Although the Chicago Bulls have started the 2015-16 NBA season strong in the standings, star guard Jimmy Butler knows the roster is capable of much more at the beginning of games.
Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times notes Butler said the team is improving but has found itself going through the motions early on and expecting to simply pick up the intensity when it’s needed.
“I don’t think we bring that fight every single night. I think we’re starting to get back to that, but early on we weren’t the hardest-playing team every night. We always need to and have to be the hardest-playing team.”
The Bulls are immensely talented and can compete with any other team in the league, evidenced by victories over the Cleveland Cavaliers and Oklahoma City Thunder.
However, if Chicago doesn’t play well during the first quarter, it’s typically a sign of what to expect for 48 minutes.
During six of the Bulls’ eight wins, they led after the opening frame. The other two showed a three-point deficit and a tie following the first quarter. Chicago trailed 12 minutes in during three of its four losses.
That’s certainly not a perfect metric, but it provides a bit of insight into how much a fast start means to this Bulls team still searching for an identity.
Though Derrick Rose thinks he’s the superstar, that title belong to Butler. Pau Gasol wants more touches, yet Joakim Noah can’t get rid of the ball fast enough. Second-year forward Nikola Mirotic is progressing rapidly, but he’s encountered a bit of a slump.
Chicago has five months to figure out the problems, but effort can always be a constant. Start there, and the rest will come.