4 things to watch for as the Chicago Bulls open preseason play tonight, including who will start at point guard – The Mercury News

The Chicago Bulls return to the court to prepare for the 2022-23 season with Tuesday’s preseason opener against the New Orleans Pelicans at the United Center (8:30 p.m., TNT, NBCSCH+).

Four exhibition games will provide an early look at this season’s team, which features 13 returning players from last season’s roster.

Here are four key questions for the Bulls heading into preseason action.

1. Who will start at point guard?

Coach Billy Donovan said Lonzo Ball continues to improve after Wednesday’s knee surgery, his second since being sidelined by a meniscus injury in January. But Ball is months away from returning to the starting lineup.

In the meantime, the Bulls should use the preseason to strengthen their point guard rotation. They can play in different rotations – for example, starting with veteran Goran Dragić and finishing with Alex Caruso to balance experience and defensive prowess.

Preseason games may not provide a completely clear answer. Dragić is still practicing under restricted minutes after participating in the Eurobasket tournament last month, which could result in a lighter preseason workload than he played in the regular season. But Dragić said the Bulls will start solidifying their rotation during the preseason games, which will give clues to the starting point guard.

2. How does a healthy Zach LaVine factor into the offense?

After a season marred by a knee injury, LaVine expressed excitement about returning to full health in 2022-23.

The Bulls need more availability from their All-Star shooting guard this season after LaVine signed a maximum contract extension in the offseason. The preseason offered the first look at LaVine’s playing style following arthroscopic knee surgery over the summer.

Donovan said he will talk to veterans like LaVine, Dragić and DeMar DeRozan to find out how many preseason minutes they need to prepare for the regular season without risking fatigue or injury. Although the main starters are unlikely to play in full rotations, the Bulls will benefit from giving LaVine and DeRozan enough time on the court together.

3. Has Patrick Williams upped his aggression?

Bulls teammates and coaches frankly need more from the power forward in his third season. Williams was also hampered by injury last season, spending most of it on the bench rehabbing torn ligaments in his left wrist.

Williams was especially hesitant after coming back late in the season, a trait that persisted during his rookie season as well.

The Bulls encouraged Williams to increase his volume of shots as well as his downhill aggression when driving to the basket. If he doesn’t show more confidence during preseason competition, the Bulls may have cause for concern as Williams continues to find his place in the rotation.

4. Is rookie Dalen Terry ready for action?

The Bulls added to their backcourt depth by using No. 18 pick in the NBA draft to Terry, a defensive-minded guard from Arizona who is still working on his jump shot as he enters his first season.

The Bulls expressed optimism about Terry’s performance in the NBA Summer League, where he averaged 11.8 points. But is he ready for real NBA minutes?

Donovan said the Bulls plan to bring Terry along gradually, using the Windy City Bulls of the G League as a platform to build first-team minutes. But the Bulls said Ayo Dosunmu was the same before his rookie season, which ended with the first-year guard leading the offense in Ball’s absence.

The Bulls are already operating with a reduced depth chart at guard due to Ball’s injury. Terry’s performance over the next two weeks will set a benchmark for his willingness to start seeing minutes in the second rotation.

Bulls preseason schedule

  • Tuesday, Oct. 4: vs. New Orleans Pelicans, 8:30 pm, United Center, TNT, NBCSCH+
  • Friday, Oct. 7: vs. Denver Nuggets, 7 p.m., United Center, NBCSCH
  • Sunday, Oct. 9: at Toronto Raptors, 5 pm, Scotiabank Arena, NBCSCH
  • Tuesday, Oct. 11: vs. Milwaukee Bucks, 7 p.m., United Center, NBCSCH


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