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Bulls Vs Hornets Tickets
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Transactions-wise, it was a very quiet offseason for the CHI. They made no major trades or free-agent acquisitions, and opted not to address an overcrowded backcourt and a thin frontcourt.

In reality, though, it was far from an uneventful summer because the CHI established two cornerstones that will serve as the franchise's foundation for the foreseeable future.

With the selection of Derrick Rose in the draft back in June and the signing of Luol Deng to a six-year, $71 million contract a month later, management decided to center its latest rebuilding hopes on those two players.

The plan for this season was simple:

While Rose adjusted to the professional game during his rookie season, Deng would fill a leadership role and provide steady play on the court.

It would be foolish to read too much into the first three games of the season, but so far the roles of the two players have been reversed. Rose has been the team's best and steadiest player, while Deng has struggled and often has appeared out of sorts.

That certainly was the case in the CHI' 96-86 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night in the United Center.

In a game when many of the team's veterans struggled, the 20-year-old Rose stepped up to fill the void. He finished with 26 points on 11-for-20 shooting and added six rebounds and three assists and had just two turnovers in 37 minutes. His assist total would have been higher if his teammates had been able to sink a few more open shots.

Deng, meanwhile, struggled with his shot for a second straight night, going just 4-for-13 from the field in scoring 11 points against the Grizzlies. He also had his lapses on the defensive end and was just 3-for-7 from the free-throw line.

''It's knowing where my shots are coming from,'' Deng said of his struggles. ''We're trying to be fast and the pace is kind of speeding a lot of us up, especially me. I have to find ways to attack the basket more and ways to change up the rhythm a little bit.''

Instead of being aggressive and attacking the basket, Deng, by his own admission, too often is settling for (and missing) perimeter jumpers.

''I think so, but I think it's just the way the offense is,'' he said. ''I don't feel like I'm taking bad jump shots. I just feel like I'm in spots where I normally hit them. When guys play off me, I'm going to shoot it whether I'm making them or not. I think that will come.''

It better, because there's no way the CHI can make the playoffs at Deng's current rate of production. Through three games, he is averaging 13.3 points (on 38.9 percent shooting) and 6.3 rebounds in a team-high 34.2 minutes.

The CHI probably need Deng to average 17 or 18 points and they definitely need his shooting percentage to be in the high 40s. They need him playing more like he did two years ago when he averaged 18.8 points on 51.7 percent shooting when the CHI won 49 games.

Deng, 23, is still young, but this is his fifth season in the NBA and it's time he starts living up to the potential that caused the CHI to sign him to the biggest deal in franchise history. He needs to be better this week because the CHI have a brutal four-game stretch starting tonight with games against the Orlando Magic, Cleveland Cavaliers (twice) and Phoenix Suns.

Deng and the rest of the CHI players would be do well to copy Rose's approach to the game. A rookie is supposed to learn from the veterans, but there's a lot he could teach them.

For one thing, Rose does a good job for such a young player of objectively evaluating his game and determining what he needs to add to take it to another level. After watching the Boston Celtics run laps around the CHI last Friday, Rose decided he needed to become more emotional on the court.

''It's hard,'' he said. ''That's just not me, that's just not my personality. I'm a quiet guy, so I have to change.''

When asked why being emotional was important, Rose said, ''It gets your team ready and it feels like you're ready to go to war. As long as you have your teammates behind you, you should be good.

''I saw in the Celtics game; that was an emotional team. They talked to each other, they were having fun. I'm learning, learning from everyone in the NBA.''

Even though he is reserved and quiet by nature, Rose has a swagger to his game that no one else on the roster possesses. He knows he's good and knows he can be great if he goes about things the right way.

For years, general manager John Paxson wondered whether his core group of young players -- mainly Deng, Kirk Hinrich and Ben Gordon -- were too mild-mannered. He doesn't have to worry any more because this is Rose's team now and the others would do well to follow his lead.


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