Derrick Rose gave the hometown faithful a show in Wednesday’s win over the Detroit Pistons, putting up 22 points in 22 minutes and showing the aggressive, physical drives to the rim that are commonplace to him. But while United Center fans were busy cheering every time the point guard touched the ball, they were missing the quiet rookie Tony Snell enjoy his best performance this preseason.
Snell contributed 12 points, four assists and 3 steals. Owner of possibly the most fluid release on the team, his shot has appeared shaky thus far in preseason play, but his found his stroke against Detroit, knocking down two of his four three-point attempts and finishing 5-of-8 from the field.
The rookie entered the game shooting just 2-for-13 and even with him struggling on offense, he said his focus has been on the consistency of his defense because he knows his shot will eventually fall if he keeps shooting. His confidence in his shot never waivered but his game-winning shot against Washington in Rio last Saturday gave him a light boost. His concentration on defense is the best mindset to have if he hopes to earn consistent playing time this season backing up Jimmy Butler.
“I feel I’m more comfortable out there,” he said. “I’m learning the system. I feel great. [My teammates] just told me to keep shooting the ball. Eventually I would find my shot. So I just kept shooting and I found it.”
Thibodeau rarely showers praise on rookies and was too concerned with the Bulls being outscored 28-20 in the fourth quarter to properly asses Snell’s performance.
The rookie has spent a lot of time in the weight room adding bulk to his frame and the physicality of the Bulls training camp has helped him adjust to the speed and physicality of the pro game.
“It’s a little slower now. It’s still fast-paced, but I guess I’m in shape now,” Snell said. “I feel great. I’m in the weight room and [the game] just started to slow down for me a little bit.