[bah gawd, that’s Tyler Pleiss’s music! The 19-20 Bulls has departed BaB contributors jacked and juiced to return -yfbb]
Shaking off a rusty start that included four turnovers in their first handful of possessions, the Bulls settled down into what looked like a route of the New Orleans Pelicans Wednesday night before collapsing in the fourth quarter. The Bulls 127-125 loss still had plenty of positive takeaways, such as Luke Kornet’s debut, and Cristiano Felicio’s dethroning.
Ball Movement and Pace
One of the earliest and most common criticisms around head coach Jim Boylen’s reign has been “getting back to the basics” on offense, i.e. slowing down the pace and settling for Robin Lopez post-ups.
In his media day comments, Boylen said the right things about increasing the Bulls pace of play and how he envisioned the offense to operate. They opened the preseason that way , and Wednesday night was another real glimpse of that, probably to many of our surprise.
Markkanen missed this corner three but the passing sequence to set up this shot may have been the best we've seen from the team in so damn long. pic.twitter.com/uuZK9OZALq— See Red Mark (@mkhoops) October 10, 2019
What allowed them to do so was their secondary break. Pushing the ball up the floor the Bulls often sent one of their bigs, in this case Luke Kornet, to set a high ball screen as the ball-handler crossed halfcourt, Tomas Santoransky, to drive downhill with shooters spacing the floor causing the Pelicans defense to scramble.
Throughout the first half and the third quarter, the Bulls were pinging the ball around and getting great looks. Chicago put up 71 first half points with 24 assists on 30 made field goals, shooting 11-20 from beyond the arc.
Note: There was not one post-up when the top rotation players were in the game.
Tomas Santoransky - Starting point guard
In case there was any confusion, Tomas Santoransky is going to be your starting point guard come opening night.
Nice play here. Had run this double down for Zach on the first possession and he iso'd. Here Sato takes it himself and Lauri spaces to the corner where he can get an open shot since it's Zion's help pic.twitter.com/LIZMGIEZTQ— Will Gottlieb (@wontgottlieb) October 10, 2019
Not to compare apples to oranges, but Kris Dunn isn’t making that play. But it wasn’t just that type of pass that separates Sato from his counterparts in Dunn and White. Sato affects the game in so many ways; with high IQ, shooting, defense and the intangibles.
Satoransky won't be credited with a stat here but LaVine gets to the line because of his PGs hustle to keep the possession alive.— See Red Mark (@mkhoops) October 10, 2019
Sato through three: 11 points (5-of-6), 8 assists, 5 rebounds. pic.twitter.com/FffAW4abWD
The Bulls core three, LaVine, Otto Porter Jr. and Markkanen were noticeably better playing with Sato in the starting five (see the first half stats). Mix in Carter Jr. once he’s back from his minor setback, and things are looking fun for this group heading into the season.
And it seems like Boylen may have the point guard decision made up.
Luke Kornet and Colby White Impress
How freaking fun was Luke Kornet in his Bulls debut? So much that he started the second half in place of Felicio who was relegated to last big off the bench.
It was pretty obvious right from the start that Luke has a chance to be a key rotation player behind Wendell Carter Jr. While his shooting is often the first attribute most talk about when it comes to Kornet, it was his passing and high basketball IQ that stood out the most against New Orleans.
Scrap everything and run the offense through Luke Kornet pic.twitter.com/CsCAs4JwbE— Will Gottlieb (@wontgottlieb) October 10, 2019
Kornet finished with nine points, two rebounds and four assists. He should end up being a nice compliment to Lauri Markkanen, providing the Bulls with a second stretch big and someone who could be a point center.
White had a bit of an up and down debut Monday night against Milwaukee but showed some really great flashes agains the Pelicans. He looked more comfortable and notably confident while on the floor.
[ignores the ball pounding]— See Red Mark (@mkhoops) October 10, 2019
He continued to push the pace with the ball in his hands, making the right reads in the halfcourt, hitting a few open threes and difficult finishes around the rim.
Forget about Coby White making shots. If the kid can see and execute reads like this consistently then he's way ahead of the development curve. pic.twitter.com/0CK0vLE6uS— See Red Mark (@mkhoops) October 10, 2019
White finished with 13 points, three rebounds and three assists (he went 6-15 shooting, most of those misses coming in the second half up 20). From game one to game two, White improved, which is what you want to see.