Scouting the Opposition: Chicago Bulls

Friday, December 21, 2012
By Micah Hart

For every home game this season, we’ll be gathering some intel on the opposing team from someone who knows them best — a team employee, a rival blogger, beat writer or broadcaster.

For the Hawks’ home game Saturday against the Bulls, we reached out to Sam Smith, award-winning journalist and writer for, for his take on their team.

His answers are below: The big question on everyone’s mind is how is Derrick Rose progressing in his rehab from the knee injury he suffered in last year’s playoffs? What is the latest on when he might return?

Sam Smith: There is no timetable and the Bulls plan to be extra cautious considering this is the first season of Rose’s five-year contract. He is running and shooting, and the rehab is going well. But he likely will be out at least two more months, if not longer in the Bulls’ conservative approach. Without Rose, how much has the Bulls’ playing style had to change?

SS: The way they play is the same. They are a defensive oriented team that still plays an offense that is point guard oriented for making plays with a lot of movement. But they still run the same plays with an emphasis on pick and roll. Marquis Teague (younger brother of the Hawks’ Jeff Teague) wasn’t getting many minutes early on in his rookie season, but has seen increased playing time of late. How do you rate his performance so far?

SS: He only recently began to get playing time when Kirk Hinrich was out two games. He was a disappointment coming into the season with poor work habits in summer league. But he’s a very bright young man and quickly understood he wasn’t ready for the NBA. He’s worked hard at it and should begin to get more playing time as he’s done well organizing the offense and defending, which is the staple to stay on the court under coach Tom Thibodeau. Joakim Noah is off to a good start, averaging a double-double, but perhaps more impressively, is second on the team in assists. Is more of the offense running through him this season?

SS: Not really, but he has a lot of offensive options because especially in the high post defenders play off him. He’s a good passer, but he ends up with wide passing lanes because teams don’t respect his awkward looking shot, though he’s very good at it and has been shooting 80 percent on free throws this season. Do you see the Bulls being active in the trade market this season? Does their involvement depend on the likelihood of Rose’s comeback before season’s end?

SS: I do not see them being active. I think they see this season more about getting Rose back and seeing where he is and what he can do. So I don’t believe they want to make any major changes until they can determine where he fits back in and when.

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