Basketball Prospectus: Unfiltered Everything Else is Fluff.

November 3, 2009

On tap: Bulls-Bucks

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bradford Doolittle @ 7:08 pm

I’m back at the United Center tonight for the Bulls-Bucks game which will mark the first regular-season meeting between point guard prodigies Derrick Rose and Brandon Jennings. Kevin Pelton broke down Jennings’ game already and I’ll be interested to see the matchup between two flashy young players that are better on the offensive end than on defense. Will the head-to-head confrontation bring about a little bit of heightened defensive intensity? We’ll see.

The Bulls are back at home for the first time since beating San Antonio last Thursday in their season opener. Since then, Chicago has been blown out at Boston and lost a tight game at Miami. So the hometown guys need a win. If you’re watching this on television, keep an eye on Vinny Del Negro’s fourth quarter lineup. He’s been going small early in the season, with Kirk Hinrich playing alongside Derrick Rose with John Salmons sliding up to three and Luol Deng over to four.

The odd man out in that configuration has been Tyrus Thomas and he’s apparently not too happy about it. A day after expressing his disenchantment, Thomas missed the Bulls’ shootaround this morning with flu-like symptoms and is questionable for tonight’s game. The fact of the matter is that Thomas remains unreliable. He’s still spending way too much time hanging around the perimeter, waiting to take his unreliable midrange jumper. On defense, he’s still prone to the spectacular but gets caught out of position too often. (It was this tendency that led to his spat with Del Negro during a film session on Monday.)

The re-emergence of Deng in the early season has made Del Negro’s small-ball, crunch-time lineup the Bulls’ best bet for the fourth quarter. You can’t blame Thomas for being upset, but you also can’t blame the Bulls for losing faith in their slow-too-develop forward. The fact that the Bulls did not pick up Thomas’ option for next season can’t be helping matters, either. However you could see that situation coming from a mile away. There is no way the Bulls could afford to make a serious run at Dwyane Wade without renouncing Thomas next summer. This could be a season-long headache for Del Negro, Gar Forman and John Paxson.

Follow me at @bbdoolittle for live updates from the game via Twitter.

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