Through the early stages of the Chicago Bulls' preseason, a few players have produced some intriguing stat lines.
Chicago is off to a 3-0 start, and it's been primarily the backups who have shined.
Taj Gibson has arguably been the best player this preseason, showing off his new offensive skills and maintaining his strong defensive presence.
Kirk Hinrich is putting forth a great effort, scoring efficiently, and could be one of the key reserves for the Bulls. As Derrick Rose's backup, if Hinrich can perform at a high level, it will help take some pressure off the former MVP.
For the starters, Luol Deng has stood out the most. He's the second-leading scorer and is stuffing the stat sheet on a nightly basis.
Are these players' numbers so far indicative of what's to come?
50.0% FG, 60.0% 3PT, 9.7 PPG, 4.7 RPG
Kirk Hinrich's shooting percentages jump right off the screen.
After shooting under 40 percent from the floor and behind the arc last year, Hinrich's improving numbers fare well for a second unit that could be lacking some firepower.
Keeping these numbers across the remaining preseason games and over the course of a full season is improbable, but it goes to show that the 11-year veteran can still get it done and is getting better looks than before.
Hinrich's rebounding has been an added bonus. His 4.7 average so far puts him nearly two rebounds ahead of his career rate.
Since he'll likely play two positions during the regular season, the fact that he can rebound from either guard spot should help the Bulls retain their advantage on the boards even when Jimmy Butler exits the game.
Barring any major injuries, Captain Kirk will be one of the main contributors off Chicago's bench.
32.3% FG, 40.0% 3PT, 14.0 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 20-of-28 FT
As one of the standouts during the Bulls' preseason, Luol Deng is showing some aggressive play and is shooting the ball relatively well.
Deng's field-goal percentage isn't very good, but he's made two out of five threes, which will help Chicago going forward as they try to open up the floor with Rose.
The biggest change in Deng has been his free-throw shooting. Through three games, he's gotten to the line an average of 9.3 times per game.
After averaging just 3.8 attempts last season, Deng could be in line for one of his most efficient seasons if he can keep attacking and drawing contact.
With Rose back in the lineup, the Bulls could potentially become a top-10 free-throw shooting team, a category in which they ranked 19th throughout the 2012-13 season.
If Deng can keep playing this style of basketball, a third All-Star appearance could be possible. More importantly, he could earn himself a long-term extension during the offseason.
70.0% FG, 17.0 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 2.6 BPG
The Bulls' best player during the preseason has been Taj Gibson.
His offense is leaps and bounds ahead of last year's, and it has shown in his jump shot and his post-up game.
Gibson's 70-percent shooting probably won't hold up, but it wouldn't be too far-fetched to predict a 50-plus-percent shooting season for 2013-14.
Offensive rebounding has also been a strong point as he's averaging three per game. He has nine offensive boards to 17 defensive.
Defensively, the 28-year-old might be at his best. In the opener against the Indiana Pacers, Gibson blocked three shots and consistently challenged shots.
Two contests later, the Bulls' forward tallied four blocks, including a late fourth-quarter rejection that kept Chicago in the lead as the clock wound down.
Gibson might be Chicago's most improved player. If his offense continues to flourish, he'll no longer be known as just a defensive stopper.
Contributions from the Bulls' role players and All-Stars will help them on their way to a deep playoff run.
Luol Deng will play a big part in the offense and will most likely be their second or third-leading scorer. Attacking the paint will boost his scoring and help the Bulls control the pace of the game.
While he may not average nine attempts from the line through an entire season, anywhere from five to seven trips per game would drastically improve an offense that struggles scoring the ball at times.
Gibson could potentially be Chicago's X-factor.
His offensive game has never been this good, and since Tom Thibodeau likes playing him late in games for defensive purposes, the Bulls wouldn't lose much on their possessions with Carlos Boozer on the sideline.
A strong bench can often give a team the upper hand in the postseason, and Hinrich and Gibson are a big part of that second unit.
It's still early in the preseason, but this small glimpse at what some of the roster's key players can do is a promising start to a highly anticipated season.
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