A Top Scoring Duo, Ayo Dosunmu's Defense, Pay Benny the Bull, and Other Bulls Bullets

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A Top Scoring Duo, Ayo Dosunmu’s Defense, Pay Benny the Bull, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

Today caps off the final week without Bulls basketball until at least April of 2023. Four preseason games rest ahead – three of which will tip off over the next seven days.

As much as we’ll try to temper expectations and withhold stark judgment until the beginning of the regular season on Oct. 19 … let’s not pretend we’ll be successful. The anxiety is going to come whether we like it or not, so use this final Sunday to soak in those optimistic thoughts and hot takes. We have a bumpy (but hopefully exciting) road ahead!

  • Buckets. I expect lots and lots of buckets.
  • In all seriousness, part of the reason I remain high on this team’s ability to secure a playoff spot this season is because of their balanced backcourt. While both DeRozan and LaVine have their defensive deficiencies, they are easily one of the best scoring duos in the league. And I’m not sure that’s talked about enough. Before LaVine’s knee started to significantly impact his play last season (let’s just use Jan. 14 – when he exited the Warriors game – as the cut-off), he and DeRozan sat 11th and 7th in scoring, respectively. The two also went on to finish as the only teammates to finish top-13 in total points scored during the regular season. They practically instantly shut down any concern about their on-court fit, and I can’t imagine opposing defenses will have any easier of a time-stopping them this season (especially with a fully healthy LaVine involved and perhaps an improved Vucevic).
  • While DeRozan and LaVine can hang with almost any other backcourt scoring duo, Ayo Dosunmu and Alex Caruso have the potential to be one of the East’s better defensive tandems. Don’t get me wrong, I would feel more comfortable with the Ball-Caruso pairing leading the way, but let’s not forget how well Dosunmu played on that end as well. He provided tremendous on-ball defense against some of the East’s best scorers. Per NBA Stats’ matchup data, Darius Garland shot 41.9 percent when guarded by Dosunmu last season, Trae Young shot 36.7 percent, Cade Cunningham shot 36.4 percent, Jayson Tatum shot 31.3 percent, and Bradley Beal shot just 25.0 percent! I’m not necessarily saying we should expect to see the exact same results, but he showed enough promise on this end to believe he can have the impact the Bulls will need him to have with Ball sidelined.
  • Now, are there still concerns about rim-protection and 3-point shooting? Absofreakinlutely. But I do truly believe the Bulls have gifted enough individual players on both ends to surprise a top team in the East on any given night. The bigger question is whether they have the discipline and the chemistry to make up for their shortcomings. This is a group that will have to work together to fill some pretty big roster holes, which is something they really struggled to do as last season went on. The ball started to stick on one end and players became out of sync on the other. The absence of Ball is a big reason why, but one player shouldn’t make that harmful of a difference. It’s up to head coach Billy Donovan to ensure this group can stick to its identity even in the face of adversity.
  • Nikola Vucevic has a cousin who apparently plays for New Mexico State. That is all.
  • How about disappearing now? – Sincerely, Bulls fans.
  • Benny the Bull is easily one of the most recognizable mascots in all of sports. I’d be pretty darn curious to know what chunk of change he’s bringing in because that lifestyle has to be pretty darn exhausting.
  • The Bears will be without their starting kicker for a windy game.
  • *sarcastic gasp*

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Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.