Bulls coach Jim Boylen is mum, but point-guard competition is over
Boylen wouldn’t come out and name his starter Thursday, but he didn’t need to. Tomas Satoransky will be the starting “lead guard’’ and has the numbers to buttress that decision.
Bulls coach Jim Boylen is willing to play the long game — at least as long as this compressed NBA preseason will allow.
That’s why he was staying mum on naming a starting point guard, with the tipoff of the regular season less than two weeks away.
‘‘I think we’re working this process,’’ Boylen said Thursday. ‘‘Every day, there is more clarity on what you like, what you don’t like, who fits, who doesn’t fit. Not only in that position but other situations.
‘‘We can’t play everybody. From Day 1, I said we’re going to have to share and become a team where sacrifice is involved. That day is coming, not just for that lead guard position but other ones, too.’’
When asked whether ‘‘that day’’ was Thursday, Boylen opted to keep the final decision close to the vest.
‘‘Not today,’’ he said. ‘‘We’re further along with that, but I’m not ready to give that up yet.’’
He doesn’t have to. The numbers and results through the Bulls’ first two preseason games show the winner of that spot, and the starter likely was determined well before training camp started.
When the Bulls made the commitment to acquire Tomas Satoransky in a sign-and-trade deal with the Wizards and gave him a three-year, $30 million contract extension in July, it was obvious he was the front-runner — unless Kris Dunn or Coby White were flat-out spectacular.
While both have been good, Satoransky is still the front-runner. The first two preseason games only offered further evidence of that.
Yes, Dunn was solid in a start Monday against the Bucks, scoring 11 points and finishing with three assists and three steals in 24 minutes, but he also was a minus-6. Satoransky scored only two points in 22 minutes against the Bucks, but he grabbed seven rebounds, handed out three assists, had five steals and was a plus-3.
On Wednesday against the Pelicans, Satoransky started and finished with 11 points, eight assists and five rebounds en route to a plus-7. Dunn had two points, five assists and five rebounds but was a minus-7.
While plus-minus doesn’t tell the whole story, the eye test spoke volumes. The Bulls just looked better with Satoransky on the floor because of his versatility and the way the ball seems to move around.
‘‘I think the ball was popping,’’’ Boylen said of the movement with Satoransky on the floor. ‘‘It’s something we’ve been talking about.’’
Once Boylen makes Satoransky the official starter in the next few days, Dunn still will play an important role, running a second unit that will be hell-bent on locking down teams. That means Dunn at the point, Thaddeus Young in the frontcourt and Luke Kornet as the rim protector. It also means White will be a reserve combo guard.
As for Satoransky, it’s about continuing to get comfortable with his fellow starters.
‘‘You see some film from last year, then playing with them helps you the most,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m a guy that likes to play with the players and kind of learn it from that experience, but it’s still a process.’’