Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thank You Jeebus

Out of town, but followed tonight's win against Golden St. on Gamecast and the Blog-a-Bull gamethread, and it sounds like Rose (who appears to have played another phenomenal game) wasn't seriously injured toward the end. It might feel windy up in Chicago, but really it's just me exhaling from Florida.

Since I have nothing to say about the game, let me just throw this at you: The Bulls' seven losses this year have come against opponents whose records are a combined 65-21 (.755). Their six wins have come against opponents whose records are a combined 34-41 (.441). (Combine 'em all, and it's .615.) In other words, they're losing to good teams, and beating bad-to-mediocre teams, meaning that they're a slightly above mediocre team themselves. Considering last year, and the fact that Derrick Rose is only going to get better (and hell, even Deng, Tyrus and Noah might improve), I'm pretty okay with this.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Blogger MVP and ROY Rankings...

... are up! Thanks to Ryan at Hoops Addict for tabulating.

FWIW (not much), here are my rankings (which I'm posting mostly because I'm pissed frickin' Kevin Love made the Final 5 in ROY voting and Jason Thompson wuz robbed! Stop sleeping on him bloggers!):

10 Points: LeBron James: 30, 8, and 7? Three 41 pt. games in a week? If he's not No. 1, there needs to be an investigation.

9: Dwyane Wade: Almost playing at the same level as LeBron, but turning the ball over too much.

8: Dwight Howard: So, so dominating. How did he not annihilate Olympic competition?

7: Chris Paul: The only player who can produce 22, 5, and 12 (while shooting 55% and leading the league in steals) and actually be a little disappointing.

6: Kobe Bryant: Nothing spectacular thus far, but until his team loses, he's gotta be top five. [NOTE: THE LAKERS WERE UNDEFEATED WHEN I WROTE THIS]

5: Joe Johnson: Using the same logic, let's show the Hawks' best player some love. I watched him have a bad shooting game against the Bulls, and he still ended up killing them with timely assists.

4: Paul Pierce: Had basically been ho-hum, until this week, when he stepped up HUGE late in games, much like in last year's Playoffs.

3: Tim Duncan: Not sure if he can keep the Spurs alive, but he's doing his damnedest.

2: Amar'e Stoudemire: Take away his huge game against the Pacers, and he probably doesn't merit Top 10. But that game was jawdropping

1: Chris Bosh: On pace for his best season.


5 Points: Derrick Rose: There is but one God, and Derrick Rose is his prophet. If he was playing with even a decent frontcourt, his assists would be a lot higher.

4: OJ Mayo: Impressive scoring, and, better yet, impressive shooting. That assist to turnover ratio (1:1.25) is a wreck, though.

3: Rudy Fernandez: 48 from the field, 46 from behind the arc, and 93 at the line: What's Spanish for "shooting the lights out"?

2: Jason Thompson: 12 and 7 per 25 minutes is pretty frickin' good for the pick everybody mocked. Indeed, per minute, he's rebounding and scoring(!!) better than Beasley.

1: Michael Beasley: Not that Beasley's been a bust. The scoring's been good--at times stunning. But where's the consistent rebounding?

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Calm Tyrus Is A Good Tyrus

Since I've been doubting him lately, let me pile on with Matt and say that Tyrus had a great game last night, especially on the defensive end, where I thought he was spectacularly non-spectacular. By that I mean, he consistently kept his feet on the ground, stayed in front of his man and had his arms up, instead of leaping at every shot fake and trying to swat everything out of the sky.

I think the same approach transferred over to the offensive end, as well, where he played within himself and got his points from mostly opportunistic buckets. Until his jumper starts coming around (which I think it can/will), this is the approach I want to see from Tyrus: Don't try to do too much; play calmly within the flow of the game. If players with his athleticism can just do that, they still end up very good lines.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Future of Rose

Injury worries aside (which, seeing as Rose has yet to miss a game, I would say are fairly premature), the future of Derrick Rose is...wait for it...pretty bright. But just how bright?

Basketball Prospectus' Anthony Macri tried to game it out today, and the post is full of stuff that should warm our hearts. It should be read in full, but here's his conclusion:

Rose simply does not fit into the traditional point guard designation all too well. The best player to use in comparison with Rose's unique combination of size, speed, approach, skills and talent for his position is a small forward: one named LeBron James.

Like James, Rose is a more than capable scorer, particularly as a finisher in the lane. His dribble his high but forceful, he is continuously moving in straight attack lines, pushing the ball in transition after a rebound, and using his strength and body control to absorb contact and covert baskets despite the foul. LeBron is so unique--a point guard in a power forward's body with a small forward's athleticism--that it may be hard to see the resemblance between the ways he and Rose approach the game. However, if you watch long enough, you begin to see the similarity in cadence, in the way they play the game.

That does not mean we should project James' success onto Rose. However, we can scale it down to see something similar. First, over the course of this season, expect Rose to improve, but for him to have major bouts with inconsistency as he sees different defenses and as his teammates adjust to playing with him. Del Negro will also have an impact here, as he learns his place and role as their head coach. In the long term, it looks unlikely from early returns that Rose will ever be a 20-point 10-assist guy, like Chris Paul. However, he could be a 25-point, eight-assist, six-rebound "Jason-Kidd-on-steroids" type of player, with multiple double-doubles as he continues to mature.

Like I said, pretty heartwarming. However, I think it's probably too soon to say that Rose will not be able to play as a more prototypical, perhaps "Chris Paul-on-steroids" point guard. It seems to me that there are two pretty strong explanations as to why Rose has looked to be more of a freakish scorer/finisher than facilitator.

Number one, as Macri sort of hints at, the Bulls simply need scoring from anywhere they can get it, and one of the best, most efficient ways for them to get it comes from Rose. That leads into the second reason, which is simply that, aside from Gordon and Nocioni, the rest of the team surrounding Rose has been pretty terrible, in particular our frontcourt.

To take just one example, in the second half of the Phoenix game last Friday, I noticed that Rose initiated a nice pick-and-roll with Joakim Noah at the top of the key. It looked very similar to the ones that Paul executes so well alongside Tyson Chandler, in that as Rose came off the pick and drove hard to the lane, both defenders had to commit to him in order to stop a free drive to the hoop. When this happens with Paul, he usually flips a lob pass in the air to a slightly trailing Chandler, who drives it home with a rim-rattling dunk. Rose attempted to do the same thing with Noah, but...Noah wasn't cutting with him and so the pass went sailing out of bounds. (You could tell Rose was simultaneously pissed off and stunned at Noah's complete lack of basketball IQ.)

To some extent, this might just be an aspect of Bulls players learning Rose's game and realizing just how easy he can make it for them. But I think we also have to look at the fact that one of the reasons Rose's assists aren't as high as they could be is that our frontcourt is playing absolutely horrible. Compare the eFG% of the Bulls' 3, 4, and 5 positions this year with New Orleans' from last year. They're not even close, and it's no wonder that, aside from having years of experience on Rose, Paul's assist level is so much higher. If Rose was playing alongside Tyson Chandler, Peja Stojakovic and David West, instead of Noah, Gooden, Tyrus and a slumping Deng, my guess is he'd be looking like a much better distributor.

Monday, November 10, 2008

You Know You're Grasping At Straws

... when the following logic is part of your case for not starting Gordon:

Plus, there's a certain psychological boost when the Bulls starters can stay even in the first quarter, knowing that their best scorer has yet to be seen.

Crikey, man. In the first seven games this year, the Bulls have been outscored in the first quarter by 29 points, a negative 4.1 differential. It's true that in their three wins, they've managed to stay even twice and even led once (against Phoenix) by 3.

But consider their losses. They lost to Boston by a deficit of 16, 11 of which came in the 1st. They lost by three to Orlando, and yet trailed by 10 after the first 12 min. Against Cleveland, they lost by 14, 6 of which came from their 1st quarter deficit. And though they did start Gordon in the second game against Cleveland, and lost that 1st quarter by 5, it should probably be noted that they were +2 after Aaron Gray took his much-deserved seat on the bench.

It's one thing if you're San Antonio and you have Tim Duncan and Tony Parker on the floor at the start of the game, and you therefore think bringing Manu off the bench is a bright idea. I don't necessarily think it is, but whatever, it's arguable. But when you are a team that struggles to score points--and you have a fucking two guard shooting fucking 49.5 fucking percent grabbing pine at the start--well, it's inexcusable. I'm sorry Hinrich got hurt (and I kinda hope we bring Darius Washington back...we could use a backup point who is good enough for 10 minutes a game, but not good enough to play any more than that), but since it's actually getting Gordon on the floor for the minutes he deserves, you've gotta say it's a blessing not even in disguise.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I'm Out For Presidents To Represent Me

(Say what?)

I'm out for black presidents to represent me.

And to keep the theme going, why in the hell is Tyrus Thomas suddenly playing basketball like he's John Frickin' McCain? With apologies to Matt, it wasn't only his TOs that demanded VDN bench him, but even more the fact that he apparently couldn't guard Rashard Lewis in transition if his life depended on it. The missed jump shots are one thing; he's taking too many maybe, but for the most part they haven't been forced. But to let Rashard Lewis absolutely embarrass you? Come on, Ty! We want to love you. I think even Vinny wants to love you. But you gotta love us back.