Bulls Very Much a Work in Progress

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Bulls Very Much a Work in Progress

Monday, November 2nd

by Mark Schanowski
CSNChicago.com

So what do you think of the Bulls' play in the opening week of the NBA season? We'd love to see your comments in the section below, or feel free to drop me an e-mail.

Here's a few things I've observed. It's pretty obvious the Bulls won't be able to win consistently without a healthy Derrick Rose in the line-up. Derrick insists his pre-season ankle injury is not the reason for his slow start. He says he just needs to work on his conditioning and find the rhythm in his offensive game. But watching Rose play in the first three regular season games, you can see he doesn't have his trademark quickness and explosive first step on drives to the basket. Derrick is one of the best finishing point guards in the game, but he's missed a lot of shots he normally would make. Rose has been able to get past his defender, but hasn't exploded to the basket like he did last season. Once Derrick is 100 healthy again, the Bulls' offense will instantly be better.

Joakim Noah's summer work has paid off. Noah's improved strength and conditioning has allowed him to tirelessly work the backboards on both ends, and so far, he's been the Bulls' best player. He's definitely capable of averaging double figures in points and rebounds, and better equipped to battle other NBA big men for position under the basket. Noah's also showed an improved ability to finish on close range shots in the lane, but his jump shot still looks pretty funky. The Bulls' center position is better than it's been in a long time with Noah, Brad Miller and overseas prospect Omer Asik, a 7-footer from Turkey who should join the team next summer.

The Bulls' coaches still don't have complete faith in Tyrus Thomas. Tyrus got the quick hook in the season opener against San Antonio, and he only played 20 minutes during Sunday's game in Miami. Vinny Del Negro said he wanted to go with a small line-up and more shooters against the Heat, but it still left Tyrus on the bench, wondering about his future with the team. While other NBA teams extended the contracts of their high draft picks from the '06 draft, the Bulls chose to let Thomas play out his deal and become a restricted free agent next summer. That decision alone speaks volumes on what they think of Thomas' future in Chicago.

Luol Deng should have a big season. With Ben Gordon now in Detroit, there are a lot more shots available in the Bulls' offense, and Deng will get a lot of them. He scored 17 points on opening night, and led all scorers with 26 points against the Heat. Even more encouraging than the numbers is Luol driving hard to the basket again, and finishing with a dunk on the fast break. Those are the kind of plays that will allow Deng to average in the 17 to 20 point range this season.

Right now, Vinny and his staff have to settle on a consistent playing rotation and figure out the best way to get open looks for a jump shooting team. The schedule is daunting during the month of November, so don't get too hung up on wins and losses. Look for good ball movement on offense and improved rotations on defense. Those are 2 of the keys to the Bulls making it back to the playoffs next spring.

I'll see you from the United Center with Kendall Gill for live pre-game reports Tuesday during SportsNite at 6:30 before the Bulls-Bucks game on Comcast SportsNet at 7:00.

Mark Schanowski hosts our Bulls pre and post game studio coverage with 15-year NBA veteran Kendall Gill. You can also watch Mark on SportsNite Sunday through Thursday at 6:30 and 10.

Kendall Gill, Ice Cube give their predictions for Mayweather-McGregor

Kendall Gill, Ice Cube give their predictions for Mayweather-McGregor

This story originally appeared on Big3.com. Hear from Kendall and Ice Cube as they give their opinions on the Aug. 26 fight in the video above.

Timing really is everything.

When I went to Las Vegas for the BIG3 combine and draft back in April, I liked my chances. Sure, I was one of the oldest guys there, but my training as a boxer (I fought professionally after my NBA days) keeps me in great shape.

So I was pretty shocked when I didn’t get drafted.

I tried to be positive about it. I figured maybe the man upstairs was saying, “Just sit tight. I gotta put you on the right team.”

So there I was, sparring in the gym the other day. I get out of the ring and there’s a text waiting for me from Corey Maggette, asking me if I want to play for Power.

He didn’t have to ask twice!

Next thing I know, I’m getting a call from Power’s coach, Hall of Famer Clyde Drexler. I looked up to Clyde my whole career, looked at him as a big brother. To play for him in the BIG3 is the perfect scenario.

So it was great to be in Philadelphia last Sunday and help Power defeat the Ghost Ballers in my BIG3 debut. I thoroughly enjoyed playing with Cuttino Mobley, DeShawn Stevenson, Jerome “Junkyard Dog” Williams and Paul McPherson.

I was a bit rusty on the offensive side, but my defense -- which has been a staple for me throughout my career -- my rebounding, passing, that was all on point. I found Cuttino and DeShawn for a couple of shots when we forced them to double-team down on me. I had Mike Bibby on me in the post, and they knew that he probably couldn’t guard me down there.

So it was a pretty good first day. Now that I’ve got that under my belt, here comes the fun part. Everybody was excited when I was finally added to a team, and when they found out we were playing in Chicago they got twice as excited. When I got off the plane from Philadelphia on Monday, I had about 50 messages waiting for me – friends and family asking for tickets to the UIC Pavilion for Sunday’s games.

And since I work Chicago Bulls games for CSN Chicago, the network is excited, too. They want to mic me up and follow me around for the day, go behind the scenes. Radio stations have been calling me for interviews about the BIG3 coming to Chicago. It’s exciting. But when it comes time to play, I’ve got to forget about all that and go out there and play.

A lot of people think I’m biased because I was born and raised here, and still live in Chicago, but if you look at the number of pro players that we’ve produced, there’s really nowhere else that can compare to Chicago as a basketball town. You look at all the number one picks in the draft. Look at the top five picks in the NBA Draft throughout history. I think you’d have to say Chicago is probably the number one producer of NBA players – and college basketball players for that matter.

Only a few fortunate kids make it up the ranks to college and the pros. For most kids growing up in Chicago, at least basketball can be an important recreational activity that helps keep them off the streets and out of trouble. But there’s so much more we can do. When I was preparing for the BIG3 draft, I was practicing with Arne Duncan, President Obama’s Secretary of Education. Duncan, who has played competitive 3-on-3 with USA Basketball, is doing some great work with underprivileged kids in Chicago.

For my part, I donated a home in Champaign-Urbana (home of my alma mater, the University of Illinois). It’s the Cunningham Children’s Home and it helps disadvantaged kids in the region. We just had our annual golf tournament last week. We’ve been doing it for 28 years and have raised more than $1 million for the home.

While Arne Duncan is doing great work with Chicago youth, I’m grateful for the work he put in with me on the basketball court. He showed me a lot about how to cut, do a lot of pick and rolls away from the ball. In 3-on-3, those aspects of the game are very undervalued. Some guys have a tendency to play too much one-on-one, which I saw in some of the other games I was watching Sunday. The 3-on-3 game is very easy if you do it right, like we did. I think that’s why we won that game. We did a lot of cuts, and it worked well for us.

So after the disappointment of not being drafted, I’m thrilled to be where I am now – playing for a Power squad that is 3-1 and looking good for the playoffs. Which got me to thinking…

I really love boxing – not just training and sparring myself, but watching it. Boxing is the sweet science.

If we are fortunate enough to make it to Las Vegas for the BIG3 championship game on August 26, there just happens to be a pretty big boxing match taking place that night, right down the road. You may have heard:  Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor.

Personally, I don’t think McGregor has a chance. I’ve seen Floyd train in person and I’ve seen all his fights at least 10 times. He’s one of the greatest fighters to ever live. Now a guy who has no boxing experience whatsoever is going to get into the ring with him? Not happening.

But it’s gonna be an event. Believe me, I’m planning to buy the Pay-Per-View.

Unless I’m in Vegas that day and get to see it in person. You know, right after we win the BIG3 title.

Wake-up Call: Rose returning to Chicago?; Willson Contreras takes over; State of Cubs-Cards

Wake-up Call: Rose returning to Chicago?; Willson Contreras takes over; State of Cubs-Cards

Here are the top Chicago sports stories from Thursday: 

Is #TheReturn getting a reboot? Report says there's a possibility Derrick Rose comes back to Bulls

This is becoming Willson Contreras' team, whether or not Cubs add Alex Avila or another veteran catcher

Bears training camp preview: 3 burning questions for tight ends

Why Blackhawks fans might want to tap the brakes on Alex DeBrincat

That escalated quickly: Cubs just a game back of Brewers, could be in first place as soon as this weekend

Ping-pong balls everywhere: Where do the Bulls rank among projected lottery teams?

Joe Maddon's prime-time message: 'Help or die'

Report: Derrick Rose is considering teaming up with LeBron James, Cavs

Cubs Talk Podcast: State of Cubs-Cardinals rivalry and what lies ahead

Why Adam Engel came up with his unique batting stance, and how he's tweaked it since