Davis believes Bulls will be just fine without Rose

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Davis believes Bulls will be just fine without Rose

While its still early in the NBA season, there have been many surprises and one of the big ones has been the Orlando Magic.

Coming into Tuesday nights game against the Bulls, Orlando led the league in three-point field goal percentage (.538), was second in scoring (108) and had won their first two games by a margin of 17 points.

After losing franchise cornerstone, Dwight Howard, along with coach Stan Van Gundy and general manager Otis Smith, most believed the Magic would be one of the worst teams in the league, if not the worst.

Leading the way for them has been Glen Big Baby Davis, who is averaging a team-high 25 points and nine rebounds per game.

While those numbers may catch many off guard, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau isnt one of them, having coached and seen Davis mature during his time as an assistant coach with the Boston Celtics.

It doesnt surprise me, Thibodeau said of Davis production. Hes shown throughout his career hes more than capable. Hes been in a number of big games before. Hes started games, come off the bench. There was the one season in Boston where Kevin Garnett got hurt, Davis started and scored big. So I know how good he is as a player.

The Magic fell to the Bulls 99-93 Tuesday, but Davis finished with a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds.

He credits his time in Boston for helping shape the player he is today, and credits Thibodeau with helping shape the mindset hes developed.

Just the mentality of perfection, said Davis. You cant be perfect but you can strive to be perfect. He did that in everything he did. Defensively, from the way he approached the game, long hours and nights of watching film on tendencies of players, what to do and what not to do.

"You pick that up as a youngster if you want to do well and if you want to succeed. Just his ins and outs of the game, especially after winning that championship in 2008, to see how good we were defensively because of his mentality and the way he approached every game. I learned a lot from him.

Its in knowing Thibodeaus mentality and pursuit of perfection why Davis doesnt see the Bulls being far from where they have been the past two years. Even without having Derrick Rose for most of the season.

I dont see them taking a step back, says Davis. I just see guys on their team having to step up. Guys just have to do a little bit more because Derrick Rose did a lot for that team. Guys like Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah are guys that can really play the game at a high level.

"They have to do a little bit more to get wins. With Thibodeaus mindset, theyre going to play defense, but on the offensive end, knowing how to score and finding a way to score without Rose, theyre going to have to play as a team.

Whether or not Davis and the Magic can continue building on an impressive start remains to be seen. And when asked on that thought, Davis echoes phrases derived straight from the mind of Thibodeau.

Im just looking forward to taking things one day at a time and making sure that I walk the walk.

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Now what? Jon Lester driven to deliver more World Series titles to Chicago

Now what? Jon Lester driven to deliver more World Series titles to Chicago

MESA, Ariz. — Now what? Ryan Dempster believes these Cubs are young enough, hungry enough and talented enough to become the first group to win back-to-back World Series since the three-peat New York Yankees built a dynasty with titles in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000.

But Dempster already understands the expectations at Wrigley Field this season, especially after pitching on disappointing Cubs teams that got swept out of the playoffs and working as a special assistant in Theo Epstein's front office.

"Nothing can top it," Dempster said. "You can win 162 games and sweep everybody in the playoffs and it won't be as exciting for people, other than maybe the guys playing it."

That's why Jon Lester isn't putting up the "Mission Accomplished" banner at his locker, even though the Cubs had the parade down Michigan Avenue in mind when they gave him the biggest contract in franchise history at the time. Dempster — who also earned a World Series ring with the 2013 Boston Red Sox — had given Lester a scouting report as the Cubs went all-out in their pursuit of the big-game lefty.

There are still four years left on Lester's $155 million megadeal. It has been less than five months since the Cubs finally won the World Series and unleashed an epic celebration.

"Now the hard part is you don't get complacent," Lester said Wednesday after throwing six innings against an Oakland A's minor-league squad at the Sloan Park complex. "I talk about these young guys — that's where that helps. Even though you've accomplished things personally, you still want these guys to accomplish things.

"That's where that drive still gets you. You don't want to let your teammates down. You still want to be accountable for what you do. And that means showing up and doing your work in between starts and in the offseason."

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Lester believed so much in Epstein's vision, the pipeline of talent about to burst and the lure of Chicago that he signed with a last-place team. The Cubs needed a symbol to show they were serious about winning, a clubhouse tone-setter and an anchor for their rotation.

A new comfort level in Year 2 of that contract helped explain how Lester performed as an All Star, a Cy Young Award finalist and the National League Championship Series co-MVP. But Lester wants to make sure that the Cubs don't get too comfortable — or feel like they're playing with house money.

"You enjoy that, you learn from it," Lester said. "The biggest thing is not getting complacent with yourself and with your teammates. That's what drives me, making sure I'm prepared to pitch.

"I'm called upon every five days, and I have to be there. That's where that goal of 30 starts and 200 innings comes into play. I feel like if I do that, then I've done my job, for my teammates and this organization.

"The championships and the World Series — that's stuff you can't predict. It's stuff you strive to do every single year. So that's all we're going to focus on again. Our team goal again is to win a World Series."