Before the start of the season, everyone wrote this game off. No consequences. Easy win for the Bulls. The Hornets would be awful. Boring game with no intensity.
But oh how wrong everyone was, and what a game to watch. Nobody expected this game to be one of the most talked about games from the opening week of the season.
All in all, even though the Bulls were outright favourites and lost a 10-point lead with 4 minutes to go to the Hornets, who have been widely considered the worst team in the league, there were plenty of positives for both teams.
Before anything else, I think Charlotte has proven that everyone has been horrendously underrating their young core. I speak on behalf of NBA fans when I say that Charlotte are no longer clearly the worst team in the league. It’s only one game…but the Hornets are looking really good.
The win was largely helped by an incredible 3-point shooting display, with the team going 23/44 (52.3%), only 3 3’s off the NBA record set by the Rockets. Obviously, the trio of P.J. Washington (7/11), Marvin Williams (5/7) and Devonte’ Graham (6/7) won’t likely be shooting those kinds of numbers anytime soon, but they have proven that the team’s ceiling is a lot higher than previously thought.
Let’s start off with P.J. Washington. Flying under most people’s radars having been drafted to “the worst team in the league”, but this has obviously proven beneficial for the young gun, and he looks to already be one of the best players on the team, looking incredibly comfortable on the court. He looks like he will force himself into the Rookie of the Year conversation, and at Pick 12, he looks to be an absolute steal.
He is 100% on the league’s radar now.
Also exceeding all expectations is Devonte’ Graham, who is already looking like a better franchise Point Guard than Terry Rozier. Graham played an incredibly efficient game, with 23 points off 7/9 from the field, 8 assists, 4 rebounds, 1 turnover and a +14 box plus/minus. His game was so smooth and his flow with the team was clearly paying dividends. This bloke is my super early pick for both Most Improved and 6th Man, keep this man on your ‘Ones to Watch’ list.
The rest of the Hornets team also looked very comfortable out on the floor and are most likely looking to prove all the doubters and critics wrong. Cody Zeller looked great at Centre, providing solid pick and roll offence and some great highlight plays. Williams as mentioned before was prolific with 5/7 from 3 off the bench, and other young guns Miles Bridges and Dwayne Bacon look to have both improved and matured over the offseason, and are looking fantastic in the starting 5.
Unfortunately, Terry Rozier is looking like the league’s worst offseason signing already. Rozier did not really contribute in this game, and he was easily Charlotte’s worst player on the court. I’m seriously hoping for some improvement, surely it can’t be THAT hard. But in summary, I’m definitely keen to see how the Hornets build upon this great start to the season.
Switching over to the Bulls, although it was a loss they definitely could’ve avoided, there are a lot of positives for them to build upon. It’s just unfortunate that Charlotte shot incredibly well for this particular game.
Let’s start with Lauri Markkanen, posting a monstrous 35 points and 17 rebounds to start his 3rd season with the Bulls. He honestly reminded me of a young Dirk Nowitzki, fantastic both in the paint and on the perimeter (if you take away the 1/7 3-point shooting). I think Lauri is going to be one of the best Power Forwards in the league over the rest of his career, and his talent was on full display. The Bulls will definitely look to design their offence around him.
A really good sign was the leadership and unselfishness displayed by Zach LaVine, who looks to be elevating his game in an intangible sense. At the young age of 24 and going into his 6th season, he is clearly the captain of this team, and he looked to get his whole team going throughout the entire game. LaVine should look to take the ball into his own hands and go to the elite level that he is capable of more often.
The native Chicagoan and rookie Coby White looked incredibly comfortable coming off the bench and had a very respectable night out with 17 points and 7 assists. He showed why he was one of the most highly touted guards of his draft class. Moreover, new recruit Thad Young also had an efficient night, also scoring 17 points off 7/11 shooting. He looks to have slotted into the team incredibly well, and will no doubt be an important piece coming off the bench.
What is interesting is that the Bulls are choosing to play Kris Dunn a lot, giving him 24 minutes of game time. The front office is clearly looking to increase his trade stock, and Dunn did just that with 11/2/2 and was very solid on defence with 4 steals.
There is one thing Chicago needs to build upon however, and that is their defence. Clearly Charlotte had it way too easy on the night, and this is a glaring hole for the Bulls who have such an offensively charged roster. Wendell Carter Jr. needs to really impose himself more on defense if Chicago are even going to be a chance at making the Playoffs.
- Devonte’ Graham early MIP and 6th man candidate;
- P.J. Washington ROTY sleeper;
- Terry Rozier proving he is one of the league’s most overpaid “stars”;
- Charlotte have a lot of quality shooters;
- Zach LaVine to transcend into leadership role;
- Lauri Markkanen = Dirk Nowitzki 2.0;
- Kris Dunn’s increased trade value; and
- Chicago need to drastically improve their defence.