First things first, the Chicago Bulls have reportedly picked up fourth-year option in rookie deal Patrick Williams, according to Spotrac’s Keith Smith.
The news is really nothing more than a front desk service (what are they going to do…let the former 4th overall pick walk?), but it at least confirms that this box is officially checked.
Now, about last night…
- Williams – like many of his teammates – faltered in his first preseason action. While he seemed a little more decisive when it came to attacking the edge and driving the pace in transition, he came off the floor with just 5 points and 5 rebounds shooting 2-7. Now, to be fair, Zach LaVine tied for the fewest minutes between starts with just 17. He also finished the night with a team high +7. So should we call it some kind of deeply underwhelming performance? No, but I hope we’ll see him increasingly more involved in the next several matches.
- Let’s also hope that more playing time for Williams leads to more success at edge guarding. The Bulls didn’t look much better in this section as Zion Williamson and the physical Pelicans handily outscored them 62-50 in the paint. Of course, we can’t read too much into a single preseason game where 16 players hit the ground running, but it’s hard not to be concerned about this group’s ability to improve on the defensive end.
- Drum roll, please! I’m not at all happy to announce that the “ugliest appearance award” for… Goran Dragić has won! The 36-year-old Chicago Bulls agent who signed more than his age in 13 minutes on the court. He shot 1-4 from the field and turned the ball over three times. To make matters worse, each spin felt more mind-boggling than the next. As someone who’s meant to provide a steady hand for this young backcourt, as well as score the somewhat important minutes with Lonzo Ball on the sidelines, it’s been a sweaty start to the Bulls tenure.
- Now, I’m more than willing to give Dragic a pass given the circumstances, but I’m not sure what I’d think if it happened again. The guy seemed unplayable against a young, athletic, and struggling New Orleans team, and it makes me wonder how selective Coach Billy Donovan is in terms of how/when Dragic is used throughout the season.
- I want to sit here and complain about Billy Donovan’s rotation, but that’s stupid, right? Obviously, last night’s competition was more about getting everyone’s feet wet than running an actual game plan. So I’ll withhold my unkind comments on the lineup of Dragic, Caruso, Green, DeRozan, and Drummond for now. *chills at the lack of disgust from the gunfire*
- Let Javonte Green manage your workout!
- Javonte Green was the first Bulls player to check in off the bench last night, and it’s easy to see why. His transitional talent, athleticism, and defensive versatility are perfect alongside the three attack-minded All-Stars. Not to mention, he looks like someone who could make real use of Donovan’s new favorite playstyle, which revolves largely around a pentagonal look. Green has always been an energetic off-the-ball mover and a talented cutter, and he showed his teammates against the Pelicans what they needed to do to make this new attack work. Whether it’s Patrick Williams or Zach LaVine, there needs to be a greater focus on hunting cutting fairways and moving with purpose.
- The Bulls and LaVine seem to be taking a smart approach in their preseason minutes:
- Alex Caruso can do it!?
- Caruso called the Bulls for a lackluster defensive effort. Given that this is pre-season, I can’t blame them too much for not getting their feet on the gas, but now is also a good time to establish an identity on both ends. The less you try to work out kinks during these four games, the more problems you’ll have when the real battles begin. The Bulls need to prove to themselves that their defensive structure without the ball can hold up as quickly as possible.