Given the list of missing players for both teams heading into the Chicago Bulls preseason finale, the appeal of the game was to watch how some of the younger and reserve players fared with increased minutes. Against a Milwaukee Bucks team with a super short rotation (eight players) and filled with reserves, the Bulls jumped out to a lead early and never looked back. Despite only having a two point lead at the half, Chicago outscored their opponents by 21 in the second half to comfortably win 127-104.
The spotlight was particularly on guys such as Patrick Williams, Ayo Dosunmu, and Dalen Terry. With Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan out, this was a time for members of the Bulls younger core to get some valuable game action.
Williams was the main operator offensively for Chicago. He took a team high 17 shots and scored 22 points along with adding five assists and five rebounds. We have seen this type of play from Williams before in Summer League and even last season during the end of the regular season. However, this only seems to take place when multiple starters are not playing. Granted with the regular starters playing, Williams won’t have as many touches of the ball let alone shots to reproduce the type of stat line he had. But this does show that he’s capable of being a decent scorer at the NBA level. His defense looked solid all game as well. For Williams to be successful this season, he needs to make the most of his play off the ball. Getting into good positions to either cut or spot up will go a long way in not only his development but also in helping the Chicago offense as a whole. It will present defenses with one more option to worry about.
Nikola Vucevic didn’t get the night off and played 24 minutes, notching a double double of 17 points and 11 rebounds. Ayo Dosunmu got the start again this preseason and after the game, was confirmed the starting point guard on opening night by Billy Donovan. He scored eight points and grabbed two rebounds but had a nice step back jumper, which was encouraging.
Dalen Terry and Coby White both were boosted into the starting lineup. White remained on fire this preseason, scoring 15 points while knocking down four of his eight three-point attempts. Terry only scored five points but was active all over the floor, notching five assists and four rebounds. Once again, his energy and ability to read the game has helped his transition into the NBA. Nobody knows how much he will play this season but his performances in these four games has left a lot room for intrigue and optimism.
Alex Caruso was the star of the show for the Bulls as he was everywhere. He gathered a stat line Bulls fans should be very used to by now. Caruso had six points but three steals, nine assists, and seven rebounds. He was a menace defensively, making life tough for Bucks backcourt players.
Goran Dragic chipped in with 13 points and four assists while continuing to improve on his performance against the Nuggets. Andre Drummond led all Bulls bench players with 16 points and nine rebounds. Sadly, he did miss his only three-point attempt of the night. Javonte Green continued to impress this preseason with 10 points and five rebounds in 17 minutes. It remains to be seen who the starter at the four spot is against Miami next Wednesday but Green has made a strong case for himself this past week of games.
Derrick Jones was the only other Bull to notch double digit minutes. He had six points and one rebound but it included another solid dunk. Everyone who was listed on the gameday roster ended up getting some burn with the game clearly out of hand in the fourth quarter.
Chi Slama Jama.@TheRea1DJones | @NBCSChicago pic.twitter.com/OqbCHas3sv— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) October 12, 2022
Milwaukee was led by the 25 points of Jordan Nwora while Marques Bolden had 21. Given their short rotation, there were four Bucks players who played more than 30 minutes.
This was a good final tune-up for the Bulls. After their first half against the Pelicans, Chicago has seemed to have woken up and looked at times like the playoff contender they were last year. The final three games were all nice performances with plenty of positives to take away from it. The East is deep this year and the Bulls will have to fight for every win. After the preseason, they look like they aren’t going back down easily. It all tips off next week when the real games begin.