Never has any of Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau clichés or focuses of the game proven true than during the Bulls 1-2 record to begin the season.
“You can’t miss an entire training camp. You can’t miss 10 days of training camp,” Thibodeau said after the Bulls surrendered a 20-point lead to the athletic and overachieving Philadelphia 76ers in Saturday's 107-104 loss. “You can’t do that. You can’t. The games are coming. They’re coming fast. We have to change quickly and get it right. We need to practice together. That’s the issue right now.”
As good as Derrick Rose looked in the preseason, the fact that the starting unit got very little time to get (re) acclimated with one another was a big issue, with Joakim Noah not being able to do much because of a sore groin and Jimmy Butler missing subsequent time with a left knee contusion. Even with the three of the starters having had ample time with Rose, there is an adjustment period that was supposed to be sorted out during training camp and preseason that never got the chance to transpire, and we’re seeing the kinks being worked out now.
The team ran a lot of offense through Noah last season. Kirk Hinrich was also the starting point guard and there's a clear difference in having a player of Rose's caliber running the team. Jimmy Butler is also adjusting to a new role in being on the floor with the starters.
Rose has struggled so far with his shot, speed and finishing at the rim, surprising because of how well all of those attributes looked the last four games of the preseason. He’s shooting just 28 percent and 26 percent on 3-pointers. He’s also second in the league in turnovers so far at 5.7 per game. He has openly warned that a breakthrough game is coming and you has usually backed up what he's said.
As a unit, the struggles are worse. The Bulls are shooting just 42.9 percent from the field. They’re ranked last in 3-point percentage at 23.2 and allowing the third worse 3-point shooting percentage at .470 while teams are converting 10.3 per game.
Remember, it’s only been three games. While these numbers are putrid, they’re easily rectifiable.
“Of course you’re disappointed because you’re [not] winning games,” Rose told reporters after the loss to the Sixers. “But at the same time, we can only control what we can control, and that’s working hard every day and just trying to become a better team. It’s early in the season. It’s only three games. But like I said, we’re totally disappointed in us losing the two games. But the only thing we can do from it is learn from it and keep working hard."
And you can be assured they will work as Thibodeau not being happy with what he’s seen thus far is a given on most nights, even in wins. It’s something completely different when everyone in the locker room is disappointed in their individual and collective efforts.
So while they haven’t shot out of the gates like most would’ve expected after an undefeated preseason record, there’s still an adjustment period that’s only going to be worked through during games and more practice and studying film. Knowing Thibodeau, none of which of those will be an issue.