10 Things We Learned About Chicago Bulls After Week 1
With Derrick Rose back, they boast championship hopes, but they've stumbled out of the gate to a 1-2 start.
What are 10 things we have learned about the Bulls amid this lackluster beginning?
The Bulls should get pointed in the right direction very soon, but there have undoubtedly been some concerning elements during their initial contests. They seem to still possess some missing ingredients.
The following slides highlight observations from Week 1 while also noting potential areas of need that the Bulls should address.
Carlos Boozer Needs More Touches
Carlos Boozer has been downright impressive through three games.
He's averaging 22.3 points (on a blistering 65.9 percent field-goal percentage) and 8.0 rebounds per outing.
He has been a force in the interior, specifically using his burly body to play big near the rim.
In years past, he has too often settled for his high-arching mid-range jumper. This remains in his repertoire (and rightfully so), but he's also consistently attacking the bucket, generating more high-percentage looks.
Boozer's confidence is apparent, and the Bulls should ride his effective play. They should make a concerted effort to provide the Booze Cruise with more touches.
For instance, in their narrow win over the New York Knicks, Rose chucked up 23 shot attempts, only connecting on seven of them.
Boozer had a mere seven shot attempts, netting five. There's no reason why there should be this discrepancy, especially when Rose is so inaccurate.
Boozer's involvement should be a focal point in the coming days. The Bulls lack scoring options, but Boozer is an offensive producer whose worth the Bulls must maximize.
The Second Unit Is Limited Offensively
The second unit has had some brutal offensive stretches, namely in the second quarter against the Miami Heat. The Heat used the momentum from this period to steamroll their way to a large lead.
The Bulls bench features a couple quality defensive players in Taj Gibson and Kirk Hinrich. However, its offensive weapons are limited, especially considering the fact that newcomer Mike Dunleavy has struggled.
Chicago misses the playmaking abilities of Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli, two members of last year's Bench Mob who departed in the offseason.
For the Bulls' second unit to be sufficient on the offensive end, it'll need a consistent Dunleavy and a more assertive Gibson.
Dunleavy took a step in the right direction during in his most recent appearance against the Philadelphia 76ers. He notched seven points and two assists in just 16 minutes.
Gibson has been stellar, averaging 9.7 PPG and 6.3 RPG in 24.7 minutes per outing. The Bulls will need contributions from him regularly, and he'll occasionally be forced to assert himself when the offense grows stagnant.
Overall, Chicago's bench lacks a proven playmaker or shot creator like Robinson, so it must embody a team-oriented offensive approach. It should work at times, but on other occasions, the need for a spark plug will be distinctly evident.
Jimmy Butler Could Realistically Be All-Defensive First Team
A bright spot amid the Bulls' frustrating beginning has been Jimmy Butler, whose defense is picking up right where it left off last spring.
In the Bulls' opener, Butler suffocated Dwyane Wade, leading to an inefficient night from Wade and five total steals for Butler.
Butler's smothering defense is a constant in Chicago's schemes. He never appears to lose focus, and his top-notch lockdown abilities have become a reliable asset.
Butler is now arguably a better defender than teammate and two-time All-Star Luol Deng. While Deng's services on the defensive end are superb, Butler appears to be at his level if not better, particularly on the ball.
As a result, it's realistic that Butler could find himself on the NBA All-Defensive First Team list at the season's conclusion.
He's definitely emerging as a featured candidate for such recognition.
Joakim Noah Is Healthy but Lacks Rhythm
However, his rhythm, particularly on the offensive end, has been an issue.
He's shooting an abysmal 31.8 percent from the field, which has included some misses from point-blank range. He simply has looked out of sync.
Noah will never be a major weapon offensively, but he's typically capable of at least finishing effectively. This should return in due time.
On the positive side of things, he not only appears healthy, but he's also active defensively. This comes as no surprise. It's the heart and soul of who he is.
He's currently averaging 11.7 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and 1.7 steals per game. These figures should hover in these places throughout 2013-14.
Once Noah finds his flow offensively, then he should regain his all-around form that earned him an All-Star appearance during 2012-13.
Believe It or Not...the Bulls Have Defensive Issues
Butler, Noah and Gibson have supplied solid efforts on the defensive end, but the Bulls have surprisingly had too many defensive breakdowns in their opening games.
Rose, specifically, has looked inept, particularly while guarding rookie Michael Carter-Williams, who torched the 2010-11 MVP for 26 points and 10 assists.
It's no secret that coach Tom Thibodeau preaches defense, so he surely isn't pleased with the fact that the Bulls are currently giving up 98.3 points per game. They only surrendered 92.9 PPG in 2012-13 and 88.2 PPG during 2011-12.
Furthermore, opponents are shooting a scorching 47.0 percent from distance against them.
With Rose returning, Chicago's core not only needs time to develop chemistry on offense, but they also require time to mesh in terms of defensive positioning and communication.
They should soon re-establish themselves as one of the league's best defensive units. It's to be expected with Thibodeau analyzing their every move.
Derrick Rose Is Forcing It
Rose's worrisome first three performances are perplexing after a fairly dominant preseason.
It's clear that the regular season has brought about a new level of intensity, and Rose must make proper adjustments.
Rose has been regularly forcing driving lanes when there's no clear opening. This has led to frequent turnovers or ill-advised shots.
There have even been a handful of moments where Rose appears to be driving to get fouled (rather than searching for a high-percentage look), often looking toward the referee for a "bailout" call.
While there have been occasions when Rose deserved the whistle, he has been out of control more often than not.
Rose would benefit from utilizing more patience, allowing the game to come to him while he slowly finds his old form.
Otherwise, he could continue to suffer through inefficient outings that are unfortunately costing the Bulls.
But at Least D-Rose Is Healthy
The lone positive aspect to Rose's re-emergence is his health.
His athleticism appears to be there, while his timing and rhythm are not. Once his confidence and fluidity fall into place, he should reveal some beastly outputs.
Rose's ability to regain his explosiveness was a featured worry in his comeback. Since his game is driven by his explosion and leaping ability, he needs these physical tools to be an elite player.
He looks fully recovered from his ACL tear, and his quickness is once again a significant strength in his arsenal.
Once his flow and chemistry with teammates reappear, he should be on his way toward his fourth career All-Star appearance.
Luol Deng Is Still Not a Secondary Option
This comes as no surprise, because it has been a Bulls theme for numerous seasons.
It's on display again in 2013-14.
Deng is off to a rough start, averaging just 13.7 PPG on 40.9 percent shooting. This includes an atrocious mark from three-point land: 8.3 percent (1-of-12).
There's no denying that Deng contributes in an array of ways, but he's not a secondary weapon. He can't be relied upon to make plays, and his presence becomes heavily concerning if he can't at least shoot a respectable clip from distance.
We know what to anticipate from Deng at this stage in his career. He's a nice piece, but his time in Chicago could be running short.
Since he's a free agent next summer, the Bulls should consider trading him, especially if they could package him in a deal that lands them a legitimate sidekick to Rose.
Deng will surely have decent games where he's a factor on both ends, but Bulls fans are all too familiar with him disappearing. This inconveniently happened on opening night against the Heat, when he notched just four points (2-of-8) in 29 minutes.
The Bulls Should Soon Explore Trades for a Secondary Scorer
It's too early to sound an alarm about the Bulls' struggles, but it's not too soon to magnify their clear need for another scorer.
Chicago is currently a fairly easy team to defend in the half court, especially when Rose is erratic. While Boozer has productive stretches, Deng, Butler and Noah are limited in their offensive capabilities.
Can Rose carry such a heavy load on the offensive end come the playoffs?
He may be able to take the Bulls to the conference finals, but the likelihood is that they'll need more firepower if they hope to compete with the NBA's marquee squads.
Perhaps the Bulls should inquire about the availability of New Orleans Pelicans guard Eric Gordon. A swap of him for Deng is a potential deal that would seem to contain logic for both parties.
At any rate, the Bulls are in dire need of some offensive punch. The time to target a proven addition in this mold could be sooner rather than later.
The Bulls Should Have Taken Tim Hardaway Jr. over Tony Snell
This couldn't stop scrolling through my head when the Bulls recently battled the New York Knicks.
Tim Hardaway Jr. (the 24th overall selection) netted 10 points and looked comfortable in his given role. He is NBA-ready and can score from deep, mid-range or through using his jumping ability near the rim.
Tony Snell (the 20th overall selection) is a clear project pick who may not be ready for a couple seasons. He only logged time against the Heat because Deng and Butler were in foul trouble, and he struggled during his seven minutes of action.
As a result, it's easy to wonder why the Bulls went for the "mystery" pick when they could've addressed a need with an offensive-minded guard.
There's no need to give up on Snell, but Hardaway Jr. would've been a better fit for this year's Bulls.
Plus, since Chicago has an open title window right now, it's only natural to question why the Bulls snagged a guy who's years away from his potential.
Haddon Anderson is a Chicago Bulls Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Connect with him on Twitter here.
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