Nikola and Marko Overseas, How The Paw Hopes to Improve, Praising Billy, and Other Bulls Bullets

Two of the Bulls’ big men are hard at work overseas.

KK Mega Basket – one of the top Serbian basketball teams – recently hosted both Nikola Vucevic and Marko Simonovic for a recent event. The Bulls’ 2020 second-round selection, Simonovic, played for the organization before he was taken off the board with the No. 44 overall pick.

  • The two frontcourt players are also in line to play for the Montenegrin men’s national basketball team during the World Cup Qualifiers at the beginning of July, per BasketNews. All things considered, the presence of both players should offer the team a significant boost, which is set to play France on July 1st and Portugal on July 4th. Vucevic last suited up for his home country at the World Cup in 2019.
  • I can’t help but love when I see overseas talent go out of their way to rep their home country. While the NBA is often viewed as the end-all-be-all for us outside the basketball universe, this just goes to show how important the competition is to those on the inside. Not to mention, it’s always a good reminder of how global the game has become.
  • I also surely don’t mind Vucevic and Simonovic spending some extra time in the gym together. Look, I know many Bulls fans want to send the two-time All-Star to his room with no dinner, but the fact of the matter is that he’s still one of the most highly-respect big men in the league. For a young player like Simonovic, who has a similar ability to space the floor and run offense, Vucevic truly feels like an excellent mentor.
  • Speaking of which, do we think Simonovic will clock any meaningful minutes next season? He certainly comes off as a little more muscular in the image above, and I have to imagine one season of behind-the-scenes practices and G-League games has done him some good. But he undoubtedly remains a huge mystery at the moment, which kind of stinks knowing (1) he’s still owed guaranteed money, and (2) the Bulls desperately need help in the frontcourt.
  • A summer with DeMar DeRozan sounds … intense:
  • While speaking about his offseason workout regimen with Stacey King on the latest Gimme the Hot Sauce Podcast, Williams also explained where he hopes to improve the most in Year 3:
  • “Consistency I would say for me … especially last year because I think I played under 20 games. Just trying to kind of be consistent, whether it’s being aggressive, whether it’s getting downhill, whether it’s being locked in defensively, whether it’s rebounding the ball.”

  • Bingo. Of course, part of this goal can be accomplished by simply staying on the floor, but we’ve also seen Williams slip in and out of his aggressive mentality a lot over his short career. While that is expected from a player as raw and inexperienced as the 20-year-old, it’s also something we want to see corrected sooner than later. His physical tools are extremely evident, but using those skills consistently is a mental game. Let’s hope this summer with DeRozan can help teach him how to better lock in.
  • Williams also gave Billy Donovan a five-star Yelp review:
  • “Billy’s my only NBA head coach, but just listening to other guys, there really aren’t many NBA coaches that reach out hat much and want to be as involved as he does. And, obviously, he knows what he’s doing. Any time he reaches out, it’s always productive. Something that can get me better.”

  • Donovan might be all Williams knows at this level, but the forward is touching on exactly why the NBA head coach has been one of the most well-respected since he entered the league. Donovan has been widely praised for his people-person skills for decades, and he’s used that to consistently pull the best out of his players. Say what you will about his X’s and O’s decision-making, but he’s a big reason why we’ve seen such a significant culture change inside this franchise.
  • Listen to the full interview with Williams below:
  • BullsTV might very well be the best video crew in the league. As a former sports videographer myself, this is just a mesmerizing watch:
  • Is that good?
  • Got to come back locked in.
  • Not The Tank!
  • written by

    Elias Schuster is the Lead Chicago Bulls writer at Bleacher Nation. He started with BN full-time in 2019 immediately after graduating from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign with a degree in Journalism (yes, he started with the Jim Boylen Era). Since joining, Elias has been the driving force behind Bulls and NBA content for both the site and social accounts. You can follow him on Twitter/X @Schuster_Elias.

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