slow this preseason.
White is making it virtually impossible to keep him out of the rotation. Over the summer, Boylen talked with his coaching staff about using White roughly 20-24 minutes per game. So look for him to back up LaVine and play off the ball more but still able to push it in transition in the multi-ballhandler system. He and Dunn can play off each other.
Ryan Arcidiacono showed his value
Some fans and league observers expressed surprise when the Bulls re-signed the gritty guard to a three-year, $9 million deal. But Arcidiacono, who only played seven mop-up minutes in Wednesday’s loss to the Pelicans, demonstrated again how he’s the type of player who can sit for several games and then contribute if given minutes.
This doesn’t even take into account Arcidiacono’s strong practice habits.
Arcidiacono scored one basket on a classic, old-fashioned pump fake, spin and scoop in the lane, barely jumping. And he executed one textbook boxout of Domantas Sabonis, who is eight inches taller.
The backup center battle remains legitimate
Assuming Carter is healthy, who backs him up between Kornet and Gafford could be based on the opponent. Both have made impacts in different ways.
Gafford posted nine points, eight rebounds, five steals and two blocks and continued to run the floor like his life depended on it. His defensive presence and energy could be needed on some nights.
Kornet is more offensive-minded but, at 7 foot-1, offers rim protection. He scored on one fadeaway, one-legged jumper in the first quarter that recalled vintage Dirk Nowitzki.