DeMar DeRozan did not underestimate the facts.
There were plenty of moments throughout the preseason scrums where the bench players gave the Bulls starting five all they could handle.
That’s why he has no problem getting stuck with his minutes and running with this group. Whether it’s alongside Alex Caruso, Troy Brown Jr., Javonte Green or even rookie Ayo Dosunmu, DeRozan knows what the opposition is going to get.
“The second unit usually kicks our asses in training, so to be with them, running forward, they just kind of bring in the energy,” DeRozan said. “The second group always comes in with energy on the defensive end and we just try to get out and run.
This is exactly the identity that the bench team are trying to promote.
They have shown it throughout the undefeated preseason and want to make their mark on what will hopefully be a playoff race.
“This second unit for me personally, given what we’re capable of in training, I think we’re capable of a lot of things,” Brown said on the bench on Friday. “In general, being able to keep everything and change everything, like one to five, whoever we have, and always have that offensive balance to match it, whether we have DeMar in [running with us], Zach [LaVine] in, Zo [Lonzo Ball], Alex, Derrick [Jones Jr.], that’s a lot of options. I think the most important thing for us is to maintain our chemistry and make sure we keep ourselves accountable this year, to make sure we get here and try to improve. ”
What will be interesting for this group as roles are continually defined throughout the season is how they stack up against bigger benches. Much like the Bulls’ starters, the reserves will generally play small. It means using athleticism and physique to play with the infractions.
Brown feels like they have the players to do it every night, especially after coach Billy Donovan sets expectations at camp.
“[Donovan] sort of went through the roles and told each of us what our job was and what we expected, ”Brown said. “This clarification relieved a lot of us, sort of like, ‘OK, I can do these three things if that’s what you want from me. It’s easy.’ ”
What about the supposed kicks in the practices of the first unit? Brown smirked.
“It’s a level of respect, but at the same time we want to make them better, so every day that we come here we play as hard as we can, and so it’s work as a second unit” Brown said. “It’s to put pressure on your first unit to improve. “
Donovan has seen his share of future Hall of Fame leaders, coaching both Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook. So putting Lonzo Ball in the same class while discussing playmaker IQ was definitely an elite endeavor.
“Look, when I had these guys, Chris was in the league for 14 years and Westbrook for seven, eight years, so they were a little older,” Donovan said. “Lonzo is still a young player who is improving, but I think he is a very instinctive player.”
Patrick Williams was back in the starting lineup after sustaining a left shoulder injury in the third quarter against Detroit. Williams finished the game with the Pistons, but felt it Thursday.
He didn’t want to watch the movie from the room he was linked to Killian Hayes in, but Williams said it could have been a lot worse.
“But from what I heard, I got lucky honestly,” said Williams. “I have been blessed. “