By Royce Strahan
After a week of preseason games for the Bulls, resulting in a 1-2 record, one thing is for sure: they ain’t ready.
The Bulls lone win in their first game of the preseason deceived many fans until the 4th quarter, when the team went 1-21 from the field and only scored 11 points in route to a 92-88 victory.
Luol Deng scored 18 points in the game and Nazr Mohammed surprised everyone with a 13 points and 12 rebounds performance.
After the first game, it was obvious that the Bulls’ bench was nowhere close to having the chemistry of the Bench Mob from the previous two years.
In the second and third games, the Bulls lost to a team that only had 21 wins last season in the Cleveland Cavaliers and a Minnesota Timberwolves squad that was without its stars Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio.
Even though the three first games haven’t been pretty, a few players have stood out who could play a major part in making the bench stronger. Kirk Hinrich and Nazr Mohammed have both played better than expected, putting together runs where they kept the Bulls energized and close to their opponents.
“Kirk knows how to play,” Bulls guard Rip Hamilton said. “He really, really makes my job easy. When I run up the floor he tries to get me the ball early so I can try to make a play for myself or one of my teammates. He’s smart, man. He’s one of them guys that really knows how to play and makes my job easy.”
While Hinrich is impressing teammates with his court vision, Nazr Mohammed is proving to be valuable alternative to former Bulls backup center Omer Asik in front of his hometown.
Mohammed, a 14-year veteran, was previously thought to be a downgrade from Omer Asik, but has put in impressive numbers and energy to put fans at ease.
“We feel good about Nazr,” said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau in an interview with Comcast Sports Net. “Nazr’s played very well so far. He’s got good size, he’s got experience, he goes to the offensive boards very hard and he has the ability to make the 15-footer, so it’s another way for us to go also.”
Coach Thibodeau won’t tolerate a few impressive individual performances without the team developing chemistry. The coach expressed his displeasure with the bench and is looking to tighten up in areas before the beginning of the season.
“We have a long way to go,” Thibodeau said. “It’s on both sides of the ball. The (reserves) are capable of much better. And they’re going to have to do it.
“What we have to be careful of is everyone says you’re new, it’s preseason. Then they say we’ll get it when we get to the regular season. Then you get there and they’ll say we need a month. After that, they’ll say we need to Christmas. Before you know it, the season is over and you never get it.”
For now, we can put the “Bench Mob” name on ice until the Bulls’ second-string players can gel. Hopefully by the middle of the season we won’t be depending on Derrick Rose to come back to get us to a winning record.
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