Things don't look much different from last season for the Chicago Bulls, who rolled to a win over the Orlando Magic on Friday, with perhaps one subtle exception.
Since the start of last season, the Bulls are now 29-11 against teams that are .500 or better. That’s the best mark against such teams in the NBA.
One much-discussed trend evident from Chicago’s strong start is Derrick Rose’s evolution into becoming more of a pass-first player (he had 10 more assists in Friday’s win).
The proof of this can be seen in video review of situations in which he is the ballhandler on a pick-and-roll play.
Passing When P&R Ball Handler
Derrick Rose Last 2 Seasons
Rose has increased the rate at which he’ll pass on pick-and-roll plays in the early part of the season. Last season, he did so slightly less than half of the time of the time.
This season, he’s done so slightly more often, and with greater success, as noted in the chart on the right.
One extra time per game of choosing to pass rather than shoot has led to good results so far. He had four of his 10 assists on pick-and-rolls in Friday’s win.
That said, Rose’s high assist total early this season is actually almost a near match for what he did in the first eight games last season, when he registered 76 assists. It will be worth watching to see if his pass-first ways continue.
Elsewhere in the NBA
The Denver Nuggets won again, beating the New Orleans Hornets, 96-88 to improve to 6-2. Denver is playing at the fastest pace in the league, registering upwards of 100 possessions per game and averaging the most fast-break points per game (24.3).
But what stat is most shocking? They rank first in the NBA in defensive efficiency, allowing 92 points allowed per 100 possessions.
It was just the second game in Pierce's career in which he made that few shots in that many attempts.
Pierce was 3-for-19 in a Celtics loss at the Charlotte Hornets on April Fool's Day in 2001.
Spreading the Love Around
Love is the first to have at least 20 points and 12 rebounds in his team's first seven games since 1975 (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar -- 10 straight).
The Knicks outscored the Washington Wizards by 20 points in Shumpert’s 37 minutes on the floor on Friday. They were outscored by 17 points in the 11 minutes in which he was on the bench.
Anthony, by the way, has 204 points through the Knicks first seven games. According to Elias, only one Knicks player had more points in that many games—Bernard King with 228 in 1984-1985.