Reminder: Summer League is not the time to draw conclusions. All you are going to do by overreacting is set yourself up for disappointment when the regular season tips off. Got it? Cool.
- MARKO SIMONOVIC IS THE ANSWER TO ALL THE BULLS’ FRONTCOURT ISSUES AND HE IS ONLY MONTHS AWAY FROM HIS FIRST ALL-STAR APPEARANCE. ARTURAS KARNISOVAS IS A GENIUS.
- It’s not an overreaction if it’s true! Fine, in all seriousness, we know Marko Simonovic has a lot to prove before he can earn minutes at the NBA level. But last night sure felt like a step in the right direction, right? Second-year talents are supposed to play the way Simonovic did against the Summer League field. Not only did he look like one of the more comfortable players on the floor, but he truly played with a level of physicality we’ve never seen from the big man. He competed on the glass to the tune of an impressive six offensive rebounds, and he made play after play at the rim as the most pivotal seconds ticked off the clock.
- Summer League head coach John Bryant said he believed fans and reporters alike would be excited to get a look at Simonovic’s development. He particularly praised the big man’s more muscular frame and ability to finish through contact. While he still botched a few chances at the rim last night, there is no question he displayed a newfound strength in the paint. He forced his way to the free-throw line for a 7-8 performance, and he also finished an efficient 10-19 from the field. Defensively, I’d also say we saw some encouraging flashes. He doesn’t project to be a particularly stout shot-blocker, and he still fouled quite a lot, but he can move his feet better than other players his size.
- The question I have now is whether or not Simonovic can provide this much of a spark in the games to come. Dallas didn’t play a lot of traditional size in that matchup, which certainly could’ve played a role in Simonovic’s success around the rim. Yet, at the same time, we did see him average 17 points and 10 rebounds in the G-League last season, so he should be capable of performing this way again.
- After scoring a clutch bucket near the end of regulation, Simonovic flexed in front of Arturas Karniosvas and Billy Donovan. The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry asked him whether or not he knew they were right there. He played coy … Dalen Terry did not. Check it out:
- Speaking of Dalen Terry, the No. 18 overall pick played the way we had hoped in his Summer League debut. His tireless energy was on full display from the opening tip, as Terry flew around on the defensive end and pushed the ball up the court after each inbound. He finished with 9 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds, perfectly reflecting the kind of across-the-court impact he prides himself on.
- My expectation has always been that Terry’s defensive effort would immediately translate to the NBA level. I know Summer League is Summer League, but I think he validated that expectation with his performance last night. Again, the six-foot-seven wing was all over the court, hustling to breakthrough screens and playing some pesky on-ball defense (he even blocked a 3-point attempt!). It’s always encouraging when a rookie has this sturdy of a defensive foundation, as it should buy him extra time on the floor to develop his offensive game.
- Terry also flashed the same playmaking ability that made highlight-reels at Arizona. Instead of hunting for his own shot, he dished several impressive dimes to cutters and open 3-point shooters. For a Bulls offense that was at its best when the ball was hopping around the horn, Terry should be an easy fit.
- Now, it wasn’t all sunshine, rainbows, and Italian beefs for the rookie. Some of my initial concerns about Terry revolved around his ambitious playmaking and off-the-dribble scoring. He coughed up six turnovers over his 31 minutes played, and he really struggled at times driving to the rim (3-7 from the field). What the rookie will need to work on over the course of this first year is tightening up his handles, as well as adding muscle to better absorb contact at the rim. He isn’t a bad finisher by any means, but he just doesn’t possess the strength to compete with size inside.
- When asked about his lack of scoring in Game 1, Terry gave the best answer possible:
- I think we ll have to accept the fact that Terry has to expand his scoring game. The good news is he should have the tools to become a more reliable self-creator, but I’m not sure this will ever truly be his bread and butter. Terry will likely thrive more as a facilitator and off-the-ball scoring threat (whether it be via catch-and-shoot 3s or hard cuts to the rim). And that’s ok! Not everyone needs to be a pure bucket-getter to impact winning (just look at Lonzo Ball, who Terry has been compared to at times).
- Terry is just going to be an absolutely awesome locker room guy:
- I know a bunch of players show-face at Summer League, but rarely do you see this many teammates link up.
- The front office and players stressed many times last season how well this group gets along, and I can’t begin to stress how important that is in today’s league. Sure, things can always change fast, but we know how drama-filled the NBA has become. We also know how fast that can sink a ship (*motions toward Brooklyn*). It’s nice to know the Bulls can have this many big names on the roster (Lonzo Ball, Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Nikole Vucevic, etc.) and just enjoy each other’s company.
- Also, selfishly, it’s so darn nice to have the kind of talent that turns heads when they walk into the room. Whether it be ESPN interviewing DeMar DeRozan mid-game or the NBA social accounts posting about Lonzo Ball merely showing up, it’s fun to see so many players who wear a Bulls uniform under the spotlight again.
- The Bulls gave us a behind-the-scenes look at the Summer League preparation.
- I want Coby White mic’d up as much as possible:
- A new episode of Points in the Podcast dropped yesterday! I gave five random thoughts on the offseason and dove into the Bulls’ somewhat underwhelming free agency:
- Do the Blackhawks want to be the one Chicago sports team that actually spends money!?
- KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF HIM!
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