Bulls

Schanowski: Rose off to MVP-caliber start

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Schanowski: Rose off to MVP-caliber start

Sunday, Oct. 31, 2010
7:08 PM
By Mark Schanowski
CSNChicago.com

Heres a few observations after watching the first two games of the 82 game NBA marathon for the Bulls. As always, were interested in what you think. Please post your comments in the section below.

1. DERRICK ROSE REALLY DOES WANT TO BE IN THE MVP DISCUSSION

Remember back on Bulls Media Day when Derrick responded to a question about his individual goals for the coming season by saying. Why cant I be the best player in the league? Well, even though its only been two games so far, Rose is playing at an MVP level, averaging 33.5 points and 6.5 assists. Yes, he is shooting more than either he or the coaching staff would prefer, but with Luol Deng and Kyle Korver off to slow starts, the Bulls offense doesnt have the kind of balance we expected. Derrick has been a high-volume shooter by necessity, not by choice, and he singlehandedly rescued the Bulls from an embarrassing home court loss to Detroit, scoring 22 of his career-high matching 39 points in the 2nd half.

Rose worked hard all summer to improve his 3-point shooting, and hes probably the toughest point guard in the league to defend right now.

2. JOAKIM NOAH MIGHT JOIN ROSE IN THIS SEASONS ALL-STAR GAME

Talk about coming out with a vengeance, Joakim Noah has played like a man on a mission through the first two games, averaging 16.5 points and 18 rebounds. I had a discussion with my studio partner, Kendall Gill, about where Noah ranks among the Easts top centers. Kendall says he has Noah number 2 behind Dwight Howard, and Im starting to think hes right. Andrew Bogut and Brook Lopez may be better scorers, and Noahs University of Florida teammate, Al Horford, made the All-Star team as the Easts back-up center last season, but its hard to imagine any of those guys beating out Noah if he continues to play at the pace hes set during the opening week. Thank goodness it looks like Noahs foot problems are in the past thanks to new shoes complete with customized orthotics.

3. TAJ GIBSON STILL A VALUABLE PIECE OF BULLS PUZZLE

When the Bulls signed Carlos Boozer as a free agent this past summer, most people expected Gibson to be relegated to a lightly-used back-up, who might have to play some center to get additional minutes. Well, because of Boozers hand injury, Gibson is still in the starting line-up. He scored 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the season opener at Oklahoma City, and then scored 11 big points in the come-from-behind win over Detroit. Taj is extremely active on the offensive glass, giving the Bulls 2nd chance opportunities, and hes an underrated scorer. Even when Boozer comes back, Gibson will find his niche as an ultra-aggressive frontcourt banger who wont have to worry about the foul problems that sometimes limit his play as a starter.

4. BULLS NEED KYLE KORVER ON THE FLOOR

Maybe Korver is still struggling because of the ankle injury he suffered during the pre-season, but his presence in the line-up forces opposing defenses to alter their approach against the Bulls. When Korver hit that three pointer in the 4th quarter against the Pistons, their entire defensive philosophy seemed to change. All of a sudden, they were paying extra attention to Korver coming off screens, allowing Rose more opportunities to break down his man in half-court sets. And, with more defensive attention on Korver, Rose was also able to get the ball to Gibson and James Johnson for some easy baskets down the stretch. Tom Thibodeau has said repeatedly Korver needs to improve his defense, and the truth is, if he doesnt do a good job on the defensive end, his minutes will be limited. But, the Bulls gave him that 3 year, 15 million dollar contract for his ability to shoot the ball from long range, and space the floor for Rose and Boozer. Thibodeau needs to get Korver as many minutes as possible for the Bulls half-court offense to flourish.

5. SHOOTING GUARD POSITION COULD BE A PROBLEM

Its no secret the Bulls would have loved the chance to sign Joe Johnson in last summers free agent derby, and pair him with Rose. But Atlanta blew everyone out of the water by signing Johnson to a max contract that theyll likely come to regret in the coming years. The Bulls then focused their attention on Orlandos sharp-shooting J.J. Redick, but the Magic chose to match a front-loaded offer sheet that many NBA observers thought would be too rich for their blood given the fact they were already well over the leagues luxury tax threshold. That left the Bulls pursuing down the line free agents like Ronnie Brewer, Keith Bogans and C.J. Watson. All of those players have their strengths, but none is really the ideal compliment to Rose. Bulls management looked into the possibility of acquiring Portlands dynamic shooting guard Rudy Fernandez, but the Blazers wouldnt make the deal for just the Bulls first round draft pick, which figures to be somewhere in the 20s. As a result, the Bulls look like they might be a shooter short right now, but that could change quickly once Korver gets over his ankle issues and Deng starts to heat up.

6. BOOZER CANT GET BACK QUICK ENOUGH

For years, weve been talking about the Bulls lack of a classic low-post scorer, and they addressed that need over the summer by signing Boozer. But until his broken finger heals and he can get comfortable with his new teammates, the Bulls are very much a work in progress. Its crucial they find a way to stack up some wins with five of their next six games at home before the dreaded Circus trip out west. Boozer should provide a lot of options for the Bulls half-court offense, easing the reliance on Rose to create something almost every time down the floor. If you havent watched Carlos much over the years, hes a perfect fit for the Bulls system because of his ability to score in the post, run the high screen and roll with Rose, and also hit the 15 to 17 foot jumper with consistency. Plus, hes averaging double figure rebounds over his career. Carlos, heal up soon. Your teammates REALLY miss you.

So, what do you think of the Bulls 1-1 start? Please post your comments in the section below, or send me an e-mail. Should be an interesting week ahead with home games against Portland and the Knicks, followed by a trip to Boston on Friday. Enjoy the hoops, and well be talking to you on SportsNet Central at 6:30 and 10.

Mark Schanowski hosts our Bulls pre- and postgame studio coverage with 15-year NBA veteran Kendall Gill. You can also watch Mark on SportsNet Central, Sunday through Thursday at 6:30 and 10.

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.