Bulls

Hoiberg shows Bulls difference in energy, pace in film session

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Hoiberg shows Bulls difference in energy, pace in film session

The difference in energy for the Chicago Bulls from the first quarter to the fourth on Saturday was as easily identifiable for Fred Hoiberg as it was the United Center crowd who witnessed the Bulls receive their wake-up call in the nick of time in their 98-94 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

He made sure to show the contrast in Sunday’s film session, hoping the message would translate to the starters.

“It was good. We showed some examples of some really good plays, some really good ball movement, some really good pace,” Hoiberg said. “And we also showed when it wasn’t so pretty, especially in that first half and beginning of the third. Hopefully we learn from that. It was a good session.”

[MORE: Noah's, Brooks' energy spark Bulls in come-from-behind win]

Joakim Noah’s ability to push the ball up the floor, set screens and initiate dribble handoffs as well as his overall relentless activity was a huge key to the Bulls’ fourth-quarter intensity.

Hoiberg is resisting the urge of re-inserting Noah back into the starting lineup, although many will remember Noah was slated to start in Philadelphia on Nov. 9 before his knee began acting up, resulting in his only missed game so far this season.

“We always talk about those things. But again, with that second group, he’s really developed a nice chemistry with those guys,” Hoiberg said. “I’ve liked the dynamic of that second group. I’m getting JO in there pretty early. I think it was the 6 or 7 minute mark yesterday. And that picks up our energy.”

What Hoiberg couldn’t explain is the standing around done by the first unit, the group that doesn’t seem to fully believe in Hoiberg’s system. Yes, Derrick Rose gets the ball up the court in three seconds per Hoiberg’s request but everything else is a struggle.

“That’s a good question. The big thing is just continue to put them in those situations,” Hoiberg said. “That’s what we worked on in practice today. You just hope it carries over. That second group is seeing the success they’ve had because of those situations and now they’re doing it more often because they trust it.

“We gotta get everybody out there doing that. And I’ll say this: Joakim has done a great job the last couple games going into dribble handoffs and flashing to the ball at the right time and getting some good action going on out there.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

Hoiberg was practically giddy at the sight of the second unit putting it altogether, for one of the few times he could see his vision come to fruition. Aaron Brooks scored 15 of his 17 in the fourth, and chalks it up to familiarity.

“We know each other. It’s good to have Niko back, he spaces it out a little bit,” Brooks said. “We just come in and play hard, and guys are hungry and fighting for backup minutes so it brings an extra intensity.

“You wanna come in and be a spark off the bench. Sometimes the starters got it going and the bench doesn’t. I don’t think it’s anything, you just wanna change the rhythm of the game. Just go out there and play your game, I don’t know. I don’t think it’s anything in particular, as far as seeing something different.”

Draft night highlighted the unfulfilling feeling of this past Bulls season

Draft night highlighted the unfulfilling feeling of this past Bulls season

The door has officially been closed on the 2017-18 season for the Chicago Bulls, and the word that most comes to mind is “unfulfilling.”

Or maybe even “indistinguishable.”

Draft night was supposed to be a culmination of a painful seven-month stretch that only had occasional yet costly moments of light.

Death lineup? Meet Death March. And Death April, while we’re at it.

The Bulls brass sold everyone on a full rebuild after trading Jimmy Butler one year ago, with an unspoken promise that this draft would bear franchise-changing fruit—hence the general feeling of angst or even indifference with the solid selection of Wendell Carter Jr. and their not-so-secret affection of Chandler Hutchison.

It was why fans believe the Bulls got cold feet about trading to move up, and why they believe the Bulls weren’t being pragmatic in staying away from Michael Porter Jr.

Porter, some believe, has star written all over him given his prep ranking this time last year and the Bulls were in position to speed up this process without having to go into a painful Process.

They were desperate for a star, believing the tankathon had produced so much suffering it had to be something on the back end.

There was the fight (or the punch).

The aftermath.

The miserable 3-20 start.

The 14-7 streak that produced the audacity of hope.

The reality that 14-7 was damaging enough to the lottery chances that a 3-11 finish couldn’t rectify.

And finally, the coin flip that cost them five spots in the lottery one month ago.

So that empty feeling has less to do with Carter and Hutchison, who’ve done nothing to earn the “blah” reaction from the fan base and some media. It has everything to do with the unanswered questions over the last 82 games and lack of clarity over the three hauls from draft night last year.

It’s not that Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn underperformed individually last season, but the lack of cohesiveness due to injuries and circumstances has led to the varying thoughts.

LaVine is approaching restricted free agency and by all accounts is taking his continuing rehab in Washington very seriously.  Markkanen has added plenty of muscle since the offseason began, appearing as if he can play Michael B. Jordan’s in-ring foil in the next installation of “Creed” as Ivan Drago’s long lost son.

And despite the report about Dunn not working as hard on the floor this offseason, that would be more of a concern if this were late August, not June.

The last time they were seen together on the floor, they looked no closer to a pecking order than the day they arrived.

What we know is that they’re productive NBA players, capable of putting an individual tattoo on a game at a moment’s notice, skillful enough to take your breath away.

And for whatever reason, the expectations changed once the three displayed they could be dynamic on their own—a star needed to be anointed and groomed to go with the star they believed was coming their way after the season.

Management is fully behind Markkanen, but Paxson’s strong words about LaVine at the season-ending news conference illustrated how much it feels LaVine has to prove next season.

With his restricted free agency status looming, the Bulls’ initial offer will show how much they value him until and if he gets a better deal on the market.

And the fact the Bulls weren’t afraid to draft Trae Young while having a healthy debate about Collin Sexton on draft night has to show they have at least some skepticism about the future at point guard.

But stars—developing stars, acquired stars, drafted stars—have to do it on their own. No amount of promotion or prodding from management will validate their faith, if that’s the route the Bulls choose to go.

This has to be a meritocracy or it won’t work and, honestly, it’s time for a reality check.

All the worry about the Bulls getting back to title contention sooner rather than later seems like folks getting ahead of themselves.

The front office has taken its share of shots from media and fans, so some questioning is earned but they’re right about one thing. Rebuilds aren’t completed in a day or 12 months.

Expecting some magic potion to arrive in the form of a top draft pick isn’t going to cure what ills this roster, and it doesn’t seem likely all the cap space will result in a free agent choosing the Bulls over the usual suspects.

However, methodical building can look like complacency if not done with a sense of urgency.

And with urgency in mind, this past season was unsatisfying to say the least—heading into the next phase with two more young pieces to develop while the first three are still in the evaluation stage.

Loyola's March Madness hero Donte Ingram will play with Bulls' Summer League team

Loyola's March Madness hero Donte Ingram will play with Bulls' Summer League team

Donte Ingram's 2018 keeps getting better and better.

The March Madness hero, who buried a game-winning 3-pointer in the first round of Loyola's win over Miami, will play on the Bulls' Summer League team.

Ingram, a Simeon Academy graduate, had himself an incredible senior season with the Ramblers, who advanced all the way to the Final Four as a No. 11 seed.

In five NCAA Tournament games Ingram averaged 7.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists for the Ramblers. He also had 18 points in the MVC Conference Championship Game to secure the Ramblers' March Madness berth.

He'll join first-round draft picks Wendell Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison on the Las Vegas Summer League team, which will begin play early next month.