9:26 AM CST, December 21, 2011
Richard Hamilton just made everybody better.
I can’t stand exhibition games. They stink in all sports. So, maybe my level of expectation Tuesday night was below even Caleb Hanie’s quarterback rating, but omigod, what an exhibition game against the Pacers.
From Chairman Reinsdorf down to Mascot Scalabrine, Hamilton made everybody better.
He also made everybody talk about how easy it was to play a team game with a guy new to the team. Hamilton started that talk, which extended to Derrick Rose and Carlos Boozer and on and on and on.
Hamilton fit as perfectly as everybody had been saying. He moved the ball and picked up six of the Bulls’ 30 assists --- 30 assists on 39 baskets, do you hear me?
Hamilton shot like we knew he could, going for 13 in eight minutes --- that’s another thing: the impact he made in eight minutes. He’ll demand double teams on the perimeter that Keith Bogans could only ask Santa for.
Hamilton’s bombs will open up post opportunities, and that’s especially important for Carlos Boozer. It’s too obvious to ignore: Boozer usually stinks all game if he doesn’t get off early.
So, the threat of Hamilton added to Rose’s unpredictable and generally unguardable game will set up Boozer for more 20-and-10 games this season.
And for a guy whose age was a question, there was Hamilton, running the floor with Rose.
He makes the Bulls 10-deep --- deeper, I should say. The Bulls ran 10-deep last season, but now, the deepest team in the league is better.
Without a lot of publicity because the national media breathlessly reported every belch in South Beach, the Bulls’ self-named “Bench Mob’’ was the best defensive unit in the league. Somebody created an algorithm for it, I don’t understand it, but having watched the likes of C.J. Watson, Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver, Omer Asik and Taj Gibson last season, I believe it. The “Bench Mob’’ rarely got run over, usually maintained the lead, and often extended the advantage.
Hamilton just made the “Bench Mob’’ better not only because that unit can stay together, but also because Hamilton’s contributions will help them start with bigger leads.
I know this is a lot of drooling from me, an uncharacteristic turn if there ever was one, especially with an exhibition game. But how can you not be impressed?
I mean, five practices or so for Hamilton, and the Bulls looked like that? They looked like a bigger threat than last season’s best regular-season team and Eastern Conference finalist. Great debut. Maybe a better omen.
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