Time for Bulls’ Rose, Salmons to step up

I almost got excited after the Chicago Bulls’ first three games. Almost.

They started off nicely, as they normally do on opening night, with a big win against arguably the cream of the crop in the West, the San Antonio Spurs. The next day, I was proud to wear my Bulls sweatshirt-jacket around campus. But my enthusiasm was stripped from me after the debacle in Boston and the lackadaisical performance in Miami. But alas, Bulls fans have to be used to the rollercoaster that is the regular season in Chicago. The Bulls are about as consistent as the size of my burrito at Chipotle.

Honestly, the first three games are not that important in the NBA. But it did give me a chance to forecast what three of the Bulls starters have offered me thus far, and what they will need to put forth to further warrant me wearing my Bulls sweatshirt-jacket around campus with my head held high. And if you knew me, you would know how big of a deal it is that I wear Bulls stuff around campus.

Joakim Noah

The man is bananas. Apparently he liked the taste of the little bit of success he had in last year’s postseason, when he decided he wanted to start playing aggressively in the Celtics series. It worked for him then, and now he’s carrying that over into this year’s regular season.

I would argue that he has not only been the Bulls best player but their most consistent player. He put on about 10 to 15 pounds in the offseason so he could bang around in the paint better — and it shows. He is simply a pest for the opposing team’s post players. He is averaging five offensive boards a game and nine overall. Teams are starting to hate him, and he loves it. Hustle plays are what make the difference night after night, and that’s exactly what he brings to the table. Oh, and did I mention he’s shooting a team-high 60 percent from the field?

Keep doing what you’re doing Noah. I saw your little baby hooks in the lane, too. Not bad.

John Salmons

He is probably the biggest disappointment of the 2009-10 season thus far in Chicago. Everyone had high hopes that he would come out hot this year after the Bulls shipped off Ben Gordon in the offseason. But he sure didn’t. Apparently his decline at the end of last season was less about him being hampered with injuries and more about him simply not playing good basketball.

He’s shooting a whopping 12 for 43 from the field, which is a shade under 28 percent. And worse yet, he’s only hit 3 of his first 19 shots from behind the arc — not really getting it done for me. If a player is going to move as slowly and release his shot as slowly as Paul Pierce, he better produce W’s.

Salmons is simply not doing that. He needs to get out of his funk soon because coach Vinny Del Negro is going to play him heavy minutes this season. But on the bright side for him, at least he’s not still in Sacramento like Andres Nocioni is now.

Derrick Rose

He’s a freak of nature. Everybody knows that. But he simply has not used his tools yet this season. He is making the Bulls’ offense look jumbled and out of sync. He can get to the basket if he wants to, but I haven’t seen the killer instinct.

It could also be the case that the other team’s defenses are collapsing on him and making Salmons shoot jumpers, which is good thinking. Also, I have not seen much improvement from Rose since last season. His jumper looks about the same, and his 37-percent shooting doesn’t lie.

Rose needs to lasso this Bulls offense and make it his own. He needs to facilitate and distribute more effectively. And he needs to exploit other team’s big men with some pick and rolls with Noah or Tyrus Thomas. Please get to the basket and give fans something to cheer about other than what appears to be a new tattoo.

Plenty of fans make excuses that the Bulls simply don’t play well on the road or on the second game of back-to-backs. But I really don’t want to hear those excuses already when they have played less than five games. Players are rested, mostly healthy and focused after training camp and an offseason to do whatever they wish. I will cut them some slack because the season in still early. But this season is the Bulls’ chance to win me over once and for all as a fan after years of a shaky relationship between me and them. Please don’t blow it.

I don’t want to have to give my sweatshirt-jacket away to Goodwill.

Brett Geenberg is a senior in Media. He can be reached at [email protected]