The Bulls suffered an ugly loss on Wednesday night, struggling mightily on both ends of the floor. For a team widely regarded as one of the NBA's worst, this may be one of many this season.
Here are five takeaways from the blowout:
1. Point guard woes. It was a rough night for Kris Dunn, to put it mildly. The second-year guard, who has been largely hyped by Gar Forman and John Paxson since the Jimmy Butler blockbuster, labored offensively against the Mavericks. There's no reason to panic yet, but shooting 1-for-9 isn't exactly a promising sign given how much he floundered on that end of the floor in his rookie campaign. In the course of his 21 minutes, Dunn had only one brief stretch that inspired any hope:
Dennis Smith, who? pic.twitter.com/7PIgyWlgza— Bulls Talk (@NBCSBulls) October 5, 2017
Jerian Grant didn't fare much better, scoring two points on 1-for-4 shooting. Despite what you may see from high-scoring point guards around the league, running the offense isn't all about buckets. So Dunn and Grant combining for 10 assists is at least somewhat encouraging.
Dunn's play will be under a microscope all season long, so the Bulls are hoping it was just plainly an off night, rather than a growing lack of confidence.
2. The Energizer Bobby. Portis' 3-point shot is still a huge question mark, but one can never doubt his energy and passion. His floor game was solid in the Bulls' loss, which is vital to a team built around shooters and youngsters. Portis racked up five boards, two blocks, one steal and one assist in his 19 minutes. His role in Fred Hoiberg's system is still undefined, but with the life he brings to the court, it's not hard to envision him logging solid minutes. Also, this is sick:
3. Woulda, shoulda, coulda? Dennis Smith Jr. can play. If you're in the Bulls Should've Drafted Dennis Smith Jr. Camp, then Wednesday night's game probably stung. The Bulls passed on the point guard from North Carolina State in favor of Arizona's Lauri Markkanen. And while it's not at all fair to leap to judgment without seeing Markkanen get some run, Smith continued his stretch of turning heads. He finished with 14 points on 5-for-9 shooting.
"I love the kid," Hoiberg said of Smith before the game tipped off. "He's got unbelievable athleticism. He's got great pace to his game. He's a great finisher in the paint. Really was intrigued by him in college. The way that he plays the game, he's just such a forceful, downhill player."
Time will tell whether the Bulls whiffed on their possible point guard of the future.
4. Bombs away! The Bulls are going to shoot a lot of 3-pointers, that we're fairly certain of. In attempting to adapt to the "new NBA," Hoiberg is basing his offense on pace and space. It worked on Tuesday as the Bulls went 16-for-35 from deep. Wednesday, however, they shot just 7-for-29. The roster is filled with plenty of guys who want to launch, but not a lot who have proved that they can actually make them at a clip to keep the team competitive. The Bulls were picked to be one of, if not, the worst teams in the NBA. That loss was a clear reminder of that.
5. The defense is going to struggle PT. II. Mercifully, the Bulls didn't surrender 46 points in the first quarter again. But they did struggle on D for the second consecutive night. The Mavs shot 50 percent from the field and 45 percent from deep, putting the game out of reach very early into the second half. Per usual, Justin Holiday was a bright spot on that end of the floor. The others struggled to close on shooters, which showed up in the box score via the Mavs' 18 triples.