The Chicago Bulls are enjoying a successful preseason thanks to contributions from a few of their core players. The team is a perfect 3-0 with wins over the Indiana Pacers, Memphis Grizzlies and Washington Wizards (in Brazil).
Sadly, we haven't gotten to see Joakim Noah play yet, as he has missed all three contests due to a sore groin. His frontcourt mate Carlos Boozer has played, though, and looked good at times.
And Mike Dunleavy, who the Bulls acquired during the offseason, has shown that he's more than a great shooter; he's also a solid ball-handler and passer.
But who are Chicago's biggest standouts thus far?
You knew Jimmy Butler would make an appearance. When you have a cool nickname like "Jimmy Buckets," you simply can't be left off a list like this.
Butler is struggling, shooting 39.1 percent from the field, including just 14.3 percent from beyond the arc. While his shooting obviously needs to improve, it's his play on the defensive end of the floor that makes him an early preseason standout. He is currently averaging three steals per game, which is absolutely incredible.
Versus the Wizards, Butler demonstrated his all-around skills, producing 11 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals in the 83-81 victory.
He'll continue to play lockdown defense, and his shot will start to fall as the preseason progresses. Look for him to put together a monster 2013-14 campaign, forming an exciting backcourt with Derrick Rose.
Luol Deng is playing well so far, which isn't surprising at all. When doesn't he play well?
One of the league's best two-way players, Deng hasn't disappointed. He is playing his usual top-notch defense while providing solid scoring as well.
He's averaging 14 points in 25 minutes of action. That's impressive, especially since he averaged 16 points last season while logging 38 minutes per game.
While he's only 10-of-31 from the field, he has been extremely aggressive, getting to the line and attempting 28 foul shots.
Deng has played unselfish basketball as well during the preseason, leading the Bulls with 3.3 assists per contest.
This is a contract year for him, so you know he's going to have a strong season. As long as he continues to stay healthy, the Bulls will serve as a title contender and elite ball club.
After Derrick Rose tore his ACL during the 2012 playoffs, some people doubted he would ever be the same.
Then when he decided against returning last season although he was medially cleared to play, many fans believed it was the wrong choice.
Nowadays, nobody has anything negative to say about the former NBA MVP.
Rose has played two preseason games thus far, looking like he never suffered an injury. His speed and quickness is still there and he attacks the basket just like he always has.
His dunk versus the Pacers certainly proved things haven't changed. Yep, that's the same D-Rose, no doubt about it.
Rose sat out against the Wizards due to knee soreness, but nothing too major.
The Brazilian fans were obviously looking forward to seeing Rose on the hardwood, as there were plenty of Bulls No. 1 jerseys. However, it was the right move to sit him and not risk another injury.
Chicago, of course, needs Rose in order to capture a long-awaited title this year.
A Bulls standout list wouldn't be complete without the name Taj Gibson. The former USC star has had the perfect preseason thus far off the bench.
Gibson leads Chicago in scoring (17 points per game), rebounding (8.7), blocks (2.7) as well as field-goal percentage (.700). It's only preseason and not the NBA Finals, but that's still impressive.
He's playing a lot like Kevin Garnett. No not the present-day version, but Prime KG back in his Minnesota Timberwolves days. Gibson is swatting shots, drilling mid-range jumpers and attempting to break every rim in sight with ferocious dunks. He came with a thunderous slam against the Pacers.
Gibson was amazing during that Indiana game, with 18 points, 12 boards and three blocks. He also hit nine of his 12 attempts from the field. Not bad for his first game since last season's playoffs.
In addition, he was stellar versus the Wizards, recording 18 points, eight rebounds and four blocks on 7-of-9 shooting.
Bulls fans are surely hoping that Gibson's play will carry over into the regular season. If it does, he will easily emerge as a top Sixth Man of the Year candidate and possibly steal Carlos Boozer's starting spot. Watch out Booz.