Coach Fred Hoiberg’s voice sounds different when discussing backup point guard Kay Felder.
You sense his excitement.
He employs terms such as “plays downhill,’’ and “creates his own shot.’’
All are buzzwords for how he wants a point guard to play.
So with most of the Bulls’ starting positions still up for grabs, the question must be asked: Can Felder emerge as the starting point guard over Jerian Grant and Kris Dunn?
Whoa, hit the brakes.
“I’ve liked Felder off the bench [the first three games],’’ Hoiberg said Wednesday. “The thing he’s done early is develop a nice chemistry with [reserve big man Cristiano Felicio]. With Cris rolling to the rim, we have to find a way to reward him. Kay has shown the ability to throw that lob pass to him or hit him on a late pass as Cris is rolling to the rim.
“That opens up the perimeter on that backside when he gets in there. That and his speed, he’s not going to back down. He’s a guy who, with his size, has always played with a chip on his shoulder. We know he’ll give us good effort.’’
Hoiberg obviously wants to keep that effort on the second unit for now.
And that’s fine with the 5-9 Felder, even after his eye-opening performance in the Bulls’ 119-112 loss Tuesday to the Cavaliers.
Felder, 22, played only 16 minutes and still had 13 points and four assists.
“I feel like everybody wants to start, honestly,’’ Felder said. “But it’s all Coach’s decision. I’m going to ride with whatever decision he makes. I’m just here. I’m here working hard every day and trying to prove myself.
“I mean, everybody is in here competing every day, and everybody is trying to solidify themselves first and foremost, so I’m just here trying to solidify myself, gain trust in the coaching staff because this is my first year with these coaches.’’
Breathe easy, Jerian Grant.
Well, for a short time anyway.
Grant has been the starting point guard since Kris Dunn was forced out of the preseason competition with a nasty dislocated left index finger, but Dunn is “50-50’’ to make his Bulls regular-season debut Thursday night against the Hawks at the United Center.
Grant will start over Dunn for the time being, but the Bulls didn’t acquire Dunn in the Jimmy Butler deal to use him off the bench. And Felder has emerged to add even more intrigue at point guard.
Grant is not concerned about a repeat of last season, however.
Rajon Rondo began last season as the starting point guard, then Michael Carter-Williams took over, then it was Grant’s turn. The starting role reverted to Rondo until he was injured in the playoffs, and Isaiah Canaan assumed the position. It was musical chairs and left all four players angry.
“I think guys are going to get their minutes this year,’’ Grant said. “It’s not four or five of us this year. It’s two or three of us. So guys are going to get their minutes and get the chance to actually show that they deserve those minutes.’’
Let the drama begin.
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