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Bulls find plenty of positive trends in preseason

Bulls guard Nate Robinsstretches for long pass fourth quarter Chicago Bulls 92-88 wover Memphis Grizzlies Tuesday October 9 2012 United

Bulls guard Nate Robinson stretches for a long pass in the fourth quarter of the Chicago Bulls 92-88 win over the Memphis Grizzlies Tuesday October 9, 2012 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: November 29, 2012 6:52AM



There isn’t much that a 15th training camp was going to teach Nazr Mohammed.

The Bulls veteran center has been on bad teams, championship teams and everything in between.

What he did learn the last month, though, was that with or without Derrick Rose, he believes the Bulls are good enough to do some damage in the Eastern Conference.

“I’m confident we have the type of guys in this locker room that work hard, care about winning, who care about their teammates, and we have a coaching staff that is phenomenal in keeping us prepared,” Mohammed said. “Those are the keys.

“Every team is good enough to compete for an NBA championship. The problem is who is willing to sacrifice on that team to make the team play better? Not everyone can start, not everyone can play 30 minutes, not everyone can show all the talent they have. So there has to be guys that sacrifice.

“On other teams, some guys do and they win. On other teams, guys don’t want to sacrifice, and you look at them and are like, ‘He’s a good player, he’s a good player, he’s a good player, but they suck.’ We have what it takes to compete at a high level and win games, and hopefully when Derrick gets back, gets healthy — we don’t want him to rush — he’s going to make us even better.”

Unselfishness was what Mohammed took from the 5-2 preseason, but there were some other noticeable trends:

Big things, little packages

Nate Robinson stands 5-9 on a good day, but he might be the little engine that could, especially considering the injury history of starting point guard Kirk Hinrich. Even in the preseason, Hinrich missed starts because of an injured thumb and a sore right groin.

While Hinrich was expected to be the bridge that holds the team together until Rose returns from his torn left anterior cruciate ligament, it could end up being Robinson. That’s not a bad thing considering the energy and swagger he has brought to the team.

In Thibs they trust

Tom Thibodeau will show why he is considered an elite coach by not only his peers, but by many of the general managers around the NBA. His preparation might be good for five-to-seven victories a year. More importantly, his players have bought in to his philosophy.

Belinelli must find touch

It’s amazing how athletes who come from organizations that never have won can be overwhelmed when they have to perform with high expectations. Marco Belinelli looked lost in the preseason before finally hitting his first three-pointer in the final exhibition game. The Bulls need scoring off the bench, and Belinelli has to show that he can deliver.

Talented trees

At the start of preseason, the strength of the roster was considered to be the deep and talented front line. It didn’t disappoint. Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng, Taj Gibson and Mohammed give the Bulls one of the best units in the East.

The Butler did it

Second-year forward Jimmy Butler showed some life in the summer league, and he took some important steps in training camp. He won’t be an offensive force off the bench anytime soon, but he can be a defensive stopper, as well as a highlight waiting to happen with his ability above the rim.



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