The preseason, and even Thursday’s regular-season opener against Boston, were just a small sample size.
If this latest Bulls project is going to work the defense not only has to get better, but so does the communication.
Not that this comes as a surprise, as multiple players brought up the lack of communication on defense last season, as the Bulls went from atop the league in defensive efficiency on Jan. 1 to finishing 15th by the end of the year. A dramatic three-month drop that would be hard to pull off even if a team tried.
And also a feat that Rajon Rondo doesn’t want to be repeated.
The veteran has already noticed the breakdowns on defense, and will continue getting on his teammates until he sees improvement.
“It’s a work in progress,’’ Rondo said of the defense. “We have a lot to work together to improve on defense. Me personally, I would like our communication to get better. But that’s gonna take time and guys trusting each other. Playing with one another and getting out your comfort zone. Not everybody’s a talker. In the locker room we talk a lot so it shouldn’t be hard to translate on the floor.’’
Rondo wasn’t the only one throwing around the “trust’’ word, either.
“It’s all about trust,’’ veteran Dwyane Wade said about the Bulls defense improving sooner than later. “It’s like with anything, if you don’t know somebody like that, you’re not going to trust them with your life. On the basketball court, you have to trust the guy that’s going to have your back. So defensively a lot of times, a lot of guys go to what they know and that’s, ‘I’m going to guard my man.’ But when you’re playing team basketball, it’s all about helping each other. It’s not about necessarily guarding your own man. It’s not a one on one game.
“So it’s all about building that trust. You do that by getting to know a guy, being in the foxhole with that guy, going through tough moments with him, learning from each other, talking with each other. We’ve built some trust already. But there are more levels we can go to.’’
The Bulls continued to tinker with the roster, as well as address their lack of outside shooting, announcing before the game with the Celtics that they signed guard R.J. Hunter.
Hunter was the first-round pick (28th overall) of Boston back in the 2015 draft and shot .367 from beyond the three-point line in his rookie year.
“It’s something that obviously we feel we’ve got some shooting with this team, but you can never have enough, I’ll say that,’’ coach Fred Hoiberg said. “It’s something where if we can get our playmakers into the paint to be able to spray out to guys that can spread the floor, you know that’s obviously something that can help our team.’’
Hunter will wear No. 31, and brings the Bulls roster to 15.
Now that Wade’s homecoming is official with his first regular-season game played, he still finds himself answering questions about his return to Chicago and how it compares to LeBron James returning to Cleveland.
The latest was did he feel like he needed to break the championship jinx like James did for the Cavs, which made Wade snicker.
“We don’t have a jinx, really,’’ Wade said. “I’m looking at [six championship] banners back there. But for me, I think everyone’s journey and everyone’s story is different.’’