The Good, The Bad, and the Denzel

The Chicago Bulls rallied to beat the Memphis Grizzlies Friday night 110-102 behind superb offensive performances from Zach LaVine and Coby White. It was a brutally frustrating game to watch for 3+ quarters but give the Bulls credit for fighting back and earning their first road win of the year. Down 13 at halftime, the Bulls outscored the Grizz by 21 in the second half and rode the had hands of Zach LaVine and Coby White who were both pretty incredible on the offensive end of the floor. Let’s look at a few takeaways from the game…..

THE GOOD

COBY White continues to impress. The rookie point guard continued to show that he’s ready to score NOW in the NBA and was a huge reason the Bulls climbed back in this game. White scored 21 of his 25 points in the second half on efficient shooting (10/16 FG, 4/8 3PT) to go along with 6 rebounds, 2 assists and ZERO turnovers in 30 minutes. He was simply incredible. In the highlight package below, it’s impressive to see the array of moves and shots he utilized on his way to 25 points. He got to the basket, and was physical around the rim, dropped some floaters, pump fake, side stepped 3’s, and an insane behind the back pass for an easy dunk. His early scoring through 2 games sure does feel reminiscent of a young Ben Gordon earning 6th man of the year as a rookie. The Bulls and their fans have to be thrilled with his early performance. It will be interesting to see if the Raptors try to take the ball out of his hands tonight (therefore forcing Dunn to shoot more)

Zach LaVine bounced back from a subpar game 1. After a lackluster performance on both ends on opening night, Zach was on the attack from the get go and dropped 37 points on an efficient 13/23 FG, 4/8 3PT, and 7/10FT. If Zach can get to the line 10 times a night, there is no reason he cannot average 25+ a night. He also had 3 steals and was more alive active on the defensive end. He still had some horrendous closeouts on d but it was certainly an improvement from game 1. He also had some ferocious dunks in the second half and played well with Coby (getting the Bulls back in this game). The Bulls needed all 37 of his points tonight and it was great to see him bounce back.

Zach was nasty

The BAD

The Bulls defense sucks. I was hopeful the additions of Thad, Sato, and a full year of Otto and WCJ would help stabilize the defense but it has been horrible to watch thus far. The Bulls are giving up open 3’s, failing to get back on transition, and simply getting beat one on one coverage. The bigger concern is that this performance has come against two teams who are expected to be bottom 10 offenses in Charlotte and Memphis. I’m simply unsure of what the defensive schemes are and its obvious the players feel the same.

Boylen’s rotation continues to boggle the mind. For the life of me, I cannot understand why Kris Dunn outplayed Sato in minutes 26 to 22 (or why Gafford hasn’t gotten any run over Kornet in certain situations) Take a look at the comparison of performances. Neither player shot the ball particularly well (Dunn was 3/9 FG, 0-2 3PT, 0FTA and Sato was 2/7 FG, 0-2 3PT, 5/5 FT) but Sato is just obviously a smarter and more complete player than Dunn. Satoransky finished with a +/- of +8 while Dunn was +0. And its not as if Dunn was a menace on defense as Sato finished with more steals as well. He is simply the best option for the Bulls at point guard and its inexcusable for him to play 22 minutes. This tweet below sums it all up.

Lauri had a ROUGH night. After a sizzling start to the season, Lauri struggled to get going. As much as I cannot stand Stacy and Funk, they made a good point early on that Lauri struggles when he settles for 3’s early on. I wish Boylen would run more sets for Lauri early on that don’t result in a deep 3. He not only struggled from the field (4/15 FG, 1/10 3PT), but he was careless with the ball (5 turnovers) and struggled to stay in front of Jaren Jackson Jr. Lauri has a beautiful shot, but at what point do we question if he’s a good 3pt shooter. He’s a scorched earth 2/17 to start this year and has been a career 36% shooter from deep aka AVERAGE AS FUCK. I still have hope that will increase but maybe we should never expect him to be anything but average from deep.

THE DENZEL

Otto Porter’s minutes restriction. OPJ was limited to a strict 24 minutes count (played 21) due to health concerns and the upcoming back 2 back Friday and Saturday night. For some reason the Bulls are being applauded for this by fans and commentators and bloggers alike. Sure, it’s great that the Bulls want to keep an important core player healthy, but they CHOSE to not provide additional depth at the wing this offseason. Chandler Hutchinson, not an NBA player (said in a “Not a Girl” Janet from The Good Place voice) is still hurt and Denzel is thankfully in the doghouse (potentially mistaken for an actual dog) and the Bulls are filling the void at 3 with backup guards. You cannot BOTH rest Otto this heavily this early (when hes healthy) AND provide no backup depth at the wing. DePaul’s finest Max Straus will not solve this issue and this will become a problem much sooner than later.

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