Despite last night’s laughable loss to Atlanta, there were a couple of bright spots. Rookie Jimmy Butler saw 12 minutes of action and posted 12 points (3-3 FG, 6-6 FT) and 3 rebounds. The Bulls possess depth at the wing position (Deng, Hamilton, Brewer, Korver), but Butler’s play is certainly encouraging for the future. His length, athleticism, and upside are something to be excited about. Bulls fans should also be pleased with the continued solid play of backup point guard John Lucas. Lucas led the team in scoring last night with 16 points (6-12 FG, 2-4 3 Pt). Granted, most of those came in garbage time, but his steady contributions since C.J. Watson’s injury have been a pleasant surprise.
When C.J. Watson hurt his elbow, the truth is that most Bulls fans didn’t even know the Bulls had another point guard on the roster. Most fans reasoned that they should go sign someone, such as Rafer Alston, Chucky Atkins, or Earl Boykins — someone who could fill in for a brief few weeks before Watson returned. Comcast analyst Kendall Gill even suggested the Bulls make a few calls to plug the sudden hole in the backcourt. But the Bulls declared their confidence in Lucas from the time Watson went down, and Lucas has in turn proved that their confidence in him has been warranted.
Lucas’ performance in the past five games has not just been adequate. He hasn’t just come in and taken care of the ball until D-Rose is ready to check back in. He’s proved he’s more than capable by making plays — attacking off the dribble, shooting without questioning himself, and revealing his ability to hit the long range ball (6 threes in 5 games, all of those games featuring limited minutes of action). Despite Lucas’ size (5-11), he has shown quickness, toughness, and nerve, which have helped make him the latest worthy addition to the “Bench Mob.”
John Lucas is the type of player that is easy to root for. His career has been anything but a steady ride of success. It has been full of twists, turns, and adversity. Lucas first came into the league in 2005 with the Houston Rockets, where he received limited minutes for two years. From 2007-2010, he bounced around from various stints overseas and the NBA D-League. Amidst it all, he never gave up or questioned his ability. Rather, he kept fighting.
Then came last season. The Bulls gave him a chance during preseason, but adversity struck again as he was waived prior to the beginning of the regular season. However, the Bulls brought him back a little over a month later and he remained with the team for the rest of the season. This year, Coach Thibodeau has already expressed his confidence in Lucas and Lucas is revealing why. It is decidedly evident that Lucas will remain with the Bulls throughout this season — both for his play and for his unfading resilient mentality which elevates the camaraderie of the team.
The Bulls made a wise move by giving Lucas a chance. If they would’ve signed a veteran point guard, it could have messed with team chemistry. Lucas has stepped in and not only filled Watson’s void with quality play, but he also embodies everything the Bulls are about — most importantly, winning. The man I like to now call “JL3” is proving he’s more than capable of being a backup point guard. His game is simply speaking for itself.