“I consider myself a basketball player,” Dalen Terry told reporters after Thursday night’s draft.
The Arizona wing wasn’t being facetious. While he might be listed as a guard, Terry believes his 6’7″ frame allows him to easily slide into positions 1-4 depending on the lineup. And, no matter the spot he’s placed, Terry says he’ll find a way to have a winning impact:
“I feel like me passing the ball and watching my teammate score is just as good as me scoring,” Terry said when asked about his role in college. “I was a guy who could sacrifice some shots and facilitate for others, get the offense going, initiate the offense, make the extra pass, get the rebounds. I was doing the stuff that wasn’t going to show up on the stat sheet … I’m a product of my environment. Whatever situation I’m in, I’m going to adapt to.”
Terry targets the dirty work. A player who strives to be a star in his role, he feels like the kind of high-energy and hungry talent this Bulls front office similarly targeted in Ayo Dosunmu one season ago. These are players who have contributed to winning basketball in the past, and they expect to do the same at the next level right off the bat.
When speaking with Bryan Kalbrosky of For The Win recently, Terry described this mentality, clarifying his love for the game is no joke.
I’m a basketball junkie. I love basketball. I eat, sleep, and breathe basketball. For everything I do, I think about basketball first. Nothing is going to be in front of that. So you’re going to get a gym rat and a competitor. Everybody knows that about me. That’s been my label. I embrace that every day. People think I just turn that on. No, that’s who I am. That’s part of me. I’m just very consistent, too. You’re going to get very good defense and other accolades and attributes that I have. But you’re definitely going to get a winner and a guy that loves the game. I’m a student of the game.
Draft analysts weren’t sure if Terry was prepared to go pro this season. Many believe he would have turned into the next star at Arizona while simultaneously improving his draft stock toward the lottery in 2023. However, Terry emphasized in his interview after that draft that college stardom didn’t intrigue him: “I’d rather be in the NBA young and ready to learn and all that than be in college and be the star.”
I think Terry’s words certainly coincide with his on-court persona. He’s a confident player who wants to do whatever it takes to win at the highest level, and he also sounds like someone who wants to do just that in Chicago.
“I really wanted to be there,” Terry said when asked about his Chicago workout. “It’s crazy, I called my agent immediately after, like, ‘that’s where I need to be.’ It’s great. They drafted me, and I’m so happy man.”
What Does/Doesn’t He Bring to the Court?
Terry might not offer the rim protection this Chicago Bulls team needs, but he does reflect the defensive identity this front office has strived to establish since coming aboard.
Arguably Terry’s most NBA-ready skill is his on-ball defense. He possesses an elite seven-foot-one wingspan with excellent lateral quickness, making him a perimeter pest and active help defender. Terry repeatedly jumped passing lanes in college to turn defense into offense, and his motor never runs out of oil.
Offensively, Terry can make some jaw-dropping passes. A quick watch of the film shows advanced court vision and an overall strong feel for the game. Not only does he accept the role of keeping the ball in motion and setting up his teammates, but it’s something he loves to do. Likewise, he’s a quick-twitch athlete who will constantly move off the ball and likely develop into quite the cutting threat.
Terry’s fit inside the Bulls’ preferred style of play that dominated the early portion of the season is obvious. Turning defense into offense, hustling in transition, moving the ball in the halfcourt, and pestering ball-handlers along the perimeter are all skills Terry will offer almost instantly.
So what’s the problem? Well, Terry averaged just 8.0 points per game during his sophomore season with the Wildcats. While he’s a solid ball-handler and exquisite passer, he isn’t someone who has shown he can create much offense for himself. Not to mention, how reliable his jump shot is remains up for debate.
Terry’s 36.4 percent success rate behind the arc was encouraging enough to like his potential as an eventual catch-and-shoot threat, but the lack of volume in college raises some eyebrows. And Terry knows it:
“Once I get with the right staff and they pour into me and I pour into them and we connect, the sky’s the limit. I’m going to want those guys to push me,” Terry told For The Win. “I want them to help me with my shot and help me with my shot creation. I can dribble, but people have questions about my jump shot. I’m definitely confident, but I want everybody else to believe in it, too.
Considering the Bulls shot the fewest 3-pointers per game of any team last season, which helped sink their ship in the postseason, I know this news isn’t the best. But a 36.4 percent clip is something to build upon, and it’s encouraging to hear Terry recognize that himself.
Of course, the lack of shooting could also impact his effectiveness as a playmaker. Terry needs to show some upside as a scoring weapon at least, or defenses will come to expect the pass.
The other big area Terry will have to improve is in the weight room. As great as his frame is, he isn’t the strongest. If the Bulls genuinely want him to be as versatile as he can be, he’ll have to add weight to hang with bigger wings.
The Bulls didn’t land a superstar, and no one should have expected them to with the No. 18 pick. But what they did add is a player with a strong NBA foundation who still has a lot of room to grow into his own. With Zach LaVine bound to sign a max contract, DeMar DeRozan coming off an All-NBA campaign, Patrick Williams (hopefully) on the rise, and a healthy Lonzo Ball returning, the Bulls are looking for high-end complementary pieces. Terry could be just that.