Bulls try to push pace with multi ballhandler system in preseason loss to Bucks


The Bulls’ point guard situation is so crowded and complex, it could be written about every game.

Kris Dunn drew the initial start for Monday’s 122-112 loss to the Bucks in the Bulls’ preseason opener at the United Center and, after some initial struggles defensively, finished with 11 points, three assists and three steals in close to 24 minutes.

Coby White showed flashes of the speed, strength and fearlessness that attracted management to him as the No. 7 pick in last June’s draft. But he also, at least for one night, appeared to be allergic to passing, taking 10 shots with one assist.

And while missing five of six shots, Tomas Satoransky finished with seven rebounds, five steals and three assists and made the kind of heady plays that he’s known for and don’t always appear in the box score.

In other words, nobody separated themselves from the pack.

Coach Jim Boylen has made clear he will try different starting lineups throughout the preseason.

“We’re going to take this two weeks, 10 days, whatever it is to look at everybody and figure it out,” Boylen said. “What you’ve seen though is Coby was on the floor and maybe he was matched up with the point guard defensively but he played shooting guard because he’s a baller. He’s just a guy who plays. Sato, the same thing. I had a lineup where Sato was guarding the small forward but he brought the ball up.

“I think that makes us hard to guard. I think that’s a reason we shot 38 free throws because we got a lot of people driving the ball and handling the ball.”

White is fearless. Give him that. He certainly looks more like a shooting guard trapped in a point guard position.

But that’s the thing about Boylen’s multi ballhandler system. It allows for versatility and flexibility, players reading off each other and trying to push the pace.

“He didn’t look nervous. He was poised, tough, physical and confident. No moment is too big for him. He’s getting better and better and better,” Boylen said of White. “I also thought he learned some things defensively tonight. He learned some guys in our league can shoot it. He got back cut a couple of times. He realized the spacing in our league is different. As well as he played, he’s going to learn a ton each night.”

White, who reiterated his comfort level playing off the ball, proved his own harshest critic.

“I played alright. I could’ve played better,” he said. “First game, but I have high expectations for myself. I could’ve played better offensively with my decision-making and defensively with my one-on-one defense.”

Dunn spoke for all the point guards when he said the only goal is to win and make the playoffs.

“We’re capable of doing that,” he said.

Ultimately, the ball has to find its way to Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen anyway since those are the team’s primary scorers. LaVine looked effortless in posting 16 points and five assists in just over 22 minutes.

LaVine took six of the Bulls’ 38 3-point attempts.

“I feel it’s going to help us get out, get on the break a little better, and take more 3s,” LaVine said of the multi ballhandler system and players reading off each other. “I’ve been very happy. (Boylen) said, ‘Take more 3s.’ And I was all for it.

“That’s the way the league is going now. And we have the type of team to do it. I’m excited about that. Multiballhanders, whoever gets off the rim, push it, run your lane and get up and down the court.”

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