Bulls shouldn't get carried away with their 4-0 start
Four games into the season, here's a little advice for the Bulls:
Stop trying so hard to promote Zach LaVine passing Michael Jordan on the team's career 3-point list. MJ barely attempted any 3-pointers until after his baseball break. When LaVine catches Kirk Hinrich for first place, that will be some legitimate news.
But trying to connect LaVine to Jordan right now makes the Bulls look like a team desperate for any sort of positive news. And, of course, that's exactly what they are.
So go ahead and celebrate the Bulls' first 4-0 start since 1996, but don't lose sight of the schedule-maker assist. The Bulls have beaten three teams (Detroit twice) that are not only expected to miss the playoffs this season, but were also missing one of their top players.
Realistically, the Bulls haven't done anything yet, although they'll get their chance soon. The schedule gets considerably tougher with home games this week against New York and Utah, a trip to Boston and Philadelphia, the Sixers, Nets and Mavs at home, then a challenging five-game West Coast trip. When that's done, they'll play five games in seven days.
A month from now, the Bulls could be well below .500, the talk of the NBA, or something in between. Here are some topics to watch as the competition gets tougher:
• The leader in field-goal attempts through four games is DeMar DeRozan. LaVine went from 19.4 shots per game to 17.5.
No big deal, the Bulls are a bunch of unselfish players who want to win. Things will probably even out in the long run and LaVine will appreciate the help. Then again, NBA players get the message from an early age that scorers get paid, and LaVine is in a contract year.
Shot distribution may never be an issue, but having talent on the floor is a new experience for the Bulls, so until it all works for a full season, it could conceivably not work.
• Heading into the season, the Bulls' small front line figured to be a concern. It has been, but not enough to cause a loss to an inferior team. Detroit piled up points in the paint against the Bulls, and Toronto outrebounded them 48-28.
In the next few weeks, the Bulls will have to deal with Julius Randle, Rudy Gobert and Joel Embiid twice. Not sure what the solution is here, besides making a trade, but other NBA teams have thrived while playing small.
• Speaking of the Bulls' front line, second-year forward Patrick Williams collected no rebounds in 26 minutes against Toronto. Williams missed most of training camp with an ankle injury, so maybe it's just a matter of getting back into basketball shape. If he doesn't improve from the current 6.8 points and 2.3 rebounds, that would be concerning.
• Will Monday's late-game blunders become a habit? The Bulls had been pretty good about taking care of the ball until nearly coughing up a late lead against the Raptors.
Maybe that was just a byproduct of having so many new faces on the roster. Blown leads happen to every NBA team, and the Bulls still hung on to win the game.
There are plenty of reasons for optimism as well. The defense has been surprisingly good, with Alex Caruso second in the league in steals. DeRozan has brought winning experience and it's rubbing off on LaVine and Lonzo Ball.
Will it work against good teams? Well, that's always the question, and all the Bulls really know right now is it's better to be 4-0 than 0-4. They've been there.