First things first, watch this video.
Building chemistry 🧪 pic.twitter.com/IwzFgZvjxT
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) October 2, 2021
Good. Now, watch it nine more times. Do it? NO! WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR!
Is it silly to get absurdly hyped over just an eight-second scrimmage video? Absolutely, but I’m going to allow myself to ride this current optimistic high as long as I can. Seeing Lonzo Ball push the offensive up the floor and connect with Nikola Vucevic and DeMar DeRozan for the eventual easy score makes all of this feel that much more real. Not to mention, watching all three of them command the possession in this way without even a glimpse of Zach LaVine is another reminder of the help that has finally arrived. Again, I know it’s just one little video clip, but … damn … it’s a good one!
• Soon these scrimmage highlights will turn into preseason play. We are two days away from a matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers for the first of four preseason games. Then, fast forward a little over three weeks, and the regular season will tip-off in Detroit. One big question that could hang over the team’s head through all of this is whether or not Patrick Williams will be ready for game one. The front office continued their significant investment in Williams this summer by not heavily bolstering the team’s front-court depth. They decided to make him the starting lineup defensive anchor, and any time missed feels like yet another harsh blow to any already questionable defensive unit.
• The good news is recent reports out of training camp have Williams on a very positive track. There is a world where he returns before the start of the season, and all these concerns prove unnecessary. At the same time, it’s still possible he misses a game or the team does not allow him to carry a full workload immediately upon his return. With that being the case, Donovan still has to find lineups that can fill this Williams-sized hole, and he been trying to do just that in training camp.
… as a name he's looking at, and that staggering minutes will be part of consideration. But still deliberating.
The one constant, of course, per Donovan: "You're probably going to be dealing with an undersized power forward. That's what you're really gonna be dealing with."
— Rob Schaefer (@rob_schaef) October 2, 2021
• According to NBC Sports Chicago’s Rob Schaefer, it appears Derrick Jones Jr. has been running with the starters as the main backup four. The other lineups have featured Alex Caruso, Troy Brown Jr., and Javonte Green. Considering all three of these players are traditionally guard or wings, I think we can make the safe assumption DeRozan has slid over to power forward in these lineups (where he played the strong majority of his minutes last season). The Green inclusion is somewhat surprising. He must have impressed Donovan and Co. with his sparkplug defensive play toward the end of last season. And while he isn’t any kind of real threat offensively, he is a pretty tremendous athlete who can easily keep up with Ball, LaVine, and DeRozan in transition.
• I doubt Green cracks the rotation this season, but I think Donovan’s mere mention of the veteran goes to show how open this coaching staff is to weigh all their options. After all, when you have a roster with this many newbies, it’s kind of your only option. The only two names I could see really struggling to find key minutes are the two rookies. As intriguing as both Ayo Dosunmu and Marko Simonovic are, it’s hard to imagine Donovan will give them much run in such a pivotal season. Maybe both have a stellar preseason and change my expectations, but we’ll see.
• If one of the two rookies did see consistent minutes on the floor this season, I feel like it would have to be Simonovic. One injury at the center position, and he will likely have to be the next man up simply due to his size. Dosunmu is a player I certainly believe can help in a number of ways down the road, especially if this team expects to play up-tempo, but this roster is stuffed with backcourt pieces. Not to mention, he will have to make some serious improvements as an off-ball player to carve himself out a role at this level.
• The GREAT news for Dosunmu is that he has a ton of mentors on this roster. Ball can help him develop as a defensive player and transition playmaker while DeRozan can help Dosunmu transition his already-solid midrange game to the pros. I’m high on Dosunmu’s ability to become a swiss-army knife of sorts for this Bulls team, but I think it might take some time to see that come to fruition. Anyway, Sam Smith wrote a great piece about how Dosunmu has looked behind the scenes, and I recommend you give it a read:
The last time the Bulls picked 38th and little was expected of that all-American guard he started 73 games as a rookie. Could that also be Ayo?https://t.co/EtvpHRdaOg
— Sam Smith (@SamSmithHoops) October 3, 2021
• Please don’t let him get sacked nine times, Nagy.
ICYMI: Justin Fields will make his first start at Soldier Field TODAY https://t.co/qKkJG3Esnu
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) October 3, 2021
• Makes perfect sense to me.
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) October 2, 2021