Everybody wants to talk about how Derrick Rose has improved his game, whether Carlos Boozer can be a more consistent scorer and how Rip Hamilton will fit in when and if he's signed. Few ask about what became the Bulls trademark --- defense --- last season.
Coach Tom Thibodeau elaborated Wednesday.
"It's not any one particular guys," he said when asked if the loss of veteran center Kurt Thomas means the Bulls will have to tweak things defensively. "It's the entire team. Everyone has to understand what their job is and then they have to do it. We do everything collectively. Every aspect of our defense is done as a team. So it's not any one particular guy that's responsible for anything--it's the entire team."
If that's the case, communication is critical. Thibs said he has been pleased with how players have communicated defensively thus far during training camp.
"It's great," he said. "Our big guys are always real good communicators. They're the eyes of the defense, they see it first and our smalls, they have the responsibility to get the calls and relay what's coming. So, our entire team has to talk and what talk does, it gives your defense a head start and if you know the plays, know the coverages and know the tendencies, it's a big advantage."
Thomas' departure also means a bigger role for Omer Asik, who proved to be a valuable defender as a rookie last season before breaking his leg in the playoffs. Asik has completely recovered from the injury and has been running pain-free.
"Defensively, that's what I liked about our second unit, when you look at Omer and Taj [Gibson] and Ronnie [Brewer] and C.J. [Watson] and Kyle [Korver] is a very good team defender, that group played exceptionally well together," Thibs said. "When you throw Luol [Deng] out there, it gives you another primary defender. And Omer anchored our second unit. His shot blocking, his rebounding and his screening often times gets overlooked. He has got to continue to develop his post game and there's a lot of opportunity, particularly with the second unit, when Kyle comes off screens teams often times put two on Kyle. They don't want to give him a catch and shoot opportunity and to me those are your best opportunities to get post depth. We've just got to get him stepping to the ball and stepping to the rim quicker and finishing quicker inside."
Thibs kept the second team together last season and would like to do the same again, although he reserves the right to change his mind.
"Once we get everybody, we'll see what's best for the team," he said. "I liked the way it worked last year. I thought our second [team] played with a lot of confidence. I thought they got better throughout the year. They had great chemistry. But we'll get a look at different combinations and then we'll determine what's best for the team."