We are now two games into the preseason for the 2012-2013 campaign, and the Chicago Bulls have not looked very good.
In their Friday night loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Bulls fell into an early hole that they couldn’t quite climb out of. Doing them in was their lack of effort, along with some incredible struggles from the field, particularly beyond the arc.
The starters looked just okay, but failed to set the tone. The bench continued to struggle in their preseason action, particularly Nate Robinson, who was a putrid 1-of-11 from the field. This is already setting off some panic among Tom Thibodeau and fans of the Bulls. But is preseason game no. 2 cause for concern?
Yes, this is obviously a team playing until at least January without one of the best players on the planet, in Derrick Rose, but they’re still plenty capable of contending with this starting five given their division and their conference.
The starters will be fine. This is a group the remains largely unchanged from last year, with the exception of Kirk Hinrich at the point, rather than Rose. But it’s a strong group of veterans that should be able to help carry the team in the absence of Rose. They’ll need Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah to set the tone on a nightly basis, though, something that they may not be able to do.
While the concern over the starters is, and should be, minimal, the bench is what have many worried about this team. The Bulls cut loose Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, Omer Asik, and C.J. Watson this summer. Replacing them are the likes of Marco Belinelli, Jimmy Butler (who will now see increased minutes), Nazr Mohammed, and Robinson.
Overall, that’s a unit that has the potential to be better than the previous “bench mob”. Belinelli can create his own shot more than Korver could, Butler’s play last year deemed Brewer expendable, and Asik was probably overrated in his time with the Bulls.
But while this unit could be better in the long term, they’re going to take some time to adjust to each other. The starters will need time to gel with new-and-former Bull Kirk Hinrich just as the bench guys will need time to gel with each other. That’s what the preseason is for.
If we draw closer to October 31st and the Bulls are experiencing the same types of struggles, then there may be some reasons to be concerned about them. But after game no. 2 of the preseason, it’s awfully silly to judge how a team’s entire season is going to shake out, based on a couple of lackluster performances.