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Discussion Starter #1
Pre-season game #1 vs. Bucks.

Summary:

- Ugly first half shooting wise, but the spacing still looked pretty good and tons of open looks that didn't fall

- Much better second half, team scored 68 points in Q3 and Q4 alone!

- Hoiberg's offense looks waayyyy different from what we're accustomed to seeing under Thibodeau. It almost looks like Hoiberg's goal is to get all 5 players touching the ball every position. Everybody is moving, everyone is spaced, the ball moves quickly. I like it!

- McDermott scored 21 second half points -- great to see him play like he's at Creighton again. Money from 3, and supplemented well with his drives. Physically he looks great. Gained some much need strength and moved well. I don't want him starting though, he should be our instant offense guy off the bench, he could thrive in that role. Either way Hoiberg's system looks like a custom fit for McD, and Hoiberg is going to let him play through mistakes.

- Solid games from Butler, Mirotic. Mirotic needs to be our starting 4, I don't care what anyone says.

- Bobby Portis is awesome! He will definitely be a fan favorite in Chicago. Missed a ton of layups but that is OK for a rookie playing his first game. He was active and rebounded like a fiend.
 

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I was surprisingly excited about actual basketball being played, even if it was just the preseason.

It was nice to see McBuckets get going... I understand what @yodurk is saying about bringing him off the bench, and maybe that is his best role, but I think my fondness/hope for McDermott is clouding my judgment. I'd like to see him get 30 minutes a night, see what we've got. I'd be alright starting Snell and playing him Keith Bogans minutes.

No Pau for us in this one... that remains the big question line-up wise for me. I'd like to start Taj and Pau and bring Mirotic/Noah off the bench, I think.

We looked a lot better against the Bucks second unit, which is to be expected (their length is absurd)... should be a fun rivalry this year, particularly when they get Jabari Parker back.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I agree Dornado, I loved watching basketball again, it feels like forever.

I really think it's going to be hard to keep Mirotic out the starting lineup. I watched the whole game and honestly felt he didn't play very well but then I looked at the box score and he's got 18 pts, 8 reb, 3 assists in only 24 minutes. This guy produces even on his off nights and frankly I think he's way ahead of Gibson and Noah on the productivity chart these days. He's also a custom fit for Hoiberg's system. I'm one of the few who thinks Mirotic/Gasol starting would be just fine, but if it came down to not liking that pairing, I'd go Mirotic/Noah over Gibson/Gasol. That's just me.

I agree on high hopes for McDermott and certainly want him to grow into a starter's role. Just the reality of THIS season is, a) I think McD just needs to find a niche first and foremost as a shooter/scorer and he'll find that is far easier in a 6th man role playing 25 min/game (more of a walk before you run); and b) we're going to have plenty of offense in our starting lineup with Derrick, Jimmy, and Pau (maybe Mirotic too), that I'd rather go with Snell as a more athletic defender, spot-up shooter, passer type. Snell also has an extra year on Doug and experience is important for your starters. That being said, Doug will and should play plenty of minutes. I think he'll get more feature scoring opportunities off the bench as well playing against 2nd units. I also think he'll have plenty of time to earn that starting spot next season and beyond.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
So glad McDermott put in the time at the weight room this summer. It shows...he looks far stronger physically. He's not a guy who has a height, size, or length advantage at SF like a Mike Dunleavy/Luol Deng, nor the athleticism like a Butler/Snell type. So pretty much all he can do is get strong and stay strong, and use strength as his one physical advantage on the wing. Kind of like a Paul Pierce or Ron Artest, neither of which were big time athletes in their prime nor excessively big/long on the perimeter.
 

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I agree Dornado, I loved watching basketball again, it feels like forever.

I really think it's going to be hard to keep Mirotic out the starting lineup. I watched the whole game and honestly felt he didn't play very well but then I looked at the box score and he's got 18 pts, 8 reb, 3 assists in only 24 minutes. This guy produces even on his off nights and frankly I think he's way ahead of Gibson and Noah on the productivity chart these days. He's also a custom fit for Hoiberg's system. I'm one of the few who thinks Mirotic/Gasol starting would be just fine, but if it came down to not liking that pairing, I'd go Mirotic/Noah over Gibson/Gasol. That's just me.
I just can't imagine a scenario where a guy who produced like Pau did last year and then again in Eurobasket this summer is coming off the bench. I'd be totally shocked.

Pau has said he wants to play fewer minutes this year, and I think Hoiberg will oblige, but there still is no good answer to the starting lineup other than Noah and Pau magically playing better together.

I think Niko would be just fine for another year as a 6th-man type player.

Increasingly, I wonder whether the Bulls let Noah walk this offseason, just to create an opportunity for the Portis/Niko backcourt to exist 2 years from now.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Game 2 summary:

- Nuggets really brought their game. They played hard like it was a regular season game. They really shot the ball well and defended well. Bulls weren't ready for that.

- Mirotic played well, and most everyone else played bad. The new offense continued to create good looks but everyone shot like crap, just like the 1st half against the Bucks.

- Jimmy looked really good with the ball in his hands. He didn't shoot the ball well but I liked everything else.

- McDermott played decent, albeit alot of his scoring was blowout garbage time points. I was more impressed with his one on one defense on several occasions; that was surprising.

- Bulls could've stayed in this if they didn't have such a putrid 2nd quarter. The Nuggets had about 16 points unanswered and they just never recovered.

- Mudiay is gonna be a player and only 19 years old. Great pick for the Nuggets.

- Who the heck is this Joffrey Lauvergne guy on the Nuggets? He looked tremendously good, and before you say it was just the Bulls, he also put up big double-doubles in his previous 2 pre-season games. Looks like the Nuggets might have a 2nd round steal on their hands.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
I just can't imagine a scenario where a guy who produced like Pau did last year and then again in Eurobasket this summer is coming off the bench. I'd be totally shocked.

Pau has said he wants to play fewer minutes this year, and I think Hoiberg will oblige, but there still is no good answer to the starting lineup other than Noah and Pau magically playing better together.

I think Niko would be just fine for another year as a 6th-man type player.

Increasingly, I wonder whether the Bulls let Noah walk this offseason, just to create an opportunity for the Portis/Niko backcourt to exist 2 years from now.
Not disagreeing really -- I think Pau should start, and I'd probably agree with Niko as 6th man IF Noah or Taj were playing well. Based on 2 preseason games though I'm not getting a warm fuzzy Noah will be back to his old self. And there is already concern on Noah/Pau's ability to fit together. As for Taj, he is coming off ankle surgery. Because of that Taj is already behind the curve learning Hoiberg's system and is facing an uphill battle to beat out Niko. That makes him an unknown somewhat for this season and not sure how I could pencil in an unknown, esp. for a guy who has never even been a starter before. I have other concerns about Taj as well related to his court vision/black hole syndrome that doesn't mesh very well with what Hoiberg is trying to do. Add this up and I'd much prefer to see Taj off the bench. So if it's not Noah or Taj, that really only leaves Mirotic.

I think too much emphasis is being placed on balancing the offense/defense pairings. Seems alot of fans are freaked out about Pau & Niko playing together, as if they are both putrid defensively and that will hurt us. For starters I don't think Niko is nearly as bad defensively as people make him out to be. He is very mobile and long, I've seen him make good defensively plays. Offensively there is no doubt in my mind Pau & Niko fit; they can both play inside/out making them hard to defend. I think you give them the starting gig together and gladly take the great offense they'll provide. I think their defense won't be as bad as people assume, and in situations where it is, you bring in Noah or Taj off the bench to give the D a boost.

Rose, Butler, Snell, Mirotic, Gasol
Brooks, Moore, McDermott, Gibson, Noah
3rd string/IR: Hinrich, Dunleavy, Portis, Crawford, Felicio, Bairstow (not sure who gets cut from here)
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Game 3 summary (didn't watch it, based on highlights & box score):

- Bulls shot the ball very well overall.

- McDermott just continues to look like a totally different player from last year. Shot the ball great, put the ball on the deck, even passed it well.

- Snell catching some flack, but it really comes down to he's rushing his shot and has just been cold from 3-pt land. His all-around game has been fine for what he needs to be. If he slows down on those shots, he'd hit a few of those and we'd be saying he is playing well.

- Nice to have Gasol back, his low-post presence helps a ton with spacing.

- Bobby Portis has looked awesome in 3 games so far. He's done a bunch of good things: rebounding, contesting shots, running the floor, hitting 18-20 footers, even passing and putting the ball on the floor. Just great energy. He looks like our eventual Noah replacement, IMO, as I believed was the case the moment we drafted him. Only thing he hasn't done well is finishing at the rim as he's a below the rim big man, but that should get better in time. He is only 20 years old. The kid is going to make either Taj or Noah expendable before too long as we don't really need 5 rotation quality big men, and could really stand to upgrade our 2nd string backcourt in a trade.
 

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Phew, that defense last night was no bueno.

I am in love with Bobby Portis.

I loathe Cameron Bairstow, but he won't actually see real minutes in the regular season, so I'm not sweating it.

Nice to see Tony have a good game, but I think it's going to be a process to get his confidence where it needs to be.

I think Dougie McBuckets is the starting 3 at this point, though Fred seems to want to use him off the bench as scoring punch. I think you'd want his shooting to open things up for Derrick & Jimmy, but some of those considerations would also depend on your frontcourt rotation.

Anthony Davis is not human.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I second the Portis love...my gosh, how did this guy drop to #21 in the draft? And he's supposed to be a 20-yr old rookie? Granted pre-season games can mean nothing, but still...

Regarding defense, don't get me wrong I don't think we'll be a Thibs levels consistently, however I think we'll be way better than what they showed here. This was a personnel issue -- no Noah, no Taj were the big factors. Niko got into foul trouble early on Davis. And Gasol just wasn't even trying, he knows the circumstances. Defense is such an effort thing, without Thibs here hounding our guys constantly it just won't be there ALL the time. What I do hope/expect is our D will step it up in key moments and on the biggest stage when needed.

I'm cool with McDermott off the bench for now, as long as he's getting 25+ min/game. I agree Derrick/Jimmy need spacing, but I'm not sure if McDermott has truly mastered catch and shoot yet like a Korver type. Seems more like a guy accustomed to working with the ball in his hands (compared to Korver). He can do more of that as a 6th man type.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Looks like my wish is coming true on the starting lineup... ;)

http://basketball.realgm.com/wiretap/239585/Joakim-Noah-Likely-To-Start-Season-Coming-Off-Bench

The Chicago Bulls are leaning towards starting Nikola Mirotic and Pau Gasol with Joakim Noah coming off the bench.
(starters) Rose, Butler, Snell, Mirotic, Gasol
(bench) Brooks, Moore, McDermott, Taj, Noah, Hinrich, Portis

However I also got the impression that Fred was planning to start Dunleavy at SF before he went down. At this point who knows, Dunleavy will be out for a while yet. But Fred did say he likes McDermott off the bench, and letting Snell take the tougher wing assignment defensively to let Jimmy bear the scoring load more.
 

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Pretty crazy that Fred has the stones to bring Jo off the bench. I'm glad to see his does. Something's gotta give in that front court lineup, and just trotting out both Jo and Pau together if it continues to not work well isn't the answer, even if independently both Jo and Pau would be consensus starters given their resumes.

And ooh boy, is Q1 defense going to be interesting with that frontcourt pairing.
 

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I gotta be honest the idea of niko and pau starting tells me the bulls defense will be bad this season.

thibs could cover 1 abysmal defender whether it was ben Gordon or pau or boozer ...but rose took a step back defensively , jimmy took a step back to focus more on his offense and now he got paid I expect it to come back MDJ is passable but hurt and McDermott until proven otherwise is bad, mirotic is ok and should improve and gasol may be the worst defender on the team.

they went after gasol last season it only figures to be worse after another year in the age column and playing year round and Nicola is decent but not good enough to make up for it , if they had to start gasol I would have felt better about either taj or noah alongside him.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Fred needs (needed?) to make a good sell job to Noah. It's extra difficult with Noah entering a contract year too. Noah has alot of pride, this might not be easy for him. But he's lying to himself if he think he's playing like a starting caliber player. He is still rotation quality and worth 20 minutes a night, but his offense which was never great anyways has regressed, and he's not an all-NBA defender either anymore it seems. Even this version of Noah I like as a backup C, so hopefully we can keep him around and maybe even re-sign him next summer on a good contract commensurate with quality backup centers. But if he's wanting to start and get paid like a starter, he's as good as gone next year unfortunately.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I gotta be honest the idea of niko and pau starting tells me the bulls defense will be bad this season.

thibs could cover 1 abysmal defender whether it was ben Gordon or pau or boozer ...but rose took a step back defensively , jimmy took a step back to focus more on his offense and now he got paid I expect it to come back MDJ is passable but hurt and McDermott until proven otherwise is bad, mirotic is ok and should improve and gasol may be the worst defender on the team.

they went after gasol last season it only figures to be worse after another year in the age column and playing year round and Nicola is decent but not good enough to make up for it , if they had to start gasol I would have felt better about either taj or noah alongside him.
I don't understand this myth of Niko Mirotic being some horrendous defender. He is not a lockdown defender or anything, but he has some physical advantages that he uses. He always plays hard, yes even on defense. His big drawback is his lack of strength down low where he can get outmuscled by some opposing bigs, and I was disappointed he didn't appear to put on any noticeable muscle/weight this off-season. However he does a good job moving his feet on the perimeter and on switches, and has good length to contest shots near the rim. Like all 2nd year players his defensive awareness will surely only get better in time too.

Gasol, I understand the concern...he does not have good feet defensively and rotates very slow. He can block shots & defend the low block decently enough if in good position, but when out of position he's a turnstile for opposing players. (still better than Boozer though due to his length)

Keep in mind too, just because Niko & Gasol start together doesn't mean they will play tons of minutes together. Fred said something about alot of mixing & matching. The Bulls have a deep rotation of bigs, so you'll see tons of Taj/Gasol, Taj/Noah, Niko/Noah, and Niko/Taj lineups as well. Fred I suspect will take more of an adaptive strategy each game where he lets the game dictate who he runs out there. Whereas Thibodeau had a pre-game strategy and didn't seem to like making extreme in-game adjustments.
 

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I said mirotic is was a decent defender ...just not good enough to make up for gasol's bad defense which should only get worse with time

Last season Noah wasn't good enough to make up for it and hopefully his being healthier this season would make a difference or taj

Even the best projections of nikola's defense don't have him ever being a rim protector or some whirling defensive dervish capable of constantly cleaning up the failures of others
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Great way to end the preseason!

- Rose got to play some minutes. He looked very good in the limited PT. Very fast/explosive.

- McDermott game winner. Cool to see him do that in front of a crowd clearly pulling for him specifically.

- Snell, nice game. He is getting more comfortable with the system from what I can see. He had a bad defensive lapse at the end (John Jenkins' potential game winner) but as long as he learns from these mistakes, I'm good working out those flaws in preseason.

- Taj Gibson looks terrific. He is definitely healthy again.

- Noah looks good off the bench -- that's the right call.
 
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