There’s a very good chance that Justin Holiday might be the best player on the court for the Bulls.
Well, at least until a certain left knee is healed come early December.
That’s when the Zach LaVine Experience is tentatively set to be rolled out, and the Bulls can see exactly what they received back in the Jimmy Butler trade.
But until then, sure, Holiday has no problem filling that role and filling the stat sheet.
“I’m very comfortable being relied on,’’ Holiday said. “That’s something I’ve waited for a long time. It’s just when I think about the game, usually when I was trying to make a team, I had to think about myself and how I can do this, but I have to look at how the team is doing and bring that into my mind instead of just worrying about me.’’
That mentality is a big reason why Holiday has emerged as a team leader, as well as their go-to scorer. Even when LaVine is back that leadership is not expected to dwindle, either.
“I’m embracing it for sure and trying to enjoy it,’’ Holiday said. “I’m glad I’m in this role. Like I keep saying doing what’s best for the team and not for myself. I’m enjoying every second of it. I know it’s early, but I hope I can continue to grow and continue to help this team grow and we can do something special this year.
“I knew I was going to be in a leadership role. I knew we had RoLo [Robin Lopez], other guys, so I just wasn’t quite sure where it was going to be or how it was going to come about.
“I knew I was going to be a veteran guy that guys could come to, but I could not say it would be like this.’’
Keeping spot warm?
While very few Bulls players are cemented into a spot as the regular season is set to tip-off, Hoiberg did clear up the idea that Nikola Mirotic is simply keeping his starting job warm for Lauri Markkanen to soon take over.
“Niko has been really, really good,’’ Hoiberg said. “Again, he’s bought into making simple plays. He’s really been solid in making good, simple basketball plays and that’s the reason right now that he’s starting.’’
Hoiberg pointed out that while it could change as the season goes on, there’s also the idea of how Mirotic works with the other starters compared to Markkanen.
As far as Mirotic was concerned, he’s more concerned in making sure he’s on the floor to finish games, and that means continuing to show improved defense.
“I think my defense has been much better,’’ Mirotic, who has added 20-plus pounds of muscle this offseason, said. “I can feel that those guys can’t push me like they used to, especially in the low post.’’
Markkanen got the starting nod in Friday’s preseason finale, but that was because Paul Zipser was sidelined with a sore back.
Hoiberg thought the injury was minor, and just wanted to see how the frontline of Markkanen, Mirotic and Lopez would look together for future reference.
Zipser was expected back in the starting lineup in Toronto on Thursday for the start of the regular season.