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The Chicago Bulls are rolling at NBA Summer League.
Moving to 2-1 after a 107-99 win against the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night, Javon Freeman-Liberty shined again — his 28 points on 9-of-17 shooting led the way.
With only two of the Bulls’ three two-way spots locked in, Freeman-Liberty is making a strong case for the final spot. And while Summer League is all about uncovering hidden gems, it’s also about evaluating talent already on the roster.
With that in mind, here are three things that stood out from the Bulls win, highlighted by Dalen Terry, Adama Sanogo and Julian Phillips.
What to make of Dalen Terry
Is it concerning that Dalen Terry is 11-of-42 (26.2 percent) during his three games at Las Vegas Summer League?
Terry is a cumulative -5 so far in Summer League. The Bulls are 2-1 with and a combined +10 in those three games.
So far, it’s not great. His jump shot hasn’t progressed (4-of-14, 28.5 percent) and he doesn’t have the wiggle he needs to get downhill off-the-bounce, meaning he’s going to have a difficult time scoring, let alone doing it efficiently.
It’s fair to criticize that aspect of his game, but it’s also important to remember that isn’t the only aspect of his game.
Terry has been very solid defensively, but his passing has really stood out.
He had five assists against the Kings and has 12 in the three Summer League games so far.
Terry’s lack of self-creation hampers his ability to rack up assists, but coach John Bryant has put him in a better position to maximize that skillset by running him off screens where he can get the step on his defender without having to break him down off-the-dribble to do so.
Terry has also been fantastic in transition, generating easy looks (even if they don’t go down) with Lonzo Ball-esque hit ahead passes.
Terry may not be the primary scorer many second-year players, certainly high draft picks, prove to be during their sophomore year in Summer League. And while that is cause for concern, it’s also not the role Terry will be asked to play at the NBA level, nor is it the role that got him drafted in the top-20 in the first place.
Adama Sanogo can play
Fresh off the official announcement of his two-way contract with the Bulls, Adama Sanogo put up another encouraging performance. In just 22 minutes, he scored 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting, grabbed nine rebounds (five offensive) and chipped in two steals and two blocks.
Sanogo has been productive throughout his three-game Summer League stint, but this may have been his best game. The counting stats speak for themselves, but his activity on the court was just as encouraging.
Sanogo displayed a good sense of awareness and positioning on the defensive end, primarily playing in drop coverage. He kept ball handlers in front of him, deterred shots at the rim and even slid over to take a charge.
The Bulls liked to play Nikola Vucevic higher, at the level of the screen, so Sanogo may have to practice his mobility on the perimeter to cut off these drives before they happen, but his quick hands and smart play are encouraging signs that he can at the very least be a solid positional defender.
Offensively, Sanogo is known for his ability to finish around the rim, and has been fantastic in that regard after his 2-of-8 first game. Since then, he’s got 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting.
Sanogo has the outline of a decent jumpshot, albeit a funky looking one, but his primary skill set is rolling to the basket. Though he’s not a traditional high-flying lob threat, he has soft touch and barrels his way through most defenders.
One play that stood out from the Kings game ended up a miss, but check out this quick read and zippy pass out of the short roll to Freeman-Liberty.
Despite showing up on the stat sheet as a missed field goal, this is the kind of play that shows Sanogo can develop into a fairly rounded center prospect.
Julian Phillips making an impact
After an invisible showing in his Summer League debut, Julian Phillips got himself going with a 16-point performance against the Kings on 6-of-8 shooting.
It’s clear Phillips is still adjusting to the pace and physicality of the game — he has looked overmatched and a step behind the play at times — but like Terry, he will first be asked to fill a smaller role at the NBA level before stepping into bigger shoes.
For him, that means spot up shooting, attacking closeouts and playing good defense. And the shooting element was present in full force against the Kings.
Scoring on all three of his long balls, Phillips looked confident, his stroke looked smooth and his release looked fluid and repeatable.
The only time Phillips didn’t shoot the three that was available to him on a kick out, he drove into a floater that beat the buzzer to end the first quarter.
Phillips was also dynamic as an offensive rebounder, grabbing three of his four boards on that end. Phillips wasn’t able to display his athleticism in his first game, but he was able to do so on the offensive glass against the Kings.
The Bulls were the 28th in the NBA in offensive rebounds per game last season, so getting eight between their two rookies in one game could be a sign that the team is focused on turning that area of weakness into a strength.
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