Today, I get to spend some time with a close friend, whom I haven’t seen in roughly 3+ years. He and his significant other made their way to Chicago together for the first time, which means I’m about to hit the streets for a bunch of cheesy Chicago stuff … and I can’t freakin’ wait.
I love showing this city off, even if it means touching The Bean for the billionth time (I better bring some hand sanitizer).
- The Portland Trail Blazers walked off the court as Summer League champions on Sunday night, which I guess is a big deal now. The NBA announced winners will receive a Summer League Championship ring to honor the accomplishment, and … um … ok?
- Look, I’m not one of those cranky farts who complains about participation trophies. But can we all agree it feels a odd to make this big of a deal out of something so inconsequential? While I believe these guys should get a round of applause for the work they put in the past couple of weeks, Summer League is way more about individual growth and development than it is team success. Again, that isn’t to say the Trail Blazers shouldn’t celebrate this win (they should!), but the NBA recognizing it in this way kind of feels weird.
- And, hey, if the NBA really needs to hand out some kind of reward to the winning team, why not make it cool and different! How about a golden bucket hat or a pair of silver shades to help with the hot summer sun? Heck, at least make the ring a Ring Pop! I want to lick my trophy!
- Also, if the league is going to start recognizing these Summer League accomplishments, when is the banner for the 2016 Summer League Bulls getting hung in the United Center? And when is the statue of Denzel Valentine’s buzzer-beater being built!? I NEED ANSWERS!
- My jerky jokes aside, the end of that 2016 game was absolutely bonkers. Rewatch it with me:
- Speaking of Summer League, I just want to give another shoutout to head coach John Bryant. We’ve heard very little about him since he’s joined the organization – which isn’t uncommon for assistant coaches – but this gave us an opportunity to get to know his coaching style a little better. He seems like a calm-and-collected people person, and I think that works especially well when you only have roughly two weeks to get a group of guys on the same page.
- Bleacher Report released a random ranking of the top starting lineups in the NBA, and the Bulls finished a highly-debatable 18th. Here was part of the explanation for why they ranked in the bottom half of the league:
But it’s just not prudent to expect units including DeRozan, arguably one of the worst defensive players in the league, and a 32-year-old Vucevic to perform on D. Those guys are valuable offensive pieces, but both have decade-plus track records of compromising their teams’ defensive integrity.
- Not only do the Bulls have one of the better scoring duos in the league with DeRozan and LaVine, but the defense ranked in the top 10 through January last season when *almost* fully healthy. So while no one is denying the team’s two-way success is fragile, these same defensive questions that popped up last year were instantly answered when a healthy team took the floor. In other words, if Bleacher Report is assuming Lonzo Ball and Patrick Williams are in the starting lineup – which they are – I’m just not sure how these concerns are worthy of holding the Bulls’ starting lineup back this much.
- Anyway, by getting fed up and sharing these mid-summer rankings, I’m probably feeding into exactly what Bleacher Report wants. We can put way more thought into this closer to the regular season, which is when we will have a much better idea of what rosters look like and who’s healthy.
- Say it louder for the people in the back, Will.
- If you want more on the Drew League festivities from this weekend – where LeBron James and DeMar DeRozan teamed up – make sure to read Law Murray’s latest at The Athletic. It’s a great behind-the-scenes look at the chaos.
- Shoutout to the Raptors for trading DeRozan to the Spurs so they could eventually trade him to the Bulls!
- Steve Clifford is a very solid head coach and shouldn’t have been hiding in an assistant role the past couple of years. With that said, the fact he’s returning to the Hornets is all kinds of weird, especially when we consider he was the second choice. At least he knows how to deal with MJ!
- Football is around the corner … which means basketball is around the other corner!
- Juan Soto and Kevin Durant could be on the move in the next couple of weeks. Sports!