As shown in Saturday’s preseason opening win over the Indiana Pacers, Derrick Rose’s presence on the floor puts consistent pressure on defenses as well as creates numerous opportunities for his teammates that weren’t present last season. While there were some dazzling moments where the offense synced, there were some stagnant and putrid moments that are common of preseason and also show that there will still be an adjustment period for the point guard and his teammates to get acclimated with one another again.
For Jimmy Butler, his transition to Rose might be the biggest as he’s now starting alongside him after only shared the floor with him in limited minutes during his rookie season and obviously none at all last season.
Butler was impressive in attacking the rim, finishing with 11 points – going 9-of-12 from the free throw line – pulling down six rebounds, collecting three steals in under 30 minutes of action. Along with his aggressiveness in attacking the rim, he also pushed the ball up the floor several times in transition and seemed completely comfortable in doing so after preferring to wait to give the ball up to Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson last season.
“Jimmy doesn’t force the game,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He attacks, gets to the free throw line. His speed and strength, he’s going to get to the line because of the way he attacks. He’s going to draw fouls. That’s a big plus for us. He’s going to guard, move with and without the ball. That’s going to make you a lot better.”
With Butler now comfortable being able to bring the ball up the floor as well as push it in transition, it allows for less ball-handling duties for Rose. But even with less of a burden in having to facilitate all of the offense as well as generate a majority of it, everything still has Rose’s imprint on it.
“He’s always telling me that “you can dribble, you can handle, come off ball screens.” He got on my case [Saturday] for passing up few shots,” Butler said of Rose.” That’s big for me because that’s telling me that he has confidence in my jump shot. That’s huge but he’s constantly helping me get better and getting used to the things that I didn’t do last year.
“(Playing with Rose makes it) a lot easier, knowing that we have three guys that can bring the ball up the floor. We can switch on the defensive end, guys can get to the paint, kick out and make shots.
While he did pass up some looks – shooting just 1-of-4 from the field and only basket coming on a dunk in transition – it was a good first step for the third-year man out of Marquette.
“I do have to tell myself (to be more aggressive),” Butler said. “I shouldn’t have to rely on my teammates to tell me. I know better. Its preseason, we’re getting into the rhythm of everything. I feel like when the season gets here, I’ll know where I’m getting my shots from.
When Joakim Noah returns to the lineup, it only gives the Bulls another option to run the offense through as he did showcased last season to the tune of a career and All-Star season.
“I feel like whenever we get into a rhythm and everyone gets used to playing with each other again, we’re going to be a force to be reckoned with.”