Donovan believes strength of revamped Bulls is frontcourt
Are the Bulls any better since making a couple trades at the deadline?
The record says no, since they lost their sixth game in a row at Utah on Friday. But there have been plenty of mitigating circumstances between a tough schedule and key players missing games.
The Bulls will complete a stretch of playing teams with the NBA's three-best records within five days when they host the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday afternoon. This will be the Bulls' first look at the latest superteam this season, but James Harden and Kevin Durant are both listed as out due to hamstring injuries.
After facing the Nets, the Bulls will pack their bags for five more road games. At least they got healthier, with Zach LaVine (ankle) and Coby White (neck) both returning to the lineup against the Jazz. Newcomer Daniel Theis missed his first game with the Bulls due to a family issue, adding to the lack of continuity.
Coach Billy Donovan took some comfort in the fact that the Bulls were more competitive in the last two games against Utah and Phoenix.
"I thought we were much better defensively tonight," Donovan said after the Utah game. "I thought there was way more physicality. So that part was encouraging. The biggest part is we have to play through our bigs. We have to play through them as playmakers and facilitators."
That's a significant change, since the Bulls began the season with a focus on perimeter players like LaVine, White, Lauri Markkanen and Garrett Temple.
But now they have a high-scoring center in Nikola Vucevic and an experienced big in Theis. Thad Young continues to do a little bit of everything, and Donovan has started flipping Markkanen and rookie Patrick Williams between the small forward and power forward spots.
"I think we have a very, very unselfish team, but we're also not the kind of team that has a lot of creative playmakers off the dribble," Donovan said. "It's just not who we are. But the guys who generate offense are generally our bigs, so we've had to play through them a little bit more.
"It's going to be interesting to see whether we can play big. I'm anxious to see whether or not we can play with two bigs, I feel that's the strength of our team is our frontcourt."
With LaVine and White sidelined for the Phoenix game, Donovan used an interesting starting lineup with Markkanen basically playing shooting guard, with Williams, Young and Vucevic on the front line.
"I do think we have a big team, we have a long team and I do think if we try to utilize our size and our length, that's the best way to go," Donovan said.
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