Just some random half-arsed observations:
I'm sure everyone is on edge to hear this declaration: Derrick Rose is going to be OK at basketball. I see a future in the league for this kid.
He missed his first few jumpers (and was a bit more trigger-happy than I thought he'd be) but he showed what he could do early in the game: not only did he initiate a lob to Tyrus (who whiffed, more on that later) but on a subsequent play he was the recipient of a lob. The point guard! Made some mistakes but also created space for shooters with his penetration. Looked for the ball when initiating the possession, and looked to run once he got it. Was not timid in attacking the basket, moved sharply off-the-ball, and showed off a nice jump-stop in the lane during the 3rd quarter. But what stood out right away is that this is a guard that can play above the rim. That hasn't been a part of this team for a while.
So that's good. Now to work on his teammates...
Kirk Hinrich was the two-guard tonight alongside Rose. I've doubted Hinrich's ability to ever be a full-time two, and tonight didn't do much to dissuade that opinion. He made one nice move getting through the center of the lane to get a layup and a foul, but on a couple of occasions he'd get the ball baseline on the move, and while heading towards the goal would not even look at the rim, let alone attack it. Thankfully he didn't follow through with the full-on Hinrich maneuver, but he needs to be more aggressive if he's playing off Rose. He also front-rimmed a few jump shots, and he was overpowered on defense on a couple of occasions by Antoine Wright.
Drew Gooden started at Center and played well. Eric Dampier is one of the bigger opponents he'll have to face, and overall he held his own, especially on the boards. He also made his jump shots, something that will be a key to this season as he'll have to carry the offensise load in the frontcourt.
Tyrus Thomas hit a couple jumpers himself and even made some plays when the defense starting closing out on him, but he did not show improvement in what was his major problem last season, which was finishing when close. He let a lob from Rose slip though his hands, and didn't do much around the basket on offense...getting to the point in the 2nd half where he'd start looking for the jumper first. I was a bit dissapointed that he wasn't isolated on offense more tonight, but against the tall frontcourt that Dallas posesses it could've just been a bad matchup. One thing I will say for Tyrus is that he didn't look lost , nor did he make many mistakes. And it's good that the jumper is still improving. But I don't want him to become another softie like LaMarcus Aldridge, I'd like to see him using that range to set up moves towards the basket.
Larry Hughes is not going to change, he is what he is. He takes bad shots, and a lot of them. He couldn't stay in front of Jason Terry on defense. When he did pass he forced them. He did a decent job rebounding, but that's that's about it for nice things to say about Hughes. Hopefully when Gordon comes back Huges will take his rightful place on the bench, though for tonight Hughes was ahead of Thabo in the depth chart.
Other random observations:
- Hinrich was announced after Rose in the starting lineups. Can you name a lamer face of a franchise than Kirk Hinrich?
- Luol Deng was underwhelming. I didn't even notice him in the game until halfway through the first, and he didn't do much outside of a few jump shots. Not worried or anything, but I would've been nice to see Lu take more initiative after a summer where he got paid and was the number-one option of his international team.
- The defense was pretty bad all night, alarmingly so in the first quarter when giving up 36 points while both teams' regulars were in the lineup. A lot of it had to do with turnovers on offense letting the Mavs run. Noah would've helped too. I'll wait a few games to see if that gets turned around at all.
- Good to know that even after changing over the announcing crew, the odd love for Aaron Gray remained. Stacy King said he should get 15-20 minutes a night, and then said that he'll learn to rotate better defensively as he matures. It's not a matter of recognition, Stacy, it's a matter of his inability to move his feet at above-glacial speed.
- Noc was pretty worthless: 0 points and 4 fouls. Let James Singleton get loose after a pick that led to a score. Didn't cut his hair all summer.
- Thabo had one nice play where he went rim-to-rim on a break. But he also lost the ball too much in the half-court set, and if he is indeed in the running to start alongside Rose he didn't distinguish himself.
- End of the first half, and Vinny drew up the play for Rose. It was pretty much an isolation of Rose at the top, and instead of sending someone to set a pick he overloaded to one side and let Rose beat his man solo off the dribble. Didn't quite work as Rose committed an offensive foul, but I like that the plan wasn't to inadvertenly send an extra defender at him, a la Skiles.
- When Tyrus exited the game for the final time he had a huge heat wrap around his back.
- Wasn't it nice not to see Chris Duhon?
- For the meaningful part of the game, the Bulls had zero three-point FGs. Come back soon, Ben Gordon.
- One third quarter lineup was Rose/Hughes/Deng/Noc/Gray. That's some high usage, and bad defense.
- Didn't watch most of the 4th, so I don't know who looked good in the scrub scrum amongst Washington, Powell, Simmons, Brown, and Nichols. Thabo and Aaron Gray received the rest of the garbage time.
- As I expected, I liked the new TV crew. Odd to see Red Kerr just give some brief analysis from courtside during a couple breaks, but I'd have to think that he'll be in studio when they give the Bulls the full pre/half/post show treatment.
- Game Thread comment of the night: messwiththebull, pulling a nice Big Lebowski reference to denigrate Larry Hughes.