Every week, ESPNChicago.com Bulls writer Nick Friedell is joined by ESPN.com's Scoop Jackson and ESPNChicago.com's Doug Padilla to weigh in on three questions that are on the minds of Bulls followers.
1. Should the Bulls be concerned about Derrick Rose's low shooting percentage?
Friedell: Yes, they should be concerned, but not overly concerned. Rose is still just about a month into this season. He is still finding his rhythm. The Bulls should be more concerned that he isn't driving to the rim as much as he used to, but that should work itself out in time.
Jackson: Yes. Rose is a volume scorer on a team that has no other player capable of averaging 20 points per game, so him averaging 15 ppg is not going to make it. It’s one thing to have Allen Iverson's shooting percentage, but when you aren’t putting up AI numbers on a team where they look to you on offense to be their “AI,” low shooting percentage is acceptable only -- again, ONLY -- when you are averaging at least 23 points per. Also Rose has to finish. If it were just his jump shot that was off, that would be cool. But he’s not finishing the way he used to and that too is a problem.
Padilla: Anybody’s low shooting percentage should be cause for concern, but in Rose’s case, it still isn’t time to panic. Of course there is nothing pretty about Rose’s 34.4 percent shooting from the field heading into Thursday’s game at Denver, but the six 3-pointers he hit in Saturday’s victory over the Pacers show that his touch hasn’t abandoned him. Shooting is about repetition. Rose has been doing the work during and after practice, now it’s just about doing it consistently in games after missing 18 months of action.
2. What do the Bulls need to get straightened out on their six-game circus trip?
Friedell: More consistency on offense. The Bulls have played much better over the last two weeks but they still need to find a way to produce on offense every game. If Jimmy Butler has to miss a lot of time it will be important for Mike Dunleavy and Kirk Hinrich to step up in his place.
Jackson: Protect leads, close out quarters and find ways of holding teams below 85 points per game on the road. The Bulls are second in the NBA in opponents’ scoring, allowing only 89 ppg. In their three loses, all on the road, they are giving up almost 104 ppg. They need to redirect that and make these next six games almost unwatchable. Un-Must-See TV. Straight ugly. At least in the first four games out West, the Bulls need to show those teams how we ball in the Central and why stopping teams from scoring if you are trying to win a championship is more important than scoring yourself.
Padilla: Currently on a five-game winning streak, the Bulls are more like what they envisioned than it might seem. Monday’s victory over the Bobcats wasn’t pretty, but under new coach Steve Clifford, Charlotte has quickly transformed itself into one of the better defensive teams in the league. Still, there is plenty of room for improvement in the Bulls offense and that figures to come as the team gets more on-court minutes together after an injury-riddled preseason.
3. Omer Asik desperately wants out of Houston. Should the Bulls look into bringing him back?
Friedell: The Bulls would love to have Omer back but with the way the salary cap numbers line up -- and what Houston will want in return -- a deal just doesn't seem plausible right now.
Jackson: No. Only because there is no proof that he’s going to be happy here as the Bulls’ backup center again. Unless there is a plan in place to replace Joakim Noah with Asik. And if that’s the plan, then the Bulls need to toss in the title quest right now for this season and start tanking for first dibs on Jabari Parker, Julius Randle or Andrew Wiggins, Asik does not want to be anyone’s backup. That’s clear. So what is going to make him happy being back here as opposed to doing what he is already doing in Houston? I don’t see it. And I don’t Asik as being the answer.
Padilla: Dropping Asik onto the roster in its current form would improve the talent level, the problem is that the Rockets aren’t going to let him go for a bag of peanuts. It’s doubtful the Bulls would be willing to part with, say, Jimmy Butler to get Asik. Then there is the matter of Asik’s $8.3 million salary pushing the Bulls even further over the salary cap. The biggest issue of all is that it’s far too early to start fiddling with a roster that is among the most talented in the game.