[Thanks to Alex for today's game preview. The BaB Derrick Rose injury report (guess) is that he'll play. -yfbb]
Did you know the Bulls have the most players averaging 10+ points a game (6) in this young season (along with Utah, Cleveland, and a few others)? Neither did I. Sadly, while our offense has vaulted up the charts (we're currently 6th in points per game, a good indicator of offensive success -- we finished the 2013-14 season ranked dead last in this category), our defense has surprisingly slid (a lowly 16th in opponent points per game, a far cry from our 1st-ranked OPPG at the end of last season). Are we missing Carlos Boozer's mad defensive rebounding skillz after all? Only time (and team record) will tell. I highly doubt that, for as much as defensive rebounding abetted our team last season, Pau Gasol isn't going to continue to be a marked improvement over 'los in all other areas (especially blocks, scoring, rebounding, opera attendance, and, you know, general team morale).
Continuing our cupcake early-season schedule, tonight's foes, the Detroit Pistons (2-4), are coming off a 1-point home loss to the kinda-sorta decent Utah Jazz, on the second night of a back-to-back. By contrast, we've had a day to recuperate from an embarrassing home defeat at the ends of the lottery-bound Boston Celtics, and continue to hang the threat of a Derrick Rose return 3.0 over the Pistons' heads. If the 5-2 Bulls don't win tonight, it will have been a very dark 48 hours of Chicago sports indeed.
Now for the Pistons -- brick-laying Brandon Jennings must be absolutely terrified about ex-Bull D.J. Augustin, who continues to breathe down his neck for the Pistons' starting point guard position. J-Smoov, starting at small forward again for some reason, has been doing hilarious J-Smoov things to the surprise of absolutely no one. He boasts a Kirk-esque 33% field goal percentage at present in this young season and is operating on an unmovable contract (unless it's to Philly, I guess). Andre Drummond has been looking good (10.8 points and 11.7 rebounds so far, in only 27.7 minutes of action), and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has had his moments since his return from an injury. Greg Monroe (averaging a pretty nifty 17.5 points and 11.8 boards, along with 2.8 assists) is almost certainly gone after this season, and if I'm Stan Van Gundy, I'm looking to flip him for some shooting on the wing not named Jodie Meeks. These guys are generally kind of a poor-shooting mess, and they're paying three starters for two starting big-man positions, all of whom appear to lack the humility of Taj Gibson and Pau to sacrifice opening (Taj) or closing games (Pau). We better beat them, but we've been playing down to the level of our competition of late.
I think a huge problem in the early going with these Bulls has been rotational, and I'm glad that Thibs has been experimenting with mixing the rookies in with the starters. The reality is that Taj is considerably better than Pau, and is a better fit in the starting unit than that long-limbed Spaniard. McDermott will probably take over from Dunleavy in due time this season, but as with many a rookie, he has been pretty erratic thus far, so I'm actually okay with him coming off the bench. As usual, Kirk is playing too many minutes, but I'm happy to see that Thibs is giving decent time to our latest undersized waterbug, Aaron Brooks (shooting 58.3% from three thus far).
Closing thoughts on guess who: he better not return from his two sprained ankles if he's not ready AGAIN, and here's why: it's fucking November, D-Rose. It's fucking November.
BONUS NOTE: I'm gonna go ahead and peg the over/under on hilarious Stan Van freak-out faces at 5.5, I think. I'm so glad he's back.
Tip at 7:00 PM CST/8 EST on Comcast Sports Net/ESPN-AM 1000.