5 Things We Learned About Chicago Bulls During First Week of Training Camp
The first week of training camp was interesting for the Chicago Bulls.
Of course, Derrick Rose stole all the attention and will continue to do so for the rest of the season. When you're a superstar who missed an entire year recovering from ACL surgery, you're going to receive a lot of attention. That's just how it goes.
Chicago looked good during their first preseason game, beating the rival Indiana Pacers, 82-76, on the road. Sure, it was just an exhibition game and not Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Yet, it was still a nice victory.
Bulls starting guard Jimmy Butler showcased improved ball-handling and was extremely aggressive, getting to the free-throw line several times. And the team's defense was on point, just like it always is when coach Tom Thibodeau is on the sideline.
What are a few other things we learned about during the opening week of training camp?
Kalin Lucas and Patrick Christopher Weren't Bulls for Long
Prior to training camp, the Bulls signed six free agents to non-guaranteed contracts. Two of these guys, guards Kalin Lucas and Patrick Christopher, were cut within only a few days of camp.
Lucas is the most well-known of the duo. The 2009 Big Ten Player of the Year led Michigan State to the national championship game during his sophomore year. Meanwhile, Christopher was a two-time All-Pac-10 first teamer during his days at California.
Both players went undrafted and spent last season in Turkey.
Although Lucas and Christopher were long shots to make the regular-season roster, it would've been nice to see then play at least one game. Oh well, maybe they'll catch on with other NBA teams at some point.
The Bulls roster currently consists of 12 players who have fully or partially guaranteed contracts. Remaining camp invitees Mike James, Dahntay Jones, Dexter Pittman and D.J. White will duke it out for the final roster spot.
Tom Thibodeau Raved About Jimmy Butler
Apparently, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is impressed with swingman Jimmy Butler. According to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, "Thibs" had this to say about "Jimmy Buckets:"
Jimmy is very deceiving. He's an excellent athlete, very explosive, very quick to the ball. That tells you how he sees the game. His reaction to the ball is special. He's very quick, strong, can think ahead, very strong.
Butler has come a long way, going from a little-used rookie two years ago to the starting shooting guard this season. Expect him to have a breakout 2013-14 campaign, as his defense continues to suffocate opponents and his offense improves.
Taj Gibson Looks Like an All-Star
During the preseason opener versus the Indiana Pacers, Taj Gibson looked like an elite power forward rather than a reserve.
The fifth-year pro recorded a game-high 18 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks while hitting eight of his 12 field-goal attempts. Plus, he showcased a much-improved jump shot.
Gibson appears much stronger, and that will surely help him play more minutes at center behind Joakim Noah.
Boozer is the Bulls' starting power forward right now, but that could change later on if Gibson has a monster season.
Mike Dunleavy Was a Fantastic Pickup
Although the Bulls lost a quality bench player this summer in Nate Robinson, they picked up a great free agent with the signing of Mike Dunleavy.
Shooting is the main reason Dunleavy was brought to town. The Bulls ranked just 21st in three-point shooting last season and needed someone to replace Kyle Korver. Dunleavy is definitely that guy. But shooting isn't the only thing he brings to the table; he can also pass the rock.
Against the Indiana Pacers, Dunleavy dished out three assists, showcasing his point-forward skills. He set up Taj Gibson nicely for a thunderous slam.
Mike D will serve as a valuable role player all season long for Chicago, no doubt about it.
Derrick Rose Was Impressive in His First Game Back
Bulls fans waited nearly 18 months to see Derrick Rose return to the hardwood. Let's just say no one was disappointed, as he proved he was the same player he was before the injury.
Taking on the Pacers, Rose scored 13 points, dished out three assists and stole the ball twice. He still possesses blinding speed and appeared to be unafraid of contact, going up strong against Pacers center Roy Hibbert and Co.
Rose, of course, was a little rusty, shooting 5-of-12 from the field and committing four turnovers. However, he'll shake the rust off as the preseason progresses. It will just take a little time.