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It’s September now and that means basketball is almost back. Training camp and media day should be at the end of the month with preseason kicking off shortly thereafter.
That means the news, excitement and forecasting is picking up and there’s more and more to dive into.
Without further ado, here is this week’s Closing Five:
1. Sky has fallen
What a brutal way for the Sky to go. Up big after the third quarter, the Connecticut Sun went on a historic rampage finishing off the game on a 18-0 run to close out the Sky at Wintrust Arena.
Though the expectations were championship or bust, the Sky were not nearly as invincible as they were during last season’s magical postseason run. They lost a winnable Game 1 in their first-round series against the New York Liberty in a similar fashion and got smoked in Game 4 of against the Sun, a game which could have sent them to back-to-back WNBA Finals appearances.
Once the shock wears off, there will be a sour aftertaste throughout the long offseason. It was still a great ride and the Sky remain the best, most put-together team in the city. Hopefully, they’ll bring the band back together to make another run next year but a lot of questions will face the team this offseason.
2. More Lonzo sadness
Late last week, ESPN broke news that Lonzo Ball will not be ready for training camp and the start to his season could be in jeopardy. This week, ESPN doubled down saying Ball will miss time into the regular season.
This is awful, but the Bulls are in a better position to withstand his injury than they were last year. With training camp to strategize, general health and #continuity around the rest of the roster, this injury shouldn’t tank their season the way it did last year (which was probably an overstated narrative to begin with).
3. Stat of the Week: Dosunmu Breakout?
The Bulls have three extremely talented defensive guards on their hands.
Another reason I’m feeling a bit less concerned about the Ball absence, a full offseason of preparation and improvement from Ayo Dosunmu is going to be huge for the Bulls. Dosunmu has already proved he can step into a larger role, and with Ball out, I’m expecting him to take advantage of the opportunity. Breakout season incoming.
Dosunmu did a fantastic job despite very little preparation for the role he undertook last season.
“Ayo was, basically all last year, just playing off the feel,” Caruso told Basketball News in a recent interview. “Your first year in the league, you don’t understand concepts really. You don’t understand coverages. You’re seeing guys play, and you’re playing against guys for the first time. You’re seeing their best moves for the first time; they’re probably going to beat you most of the time. So for him to be able to compete the way he did last year on defense is a great sign for a guy in his first year.”
When you think about room for internal improvement, Dosunmu is right up there with Patrick Williams as players who could completely raise the ceiling of this team. With a full offseason to speed up and build confidence in his jumper, study and learn the game to a higher level and take advantage of a year’s experience, Dosunmu could be in for big things in year two.
4. 2k Rating Madness
NBA 2K23 ratings were leaked and of course it caused an uproar. Check out the Bulls players ratings, which inevitably had Twitter in shambles.
It’s not quite back to the time of year when there is actual basketball to discuss, so maybe it’s out of pure boredom. But I cannot express enough how little I care about this.
I don’t care that Patrick Williams is rated 75 and Tony Bradley is rated 74. Should Zach LaVine be a 90? I don’t care. Is Andre Drummond really only four points below Nikola Vucevic? I don’t care. Video games are video games. It’s not real life. I don’t even know what any of it means. It’s time for NBA hoops to return so we have some real things to debate.
5. Other news around the roster
- Goran Dragic continues to tear up Eurobasket. He put up 14 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists as Slovenia took down France in Week 5 of the tournament. Dragic has looked really good in his appearances; getting downhill, using his craft to create space and playing well off of Luka Doncic. He had a key steal late in a tie game that gave Slovenia the lead over France. It’s EuroBasket, not the NBA, but especially with Ball’s season in jeopardy, it’s nice to see Dragic might have a bit more in the tank.
- Bulls officially ink Malcolm Hill to their second two-way spot. With Justin Lewis, the Bulls other two-way player, out for the year with a torn ACL, they need another wing sized player in their system. Hill was awesome for the Windy City Bulls as a two-way player last year and put up numbers in Las Vegas Summer League. He’ll have a chance to earn some minutes as the Bulls wing depth continues to be a problem.
- Caruso takes France. Getting the lay of the land before the Bulls game in Paris this January?
- Bulls Fest looked like fun. Our friend Elias Schuster from Bleacher Nation had a nice write up of his experience there
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