Don’t read too much into Bulls’ dress rehearsal Friday
Sure, there’s a new coach in Billy Donovan, as well as a new look to the offense and defense, but Donovan insisted that he’s still looking for chemistry with different lineups. So embrace the change, but don’t expect anything to be set in stone.
Go ahead and eat it up.
Heck, take what is seen on Friday and even let it digest.
Just don’t make it a regular part of your diet.
Yes, the Bulls will make their preseason debut with a new coach in Billy Donovan and a new philosophy on both ends of the ball, and while cards will be shown against Houston, Donovan warned that they are still in a feeling out process before the games start to matter on Dec. 23.
“For me right now, I’m still looking at the combination of players,’’ Donovan said. “I wouldn’t even read into too much about who even starts against Houston on Friday. I think we still have to figure some of those things out. We do have four preseason games and we’ll probably look at some different combinations. We may have different starting lineups for those four games. We’ll have to see. The biggest thing for me is just trying to install offense and defense and the opportunity to play and compete.’’
Not that some of the secret sauce recipe hasn’t been leaked out.
Defensively, the days of the Bulls blitzing every pick-and-roll thrown their way is over. Give Jim Boylen credit: He was instructed by his bosses to give the team an identity last season, and made steps in that direction with a team that improved its defensive efficiency thanks to being among the best in the league at steals and deflections.
It proved to be a bit of a mirage, however, as that blitzing style with the bigs led to the Bulls being naked at the rim far too often, and didn’t result where it mattered most in wins.
“I don’t like giving up too many of the secrets we have, but we’re not blitzing every play anymore, so that’s definitely keeping us in a little better condition throughout the game,’’ guard Zach LaVine said with a laugh. “The main thing is we’re going to be helping each other [defensively] a lot more. … There are going to be lots of different coverages depending on the team if you are going to be switching, guarding the drop or coming up more, if you are playing guys who can shoot the ball off pick and roll the big has to be up more, so I think there is just a lot more built in help to where if there is somebody beat they are not just on an island.’’
Which means even more pressure has switched to Wendell Carter Jr. Most centers are the defensive signal callers. The floor is in front of them, so they get the best view of the offensive actions being thrown at teammates.
Not only is Carter excited to further his voice, but now that he’s not blitzing pick-and-roll every time down the floor, he’s expecting his blocks and rebounds to actually show how dominant he can be.
“I feel like, especially with the scheme that’s been put in play, being able to throw different defenses at a team, I feel is going to help us,’’ Carter said. “For myself, I feel like it’s going to definitely be very important for me to be the communicator.’’
Offensively, of course all eyes will be on Coby White’s play as the projected starting point guard, but no player is under more of a microscope than Lauri Markkanen, and what he looks like in Donovan’s system.
Once considered a foundation piece to the rebuild, Markkanen’s game regressed last season. Now, it’s about reviving it.
“I’m just trying to play at a high level, the level that I can play at,’’ Markkanen said. “I know that last season wasn’t the best, so I’m just trying to bounce back from that. But I don’t take any extra pressure from people on the outside.’’