Winners and Losers from Chicago Bulls' Week 3 of NBA Preaseason
Through three weeks of preseason action, the Chicago Bulls remain undefeated at 7-0.
Derrick Rose led the way in Week 3, scoring in bunches and in a variety of ways. Luol Deng was second in scoring and showed off his offensive versatility, putting up at least 20 points in two of three games.
Chicago's defense excelled once again, holding teams to an average of 92.3 points per game.
The Bulls also got back Jimmy Butler who had missed three games with a knee injury.
Week 3 had its downs too, mostly in the health department.
Kirk Hinrich missed the last two games with a concussion, and Joakim Noah was absent from all three contests with a groin strain.
Despite missing some of its key contributors, Chicago stood out among its competitors.
Winner: Mike Dunleavy
With Jimmy Butler out of the lineup for a few games, Dunleavy was able to showcase his well-rounded game.
The marksman had struggled to find the range on his three early on in the preseason, but against the Oklahoma City Thunder, he connected on back-to-back baseline treys.
The 12-year veteran did more than shoot the ball, though. He also exhibited some good rebounding and passing skills.
Against his former Milwaukee Bucks team, he tallied seven boards and five assists along with 12 points.
Dunleavy successfully attacked the rim on separate occasions. He got to the line six times against Milwaukee and was also able to drive by some defenders and finish cleanly.
Chicago has a strong bench, and Dunleavy will play a significant role throughout the regular season.
Loser: Dexter Pittman
As one of three training camp invites, Dexter Pittman made a poor case for winning a roster spot.
Even with Noah's injury troubles and Nazr Mohammed playing minimal minutes, Pittman failed to play during any significant stretches.
He had did not play twice this week and only managed to log minutes in a blowout victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.
Chicago's depth at center is an issue with Noah hurt and Mohammed near the end of his playing career.
Pittman could have won a spot as the third center in the rotation, but a lack of playing time will most likely end up hurting his chances of making the team.
Winner: Carlos Boozer
Carlos Boozer had yet to stand out, but the final two games of the week were a welcome sight to Bulls fans.
The power forward posted back-to-back double-doubles of 16 points and 10 rebounds and 20 points and 14 rebounds, the latter against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
He scored with a variety of crafty post moves and quick spins that left defenders trailing and simply looking at him as he dunked or laid it in.
His mid-range jumper also looked better than it had earlier in October. He was more patient and followed through better.
If the shot wasn't there, he attacked the paint or passed it back out to reset the offense.
Chicago needs Boozer to have a big year if it wants to have a chance at advancing far in the playoffs; the last two games were a good sign that he's headed for one.
Loser: Kirk Hinrich
Hinrich missed two games due to a concussion suffered on Oct. 18 against the Indiana Pacers.
The biggest loss is that the guard missed out on playing time with Thibodeau's different lineups.
Aside from being Rose's backup, Hinrich is also expected to play alongside him as a combo guard, allowing Rose to play off the ball on certain possessions.
The injury probably won't cause him to miss a large number of games, but it did take away from some preparation time against good competition.
Prior to the concussion, the 11-year veteran averaged 8.2 points, making more than half of his threes.
Winner: Luol Deng
Throughout Week 3, Deng averaged 19 points while making five of seven attempts from downtown.
His offense looks to have improved since last season, and while it could partly be credited to Rose's presence, Deng seems like a different player.
He's constantly on the attack, looking to get into the paint and draw contact. Before, he'd be content settling for a mid-to-long-range jump shot.
Deng's contributions in transition have also been a big plus. Whether as finisher or a passer, he made good decisions that often led to a basket or two free throws.
Coming off a poor shooting year in 2012-13, the Duke product could have a bounce-back and possibly a career year from behind the arc.
Loser: Joakim Noah
The injury bug has bit the Bulls center earlier than they'd hoped.
Noah returned last week when Chicago hosted the Detroit Pistons, but complications with a groin injury forced him to miss the following three games.
As one of the best rim protectors and defensive bigs in the league, Noah's absence in a matchup with the defending champions would be a big hit to the Bulls.
Thibodeau said Noah was "deconditioned" and is concerned that his starting center's rehab isn't progressing.
Noah is hopeful he might return soon, but it will be up to the coaching and medical staff. The way it's going, things aren't looking good for the energetic center.
Winner: Derrick Rose
Over his last three games, Rose averaged 27.6 points and six assists on 52 percent shooting.
He scored in a variety of ways: jump shots, drives to the hoop and three-point attempts. His perimeter shooting stood out the most as he made 10 of 20 attempts from downtown.
Many thought it would take him a month or two to get reacclimated to the NBA, but the former MVP seems right at home.
Another noteworthy stat was his free-throw shooting.
He used his strength and explosiveness to get to the line at least 10 times in each of his last three games, converting on 30 of his 34 attempts.
Defensively, he is also doing well.
There were still occasions where he'd get caught on a screen trailing his defender, but his pick-and-roll defense has improved, and he is very solid when he's one-on-one.
It's only the preseason, but Rose could be in line for an MVP-caliber season if he can carry these performances over to the regular season.