We have stumbled into the desert.
Far off in the distance, I can make out the slightest squiggly image of a backboard and rim. The sand slows me down as I try to run toward it, and I’m losing fuel as I suck the final few droplets of Michael’s Secret Stuff out of my Gatorade bottle.
The draft is behind us. Free agency is behind us. Summer League is behind us. All we get is Kevin Durant’s mirage every once in a while. The NBA has entered its annual dead zone, and all we can do now is wait for September to hit.
- The next two months present the perfect time to build up far too much optimism. I’ll talk myself into Andre Drummond being a true difference-maker. I’ll talk myself into Patrick Williams being a Most Improved Player candidate. I’ll talk myself into Zach LaVine making an All-NBA Team. And I’ll talk myself into the cheap re-signing of Derrick Jones Jr., being the biggest steal of free agency. This is what we do as obsessive sports fans. This is the way [*he says in a Mandalorian voice*].
- A 4-1 Summer League performance has only fueled my fire. Dalen Terry showed Bulls fans exactly how he could contribute from Day 1, consistently using his combination of length and lateral quickness to lockdown opponents and disrupt shots. On the offensive end, he kept the wheels moving and showed great potential as a cutter. Alongside his more savvy pro teammates, there is no question he could feast on open looks in the paint.
- Even Marko Simonovic and Malcolm Hill put together several solid outings. Now, whether or not we can expect either to play real minutes like Terry is unclear, but they at least looked like back-of-bench talents worthy of playing “in case of emergency” roles. Anyway, the Bulls highlighted all three players in their most recent behind-the-scenes look at Summer League, so give it a watch to get way too hyped with me:
- Shifting back to Terry for a second, the more I’ve started to think about his rookie season, the more I’ve found myself thinking about Ayo Dosunmu. While the two certainly have their differences (i.e., Dosunmu is more of an on-ball scoring threat, whereas Terry is the opposite), here is a snippet I wrote about Dosunmu during the 2021 Summer League that reflects how I currently feel about Terry:
Not elite in any one category or the most explosive athlete, Dosunmu can make winning plays across the court. He can use his length to grab the biggest rebound, his hands to force a much-needed turnover, his speed to push the tempo in transition, his smooth stroke to knock down a pivotal jumper, and his basketball IQ to execute the perfect PNR dish. With all of that in mind, it’s hard not to picture at least some kind of role for the No. 38-overall pick in the NBA long-term.
- In other words, Dosunmu’s exact role may not have been clear at the time, but what was more than clear was the fact that he could do *a lot.* Terry feels like an extremely similar prospect. In an era of positionless basketball, every team around the league is looking for these kinds of versatile role players. Especially when we consider the injury trouble last season, the Bulls can particularly benefit from having these kinds of positionless talents who can fill multiple voids.
- I don’t know if Terry will receive the kind of extensive playing time we saw Dosunmu get last season, but I do know he’s in a better position than some simply because of his versatility. Indeed, his length in the backcourt and ability to find teammates in transition is also tiny reflective of what we saw from Lonzo Ball (albeit not at nearly the same elite level). But what isn’t at all similar – unfortunately – is Terry’s shooting stroke.
- One area where Terry will likely struggle to help Chicago right off the bat is behind the 3-point line. While he possesses upside as a catch-and-shoot threat, no one on this team can match Ball, who I’m not sure gets enough credit for his success from downtown. I mean, look at this …
- There are a lot of reasons why Ball continues to be described as this team’s engine, but the stat from Basketball-Index above is one of the greatest. Ball is arguably one of the NBA’s best 3-and-D guards. When he’s on the floor, he single-handedly lifts the two-way ceiling of your squad up a level, and we all learned that the hard way last season after January 15th.
- So … are the Suns and Deandre Ayton just cool now? If so, that will take a massive trade chip off the table later this season.
- The Bulls still have time to make the biggest signing of the offseason …
- I might not work on the broadcasting side of things, but Stuart Scott is one of the folks who made me want to pursue a career in sports. RIP.
- *HAPPY SCREAM*
- Gonna look great in Cubbie blue!