In all my years watching pro ball, I don’t remember a team quitting on its coach this early into a season, but that is what the Bulls have done to Vinny Del Negro. Following last night’s 118-83 debacle in Atlanta, Vinny Of The Black’s days at the helm are numbered.
Chicago has now lost 9 of its last 10, many of the embarrassing variety, including Tuesday’s 103-101 home loss to the Nets, a team with little hap.
The Bulls aren’t defending anyone, but at least have shown good balance by looking lost on the offensive end. Rick Pitino reassured Bulls fans by commenting that Horace Grant and Scottie Pippen are not walking through that door.
Del Negro has put his faith in a system that seemingly none of his players believe in, with the possible exception of second-year perpetrator Derrick Rose, who regularly tries to beat multiple defenders off the dribble. Rose has been brutal for the most part, as has backcourt mate John Salmons, shooting below 40 percent from the field, an indictment of his shot selection as much as anything.
Joakim Noah (11.6 rpg, 1.7 bpg) has been the lone bright spot, but his behavior seems so erratic that he could be one more blowout away from pulling a Ricky Williams and taking a year off to smoke some ganja.
Jamal Crawford: Played 34 minutes off the pine and tallied a game-high 29 points on 10-of-16 (4-6 3-pt fg) from the field in the Hawks’ easy win over the Bulls. Crawford is good for one of these gems every few weeks, but will be too inconsistent to start regularly.
Kirk Hinrich: Returned from a thumb injury in enough time to misfire on all nine of his attempts in the Bulls’ humiliating loss last night. If Rose were to ever go down, Hinrich would be a solid add, but he belongs on waiver wires.
Tyler Hansbrough: Double-doubled to the tune of 13 points and 11 rebounds in only 22 minutes for the depleted Pacers yesterday. His minutes could begin to creep up and could be worth an add.
Jonas Jerebko: The best Hamish player to ever don an NBA uniform, Jerebko’s days as a solid contributor could be numbered as Tayshaun Prince, Richard Hamilton and Ben Gordon are on the mend. But we’ve been saying this for a number of weeks, and as last night’s 17 points (7-12 fg) and 10 rebounds indicate, this is one talented Mennonite.
Rodney Stuckey: With the Pistons’ rash of injuries, Stuckey has been carrying the load offensively and should continue to do so. Last night’s 27, 5 and 8 lifted his team of no-names to a surprising win in Philly.
Allen Iverson: Speaking of Philly, it seems the Sixers haven’t won since they were called the Warriors and the Big Dipper roamed the interior. Through two games, the AI experiment has gone about as well as the other recent AI experiments the past few years. Last night’s epic 11-point, 3-assist outing was accomplished in 33 minutes. Iverson has way too much pride to not put points on the board and will take as many shots necessary to guise the fact that he is a detriment to any team he is on. Count on this while trying to pry him away from his owner.
Anthony Randolph: If Golden State was guided by anyone other than Nellie we could have something here. Not many in the league can post 11 points, 9 boards, 4 assists and 3 blocks in 20 minutes, but that is what Randolph did against the Nets last night. Hang in there with him and expect more monster lines along the way.
Luke Ridnour: One of the biggest surprises in the league, Ridnour has been terrific while backing up Brandon Jennings. In last night’s thrashing of Toronto he registered 15 points and 6 assists in a paltry 15 minutes of work. He’s probably worth an add, particularly if you have dead weight on your roster.
Ryan Gomes: Gomes is still starting for the Timberwolves and continued his torrid play with 21 points and 6 caroms last night. He has averaged 19.0 points and 5.2 rebounds, while shooting nearly 60 percent over his last five contests. Kevin Love will be starting soon, but it should be at the demise of Damien Wilkins and not Gomes.
Shane Battier: After a slow start to the season, Battier has turned it on, especially in the tough-to-come-by 3-point shooting, blocks and steals categories. He is also beginning to play big minutes and is a pretty good start during four-game weeks. Last night he totaled 14 points, 4 3-pointers, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks in 38 minutes of work. A solid day at the office by anyone’s standards.
Beno Udrih: Despite coming off the bench, Udrih still has ample opportunity to record points, assists and steals. He saw 36 minutes of daylight in San Antonio last night and produced 15 points (7-11 fg), 4 rebounds and 6 assists.
Only three games on the docket tonight, including Pistons vs. Nuggets. The Carmelo/Jerebko matchup could be classic.