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Bulls 2014-15 position preview: The wings

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Jimmy Butler was the Bulls' best player in the preseason before getting injured, and the fourth-year man looks primed for a big year if he can stay healthy.

Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Happy NBA Opening Day! After looking at the point guards yesterday, we continue our roster preview with a look at the Bulls' wings.

Jimmy Butler

Preseason stats: 25.9 MPG, 15.8 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 2.3 APG, 58.8 FG%, 20.0 3P%

Prior to spraining his left thumb against the Hornets, Butler was the Bulls' best player in the preseason. The trimmed down fourth-year man was all over the court on both ends of the floor, as evidenced by a net rating hovering around 38 and a PER close to 34, per RealGM.

Much was made about Butler's shooting woes last season, and unfortunately, the jumper still appears to be broken. However, he remained super effective in the preseason despite a busted J by doing a ton of damage at the rim and at the line. He got a lot of good looks from close thanks to timely cuts, getting out in transition and hitting the offensive glass. His off-the-dribble game was also solid, and he not only used it to get to the line over seven times per game, but also to find open shooters on drive-and-kick opportunities.

Butler showed off a post game during the big comeback against the Hawks, and against certain matchups, that could be a useful weapon. However, I'm not sure if it's something that Butler can really rely upon yet, because when he tried to post up Lance Stephenson the following game, he was stonewalled.

With the regular season approaching, Butler's status for the opener against the Knicks remains up in the air. Tom Thibodeau was his usual non-committal self when describing Butler's status, but the Bulls head coach said the swingman was improving, according to Doug Padilla of ESPN Chicago. I get the feeling Butler's going to play, but while I would love to see him go head-to-head against Carmelo Anthony, I just hope he doesn't rush coming back.

What's also up in the air is Butler's contract status. The deadline to sign an early extension is Friday, so time is getting short. He certainly has helped himself with his preseason play, and there are many factors that'll go into what kind of contract he gets.

For what it's worth, Butler told K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune that he's confident about getting a deal done. If a new deal is reached, I would expect it to come down to the wire like Taj Gibson's extension did a few years back.

And finally, is it too much to ask for Butler to not play 42 minutes per game this year? I know Tony Snell being bad doesn't help matters, but let's keep it more reasonable this year, eh Thibs?

Mike Dunleavy

Preseason stats: 24.5 MPG, 9.7 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 0.3 APG, 42.5 FG%, 44.0 3P%

I feel like Dunleavy was a bit of an afterthought this preseason. He did miss a couple of games with a minor injury, and everybody seems to want Doug McDermott to be in the starting lineup. I'll admit that I'm even hoping McDermott becomes the starter at some point.

But right now, Dunleavy hasn't done enough to lose the starting job and McDermott hasn't earned the starting job. Dunleavy quietly shot 44.0 percent from behind the arc this preseason (it sure as hell didn't feel like it), and the team played well when the veteran was on the floor.

You could argue that perhaps the second unit could use Dunleavy's veteran presence and that McDermott would be better served playing with Rose, but I just don't see that change happening until the rookie proves himself more. So for now, Dunleavy's the starter.

Doug McDermott

Preseason stats: 25.6 MPG, 8.3 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 1.5 APG, 35.1 FG%, 28.6 3P%

I'm not going to lie, I was a little disappointed with McDermott's preseason performance. That's probably my fault for starting to buy into some of the hype, but there were plenty of times where I found myself wondering what exactly he was doing on the court.

But this doesn't mean I'm concerned. McDermott missed quite a few open looks, and those are shots I'm confident will start to fall as time goes on. The guy is just too good a shooter. I will say that when the Bulls run pindowns for him, I'd prefer he come off those screens beyond the arc instead of a step or two inside. I recall quite a few times when that didn't happen.

We didn't see too much of an off-the-bounce game, although there were a few flashes. I'm not sure if that'll ever be a big part of McDermott's game, but hopefully we see more of it as he gets more comfortable. It sure would be nice if he was more than "just a shooter."

Defensively, there was both good and bad. Ultimately, I think McDermott will prove to be at least okay because he's smart and tries hard. He'll never be a lockdown guy, but he doesn't have to be.

As mentioned, I'm hoping McDermott is good enough where he can either be the starter and also used a lot in crunch time. Having a scorer like McDermott on the floor with Derrick Rose could be super dangerous and would theoretically open up things for the offense, but the rookie isn't there yet.

Tony Snell

Preseason stats: 15.6 MPG, 4.4 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 0.6 APG, 28.9 FG%, 20.0 3P%

Yuck. That's just one of many negative words you could use to describe Snell's preseason. First, it looked like the second-year man wasn't going to be a part of the rotation. But thanks to the injuries to Butler and Dunleavy, Snell saw an uptick in minutes. Sadly, it wasn't pretty.

At times, it looked like Snell forgot how to play basketball. At other times, he was busy firing up a shot nearly every time he touched the ball. I don't necessarily mind a guy being aggressive and getting his shots up, but when you're consistently tossing up bricks, it's not a good look.

I don't think Snell is a completely lost cause, but it's getting pretty close. If the regulars are healthy, I don't see how he gets many minutes to prove that he doesn't stink. If he does get minutes, hopefully he can turn things around, because he's going to be around next season barring a trade.

E'Twaun Moore

Preseason stats: Negligible

The best thing I can really say about Moore is you can do worse for an end of the bench guy. For example, I think Moore is better than Daequan Cook. I think.