Monday possibly saw the Bulls' new backcourt rotation, or at least the glimpse of its future. Ever since Hinrich and Gordon were paired together, the team's been searching for that third guard off the bench that could adequately defend opposing shooting guards while still being an offensive threat. And Thabo Sefolosha looks to be the answer, judging by his early-season performance which was highlighted by Monday night against the Bucks.
Not the most spectacular scoring line, with 9 pts on 4-9 shooting in 16 minutes. But Thabo certainly was impressive for a rookie. Like it was suggested before the draft, being 24 [er....22 -ed.] and a professional overseas means that the transition to the NBA should be relatively smooth. Sefolosha already has NBA playmaking ability, using his long reach to finish around the basket and court vision to complete several nice plays Monday night. And even if his jump shot still looks shaky, his ability to slash to the basket in transition is a great complement to what is still primarily a jump-shooting team.
And complementing skills is what Sefolosha can provide for Ben Gordon. With Hinrich out early with foul trouble, Skiles first went to his usual first guard choice off the bench, Chris Duhon. Duhon also found himself in quick foul trouble, picking up 3 in merely 4 minutes. Thabo came in, and Duhon didn't see the floor the rest of the night (ok so he's kindof hurt, but it was still indicitive of Thabo's play). Thabo gave a tall defensive option at the off-guard, allowing Gordon to stay on the floor, and shoot shoot shoot. Gordon was aggressive from the beginning of the game, getting the ball out on the break and pulling up for 10-foot jumpers, even if he was outnumbered down the floor. And when Milwaukee started collapsing on him he distributed the ball well, getting a career-high 9 assists.
Like in the Miami romp, against the Bucks the Bulls defense was outstanding (Wallace and Brown were fantastic and completely shut down Andrew Bogut) and allowed the offense to attack on the break. When they can do that it's pretty easy. But I'm still waiting to see a win where they get slowed down and are forced to attack the rim out of a halfcourt set. Gordon's been working on that more this season, and the Swiss Mister, Thabo Sefolosha looks to be another dynamic guard that diversifies the Bulls offense beyond long-range shooting. Here's to hoping this is the start of his new role as the first guard off the bench.