New Bull Daniel Theis talks defense and hopes teammates will follow
Bulls coach Billy Donovan feels like there’s “an air” to Theis when he’s on the court, especially on the defensive end. Now Donovan needs that to spread, starting with his guards on the perimeter, as the Bulls look to get the defense back on track.
Billy Donovan agreed that there’s “an air’’ to newly-acquired big Daniel Theis.
Maybe it’s the tattoos or the shaved head of the newest Bull. Maybe it’s that he’s a Mohawk and a pair of leather chaps away from looking like something out of “Road Warrior,’’ or maybe it’s that look on his face. That kind of glare he throws at the opposition like he’s about to have bad intentions, and there’s very little they can do about it.
Whatever it is, Donovan hopes it’s contagious.
“I hope so,’’ Donovan said on Tuesday, when asked if Theis’ physical attitude can permeate throughout the roster. “There is an air to him and there’s a feel to him when he’s on the court, like you feel him. You feel him in the game. That part is encouraging.’’
What hasn’t been encouraging? The Bulls defense.
It started the season off poorly, started gaining momentum through a lot of growing pains, but in the wake of five new players joining the roster at the deadline, has again gone through some serious slippage.
The reasons are numerous.
The fix won’t happen overnight.
Theis, however, has played just one game with his new team and already offered up a good starting point after the loss to the Warriors.
“I think it’s also a mindset,’’ Theis said. “How much you want to be out there, how hard do you want to play, do you want to sacrifice your body on the defensive end? One thing for us as a team, we gotta be more physical, we gotta be more into the ball.
“Like [Monday], if you let Steph [Curry] get comfortable and don’t be into him the whole game, he’s gonna give you 30-plus points easy. So obviously it’s a mindset. If you want to be into people’s body and be physical and just kind of annoying too. Like if you’re into them from the first second, you know it’s not gonna be an easy game for them.’’
Are you listening Bulls perimeter defenders, because the turnaround on that end of the ball will begin and end with you?
It’s not a direct indictment on the likes of Zach LaVine, Coby White and Tomas Satoransky, but it is a loud and clear message coming from a guy that needed just 22 minutes of evidence against Golden State to see it. His coach has been collecting that evidence a lot longer.
“We may takes some steps backwards to be honest with you, as we start to get maybe a little more accustomed to how we’re trying to play, but to be honest with you I think you can always predicate how good you are defensively by how good you are on the perimeter,’’ Donovan said. “The guards that can blow-out screens, the guards that can get in the ball and guard one-on-one in the open floor or even half-court, guys that can really enable bigs to go back to their man, when you have guys like that, that’s generally where your defense becomes very, very dominant because so much of what’s going on is the ball is in somebody’s hands, and guys able to create and make plays, and the more you have to put two people on the ball, the more you open up yourself to a lot of challenges.
“That’s generally what I would think when you look at good defensive teams that immediately stand out to me, is the physicality and the ability one-on-one to guard the ball one-through-four.’’
NOTE: LaVine was still dealing with a sore ankle, with Donovan calling him questionable for the game against the Suns on Wednesday.