Bulls hope communication issues have been fixed


Bulls hope communication issues have been fixed

Left standing in the rubble of another unexpected disaster, Fred Hoiberg believes he finally saw some signs of life with his team, that they just weren’t satisfied with being on cruise control early in the season.

The overtime loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves prompted strong questions and reactions about an offense that amazingly missed 19 of its last 20 shots in regulation and overtime, but Sunday’s film session showed plenty of miscommunication on the defensive end.

Their pick and roll defense wasn’t just a step slow but completely out of position, as players could be seen having mini-discussions when the Timberwolves were at the foul line.

“Last night, the communication wasn’t there,” Hoiberg said. “We just came out the locker room with low energy. They got their confidence going when that happened they got their rhythm going. They made the plays, we were a step slow.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

In some ways, you wonder if this team isn’t used to communicating for itself, considering the Bulls had five years of Tom Thibodeau bellowing out “Ice!” on every pick-and-roll, and that was a huge point of contention afterwards, the aforementioned lack of communication.

With that said, this team has been so defined by Thibodeau being the voice of it for so many years, the players could just now be developing their own voices as far as holding each other accountable.

“I thought today was a good step in the right direction toward that, for the guys talking to each other,” Hoiberg said. “In the film room I think guys talked some things out and on the practice floor guys competed against each other.

“It was a vocal practice. We didn’t have that last night. We screwed up a couple coverages last night because we didn’t communicate quick enough.”

And with Philadelphia looming, a team that doesn’t quite fit the exact build of a Timberwolves squad considering the Timberwolves are functioning like an actual NBA franchise, but they certainly aren’t in the mold of a title contender like the Oklahoma City Thunder.

[MORE: Another alarming loss leaves Hoiberg in foul mood]

Meaning, if Hoiberg sees early slippage, he won’t hesitate to make quick changes in the first quarter.

“Our defense in the first quarter has been very poor, especially to open up games,” Hoiberg said. “Gotta improve on that.”

Derrick Rose said no matter if it’s seven games in, the time to be alarmed isn’t a few games from now.

“Right now, right now,” he said. “It’s something we can stop, something everyone is aware of. We gotta put a stop to it. We play in a couple days and we get to make up for it.”

Would Wendell Carter Jr. be picked higher if the NBA Draft was today?

Would Wendell Carter Jr. be picked higher if the NBA Draft was today?

According to Bleacher Report, Wendell Carter Jr. would be taken fourth overall by the Memphis Grizzlies if the NBA were to redraft this year’s class based off of Summer League performances.

It may sound like a crazy concept (and it is), but Carter Jr. averaged the second most points, 14.6, through five July games in Las Vegas. He also averaged 9.4 rebounds and shot 55 percent from the field while averaging 28.8 minutes in his glamorous first-stint with Chicago. Those numbers are even more striking if you consider Carter Jr.’s 42.9 percent shooting from behind the three-point line.

Carter Jr., the real seventh overall pick of this year’s NBA Draft, looked like the all-around player the Bulls were hoping to get this offseason. He made his blocking abilities as a center known from the moment he stepped on the court in Summer League.

In their re-draft, Bleacher Report had Chicago using the No. 7 pick on the New York Knicks’ Mitchell Robinson, who was actually taken 36th overall in last month’s Draft.

Robinson, a center, averaged 13 points and 24.8 minutes per game over five Summer League contests. He was the best rebounder on his team with an average of 10.2 in the five games that the Knicks played.

The 20-year-old took the second most shots on the Knicks and had the highest field goal percentage at 67 percent, but Robinson did not have any three-point attempts.  What made his recent production seem even more surprising was the fact that the 7'1'' big man did not play a single minute of college basketball.

But would Robinson fit in the Bulls’ system?

Chicago has taken on an offense-first mentality, so Robinson would not be as great of a fit in the Bulls lineup as Carter Jr., but he would still be an impact player. He can be compared to the Bulls’ current center Robin Lopez, who averaged a similar amount of points per game (11.8 points in 26.4 minutes) last season as Robinson’s Summer League average (13 points in 24.8 minutes). And like Lopez, Robinson will likely be most effective around the basket and in the pick-and-roll.

Robinson would also have to learn the defensive concepts that a veteran like Lopez has mastered over his 10-year career.

Next season, the Bulls will have an exciting scoring trio of Jabari Parker, Lauri Markkanen and Carter Jr. in the frontcourt. And the fact that Carter Jr. is getting so much love in the national spotlight is yet another reason for Bulls fans to be excited about this upcoming season.

Jabari Parker channels his inner Uncle Drew: This game is about getting buckets


Jabari Parker channels his inner Uncle Drew: This game is about getting buckets

The Bulls gave Jabari Parker a two-year, $40 million deal for good reason.

One, the Bulls had the salary cap space to get the deal done and had just about filled out their roster. The money wasn't going to be used elsewhere. Also, the second year of the deal is a team option which gives the Bulls some security should Parker not be able to stay healthy or play up to the standards such a salary commands.

Parker was given that money for multiple reasons. One of those reasons was not for his defense.

But, according to Parker, no one gets paid for their defense.

Speaking on 670 The Score on Wednesday, Parker was asked about whether he felt he had the ability and effort to defend in the NBA, something he hasn't done particularly well in four seasons.

"I just stick to my strengths. Look at everybody in the league. They don’t pay players to play defense," Parker said. "There’s only two people historically that play defense. I’m not going to say I won’t, but to say that’s a weakness is like saying that’s everybody’s weakness. Because I’ve scored 30 and 20 on a lot of guys that say they play defense.

"If you know the game, you also know that everyone’s a pro, right? And you know that certain guys have an average. No matter what you do, they still get that average. They pay people to score the ball, and I would hope that somebody scores the ball on me if they pay them that much. So, I’m not saying that to cop out or nothing. It’s the NBA. We’re professionals. Everybody scores. It’s just about limiting them as much as you can, trying to contain them."

Parker's right in one sense, that players are usually paid for their offensive output. There are also more tangible, easily read statistics on the offensive end than there are defensively. Heck, the Bulls gave $80 million to Zach LaVine and he was the team's worst defender last season.

But then again, defense matters. A whole lot, especially at a time when offenses are better than ever (thus making defenders more valuable). The final four teams in last year's playoffs were ranked 1st, 6th, 9th and LeBron James (29th) in defensive efficiency.

A day after Parker's comments the Celtics gave Marcus Smart a four-year, $52 million contract. He's a career 37 percent shooter and has made 29 percenet of his 3-pointers in four seasons.

So while Parker, a below-average defender, might not be entirely accurate, at least he's owning who he is. And if he scores like he did in Year 3, averaging 20 points before re-tearing his ACL, no one will care how he defends.