Winners and Losers from Week 1 of Chicago Bulls' Preseason
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The Chicago Bulls' first week of preseason action yielded some positive results.
Chicago got off to a 2-0 start, and just as there were a couple of standouts, others failed to put forth hopeful performances.
Derrick Rose was the biggest story going into the first batch of games, as he has been for the 2013 preseason opener since April of 2012.
Rookies Tony Snell and Erik Murphy played consistent minutes, but neither had good shooting nights and combined for just one three-pointer.
Despite looking a bit rusty, the Bulls are off to a good start and should only improve as the preseason moves forward.
So, after the first week of preseason games, what players shined bright and who came up short for the Bulls?
Let's take a look.
Loser: Dexter Pittman
Pittman could make the team, but he hasn't gotten much of a chance.
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With no Joakim Noah in the Bulls' first two games, Dexter Pittman's chance to make the roster increased, as he could have potentially seen the floor for extended time.
Pittman saw his first action against the Memphis Grizzlies, scoring four points and snatching four rebounds in under five minutes.
While his numbers looked good, it's worth noting that he was also playing against backups and invites to training camp.
With Noah set to make his return for the Bulls' scheduled game in Rio de Janeiro, Pittman's opportunity to showcase his skills may have come to an end.
Winner: Luol Deng
Deng's aggressiveness is a pleasant surprise.
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In the Bulls' first two preseason contests, Deng went to the free-throw line 16 times. He has showed a new style of play, at least for him, of attacking the rim consistently and drawing contact.
If Deng can keep playing like that, Chicago won't have to rely on just Derrick Rose to take defenders off the dribble. It will also improve the Bulls' free-throw shooting after they had ranked 19th in attempts last season.
While Deng's jump shot hasn't been very good (7-for-24), he has shot 50 percent on his three-pointers, which could bode well for Chicago's offense, as it tries to stretch defenses to give Rose some lanes to the basket.
Deng has shot 42 percent or worse the last two seasons, but the two seasons before that, his shooting percentage was over 46.
Once the cobwebs are shaken off, Deng could be in for one of his better seasons.
Loser: Tony Snell
The Bulls' rookie is struggling to find his shot.
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Tony Snell was drafted so the Bulls could improve their perimeter shooting, but he's had trouble finding the range.
He made just one shot in eight attempts and missed his two three-point attempts, with both coming in the first game.
It wouldn't be a big deal—he is a rookie after all—but some of his misses have been way off the mark, whether it was an air ball or a shot that rocketed off the backboard.
The plus for Snell is that he's getting plenty of time to get acclimated to the professional level, playing around 39 minutes across both games.
It's going to be a long year for the Bulls' first-round pick.
If he wants to avoid sitting on the bench for his entire rookie season, he'll have to improve his scoring output going forward.
Winner: Taj Gibson
Gibson's improvement has been very clear.
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Has any Bulls player improved more than Taj Gibson?
Gibson averaged 16.5 points and nine rebounds in Chicago's first two games with his improvements on offense having been the most significant.
The fifth-year veteran is boasting a much-smoother jump shot from both the baseline and from 16 to 17 feet out.
During Chicago's opener versus the Indiana Pacers, Gibson had a nice post move in which he faked left, spun to the baseline and finished with his left hand.
Gibson has also attacked the offensive glass more, totaling seven offensive rebounds.
There have been many instances in which the Bulls used Gibson as a center alongside Carlos Boozer or Erik Murphy. With Nazr Mohammed as the lone backup center, coach Tom Thibodeau could be showing his plans for the rotation at the 5.
Even though two games is a small sample, Gibson could be in line to have his most effective season as a Bull.
Loser: Marquis Teague
Marquis Teague has been non-existent thus far.
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The second-year point guard showed some great flashes during Summer League play and was in line to have a slightly expanded role as a backup to Rose.
However, Marquis Teague has played just under 13 minutes, seeing significantly less time than current rookies Tony Snell and Erik Murphy.
Teague's totals aren't particularly bad, though. Seven points and three assists in 13 minutes would produce a solid stat line over a full game.
The downside is that he's done it in the fourth quarter of each game, when the starters and even some of the regular backups are no longer on the court.
It hasn't been a very hopeful start to the preseason for the young guard. If the situation persists, Teague could wind up spending his sophomore season on the bench again.
Winner: Derrick Rose
Derrick Rose hasn't missed a beat.
Finally making his return nearly 18 months after suffering an ACL injury, the Bulls' former No. 1 overall pick put on a promising performance.
Derrick Rose scored 13 points and dished out three assists in each of Chicago's first two preseason games. More importantly, though, he looked as fast and explosive as ever.
He finished pretty well around the rim and was able to put back one of his own misses on one occasion. Rose is again attacking on a consistent basis and showing no hesitation. That is evidenced by the fact that he has gotten to the foul line 15 times over the course of two games.
His highlight play was perhaps a fast break against Memphis, where he dribbled behind his back at half court and raced to finish at the rim while drawing the foul.
It wasn't all perfect, though.
There is a lot of rust for Rose to shake off, especially on his jump shot. So far, Rose has shot 8-for-20, but he did make his only three-point attempt in which he was wide open.
His timing has also been a bit off. That was particularly clear on an errant pass to a curling Luol Deng, which ended up out of bounds.
Getting acclimated again will take Rose some time, maybe even beyond the preseason, but seeing him run the fast break and attack effectively is a great sign.