The Chicago Bulls figure to be one of the most intriguing teams of the 2014-15 season, a talented squad that shouldn't be worse than a solid playoff team and could possibly contend for a championship, depending on a few factors. The biggest of those variables figures to be the health and related effectiveness of point guard Derrick Rose, currently healthy after returning from the second of two consecutive season-ending knee injuries. After playing in only 10 games last season and failing to star in the FIBA World Cup of Basketball, Rose needs to prove he can return to his former status before the Bulls will be seen as members of the NBA's elite. That process will take some time, because Rose needs to excel for a prolonged period of time to turn back into an MVP candidate. For now, though, Rose is serving notice that he can play at an elite level when needed. In Monday night's exhibition game against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Columbus, Ohio, Rose looked like his old self with 30 points in (12-of-18 FG, 4-of-5 3FG) in just 24 minutes of play. Yet those numbers, while great, don't tell the full story. Rose had his characteristic burst of speed, regularly surging past defenders in both transition and halfcourt situations. Take a look at Rose exploiting some slow transition defense from the Cavs to earn an and-one via Kyrie Irving: Or beating everyone down the floor to do the same to Dion Waiters: Or confusing Irving for one of his trademark layups: Or even this nifty move to get open for a three-pointer: The Cavs took control in the second half to finish with a 107-98 win , but Rose's play was the biggest story of the night. It's only preseason, and he has much left to do. But Bulls fans can be forgiven for feeling a little more confident after this one. - - - - - - - Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter! Follow @FreemanEric
Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah has always found a sound balance between the frantic and ferocious nature of his game and off-court tranquility, though many have jokingly chalked that up to Joakim’s particular strain of recreational activities. The same cannot be said for Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who reportedly has very little in terms of a personal life outside of basketball, in between putting in marathon shifts and sometimes sleeping at the team’s practice facility. The secret to Noah’s success in keeping things outwardly chill? He won’t and shouldn’t give it the full credit, but apparently yoga helps quite a bit. And he’s convinced it would help with his volatile and single-minded coach. From an interview with Bill Schulz at the Daily Beast : Coach Thibodeau always looks like he’s on the verge of an aneurism. What, if anything, could you do to calm him down? He looks like that whether he’s happy or sad. But I’d have him do yoga with me. He could use that. What’s the most pissed off he’s ever been at you? He gets pissed off a LOT. But he never makes any clash we have public, and he calms me down a lot as well. He knows when to let me vent. I’d pay good money to see a sitcom starring you two as comically mismatched roommates. I don’t know if could watch that. I don’t know if I could watch that, either. I’d rather be watching the East’s best center and best coach take their odd coupling to the basketball court. I’m hardly an expert, but yoga does help. On days that I practice it, I feel less anxious, centered, sometimes more positive and definitely more focused than usual. Noah has such an unusual game with the physical demands of both a guard and a bruising big man that it only makes sense that he would start his day with an exercise that involves calming and physical activity. Perhaps coach Thibs would be well-served to join him in a session. Both are wonderfully intriguing cases as we head into 2013-14. Noah might be the son of a tennis legend (Yannick Noah, 1983 French Open winner), but he was hardly a basketball prodigy – a unique and self-taught player that had to work his way into high school and college prominence in ways that you would hardly call “orthodox.” From a snippet from Jonathan Abrams’ feature at Grantland : “I wasn’t pampered by the process,” Noah said. “A lot of these guys from a young age, especially when you’re a top player in your age group, you get a lot of people telling you how great you are. Everyone wants to be your friend. I never had that. I had to deal with that a little bit because of who my father was, but as a basketball player I didn’t have to deal with that.” Instead of competing at ABCD, Noah mopped and dried the courts and worked the hot dog stand while LeBron James, Sebastian Telfair, and other prep standouts hustled up and down the floor. “He was the cutest, most lovable, horrible basketball player I ever saw at that age,” [camp leader Sonny] Vaccaro said of Noah. “But he had this determination. He cleaned the floor. We called him the tennis guy.” “The tennis guy” turned out to be a major recruit for Florida University, where he went on to win two NCAA titles. That led to a gig with the Bulls, in what was thought to be an apprenticeship under former Defensive Player of the Year Ben Wallace. Wallace was not keen to instruct the excitable rook, though, and the two clashed. It took the acquisition of journeyman Brad Miller – just about Noah’s polar opposite – for things to click. By this time, Miller (who became fast friends with Joakim) was a master at high post passing, finding cutters and lanes when plays broke down, making others better with just the flick of the wrist. Offensively, Noah learned from Miller’s moves, leading to a near-historic batch of center-styled passing during the 2013-14 campaign. That season ended with a one-sided first round loss to the Washington Wizards, as the Bulls once again look to steel themselves for a long and arduous season that will no doubt come into contact with a LeBron James-led group during the playoffs. James’ teams have ended Noah’s seasons three times in the last five seasons, and the two are notoriously cold to one another. What matters in the months before that pairing, even if the two do play each other on Monday night in a meaningless exhibition game, is Noah’s health. He was playing on a knee that required surgery during Chicago’s 2014 playoff run, and he’s still recovering from what the team is calling an arthroscopic procedure (though the recovery time from such a procedure is usually far shorter than what the team listed over the summer and what Noah is working through right now). Joakim says that he’s improving, but this is a crucial year for his Bulls. New signee Pau Gasol is already 34, Noah turns 30 midway through the season, and the time to win is now. There is the fear that Noah’s legs and Tom Thibodeau’s big basketball brain – two assets that were put to the test with Derrick Rose missing nearly all of two seasons – might be reaching a straining point. That things might be fit for a collapse. An understandable collapse, but perhaps an unavoidable one. Maybe if Tom bought a mat and joined in a time or two, the Bulls could stretch this out. (Also, yeah, if you’re wondering, Joakim Noah still has other calming influences to turn to .) If a player tests positive for marijuana, the first penalty is an automatic four game suspension and mandatory counseling. Yet, the league now has TWO franchises in states where pot is legal: do players discuss this ridiculousness? Everybody sees the hypocrisy. To paraphrase Peter Tosh, if Illinois were to legalize it, would you advertise it? [ Smiles ] To quote Bob Marley: Time will tell. So, there’s that. I’ve only heard the Black Crowes version of that song, so I can’t possibly know what Joakim is referring to. - - - - - - - Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KDonhoops
Derrick Rose looked explosive as he scored 30 points on 12-of-18 shooting (including four threes) with five rebounds and three assists in just 24 minutes against the Cavs on Monday.
The Scoop:So much for Rose flying under the radar now. He did not have a steal or block and his non-scoring numbers weren't great, but the important part is that he had the same type of explosion we've seen in the past (including last preseason). With ADP around the turn between the second and third rounds, he's still a big time risk and it's uncertain what his ceiling will be playing on a team with strong complementary players.
Derrick Rose shot 3-of-9 from the field for 10 points with four rebounds, one assist, one 3-pointer and two turnovers.
The Scoop:He's been at 33.3 percent or lower in three of his five preseason games and clearly still has not found his shot. The good news is that he looks great out there with respect to his quickness and the rust is staring to come off. There are too many risks to grab him in the first three rounds of fantasy drafts.
Questions are rightfully being reviewed as to how, exactly, we should expect this team to handle its young superstars. Knockout, ready-to-contribute lottery performers are often given the run of the box-score minutes because their talents, and eventually their numbers, dictate as much. These players are also almost always 19 or 20 years old, working on a terrible squad with little help, and forced into big responsibilities right away. We’re not saying that humping in the high 30s minutes-wise is the reason Derrick Rose suffered two freak knee injuries or that Kevin Durant is on the pine with a scary stress fracture, but it’s worth wondering about. We doubt very much that Minnesota Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders cares about this as he enters his second stint running the team from the sidelines. He came to Minnesota to attempt to push a young team over the top over two years ago, just as he attempted to do in Washington a few years before, dealing and signing win-now talent in the hopes of keeping Kevin Love. The moves failed and Love forced a trade out of Minnesota, though, and the team was sent the last two No. 1 NBA draft picks in Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett as collateral. Rookie Zach LaVine is around, as is raw but promising (the former more than the latter, sadly) Gorgui Dieng and Shabazz Muhammad. The Timberwolves haven’t made the playoffs since their championship hopes fell due to injury in the spring of 2004, and this is the second time in recent memory that they had to unload a superstar – possibly too late in both instances. Both turnabouts were also hamstrung by the work of David Kahn in between the deals for Kevins Garnett and Love, as he turned the cap space and presence of Al Jefferson (taken from the KG deal) and frittered them away, while infuriating Love with his insulting contract offer to the stud, plus the terrible draft picks and deals, as the losses piled up. Kahn has been gone for two years now, but we’ve little idea as to whether or not Saunders and ostensible general manager Milt Newton will be a massive improvement. They lucked out in acquiring Wiggins and Bennett for Love, but only because a previously terrible Cavaliers organization lucked into drafting them – and that team may have blown the Bennett selection. After a coaching search that seemed dubious from the start, Saunders hired himself to run the team from the bench , a choice that was followed by a collective groan from NBA followers used to this sort of move failing badly. Beyond the clash of coaching/front office interests is the worry that Saunders’ offense is a bit outmoded in the paint/free throws/3-pointers-era of efficient NBA ball. The man likes his 19-footers, and he doesn’t exactly have the personnel to shoot them. This roster is a bit of a mess, but if Saunders and Newton are adept at dealing, this can be cleared up. The final four years and nearly $48 million left on Nikola Pekovic’s contract may not look as bad next summer, even if his defense puts a team in peril. Each of the team’s cornerstones are on (albeit large, for the former Cavs) rookie contracts, and even an eight-figure yearly deal potentially tossed Ricky Rubio’s way in the next two weeks doesn’t sound all that bad once you figure in projected future bumps to the salary cap. Holdovers signed by a giddy Saunders two years ago will complicate the cap picture next summer, though. Back to Wiggins. He’s raw, but he’ll get his reps. He’ll get his chance to shine, and he’ll get his chance to go 1-for-11 and worry all of us. With a hopefully happy Rubio running the show, the Timberwolves will be perfect League Pass fodder for all of us hoop nerds. They’ll also have the worst record in their conference.
A look around the league and the Web that covers it. It's also important to note that the rotation order and starting nods aren't always listed in order of importance. That's for you, dear reader, to figure out. C : ESPN the Magazine . The great Wright Thompson on Derrick Rose, whose "second mission begins now, and, as with the first one" — the mission to "escape his neighborhood and his old life," to buy his mom a new house, to "change the arc of his family" — the Chicago Bulls point guard "doesn't know how it will end." Brilliant stuff. PF : Nylon Calculus . More 3-pointers. A stylistic shift toward more free-flowing offense, plus fewer elite defenses dotting the landscape. Could it all lead to a new NBA record for league-wide offensive efficiency this season? SF : Ballerball . A bit of brake-pumping satire on how the advent of NBA jersey advertisements will ruin everything: "With this move, the NBA will slide further and further into oblivion, much like soccer, the world’s largest sport." SG : GordonHayward20.com . There are, as you might expect, quite a few gems in Jonathan Abrams' feature on Joakim Noah's come-up as "probably the most unprecedented success story in basketball in America," but my personal favorite comes from his high-school coach's description of Noah's college recruitment: "'And Duke was calling,' McNally said, 'but he didn’t really see himself as a Dukie.'" No, I'd imagine not. PG : RealGM . Danny Leroux looks at the completed deals involving 2015 NBA draft picks, and the protections in place on those selections, to try to determine which teams could find themselves compelled to take the foot off the gas late in the season — or, to use a more unkind descriptor, to tank — so they don't lose their pick. (We're looking at you, Sacramento.) 6th : NBA.com . The great David Aldridge's weekly Morning Tip column comes packed with enough good stuff — on how the NBA's new multibillion-dollar TV deal will impact contract negotiations , how the Minnesota Timberwolves are keeping No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins under wraps, how Stan Van Gundy divides his day as the Detroit Pistons' head coach and president of basketball operations, etc. — to last us a full week. 7th : Grantland . Kirk Goldsberry uses the NBA's SportVU optical tracking data to dig deep on rebounding direction, figuring out where missed shots taken from different parts of the court are most likely to end up, which has been a pretty popular topic at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference over the past couple of years. 8th : The Hook . Tom Ziller, longtime Sacramento Kings fan and confirmed Los Angeles Lakers hater, tries to figure out why exactly he doesn't hate Kobe Bryant anymore. 9th : The Triangle . Zach Lowe makes 33 predictions for the coming season, which makes for fun reading. 10th : Pounding the Rock . Lee Dresie recalls what it was like to coach against Gregg Popovich during his Division III days at Pomona-Pitzer, ages before he'd ascend to the ranks of the all-time greats through his work with the San Antonio Spurs: "The games were so loud that we had to call in plays and defenses by holding up pieces of cardboard with different colors or numbers on them because the players didn't have a chance of hearing us over the crowd." - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow BDL's Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more.
The Scoop:Rose shrugged off his coach's criticism, saying that he's "used to it," and he has a few more preseason games to get tuned up before the Bulls' regular-season opener. He's averaging 12.0 points on 39.4 percent shooting during the exhibition season, adding 1.3 triples, 3.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 0.7 steals in only 17.8 minutes per contest.
Derrick Rose hit just 4-of-12 shots but finished with 15 points, five rebounds and five assists in 21 minutes on Monday against the Nuggets.
The Scoop:Rose got to the line six times, making all of them, but he still doesn't look as sharp and confident as we're used to seeing. That's good news because the numbers have been there in the past two games and it still feels like he has a lot of room to improve. We'll see if the Rose hype train starts gaining steam after being relatively quiet recently.
Derrick Rose hit 5-of-10 shots and three 3-pointers for 16 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals in Saturday's win over the Bucks.
The Scoop:He played just 22 minutes and finally hit some shots. He's had a rough summer and preseason as he comes back from more knee surgery, but looked very good tonight. Rust and nights off are both concerns for Rose, but tonight's game was promising.
Oct 11 12:00 ET
News (various sources)
Timberwolves dominate Bucks in 110-91 win (The Associated Press) (1 Hours Ago | courtesy: The Associated Press) MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Shabazz Muhammad had 19 points and Nikola Pekovic tallied 15 points and 13 rebounds as the Minnesota Timberwolves cruised past the Milwaukee Bucks 110-91 on Wednesday. More...