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Dalen Terry is ready to make the most of his opportunity with the Chicago Bulls

Will Gottlieb Avatar
December 21, 2023

Injury can spell opportunity, and with Torrey Craig out for a projected 8-10 weeks, Dalen Terry has a chance to step into his biggest role yet for the Chicago Bulls.

And in Wednesday’s 124-108 complete team victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, Terry played a season-high 21 minutes. He scored just two points, but grabbed five rebounds, dished out three assists and did so with a +11 in the plus-minus category.

“Just be myself,” Terry told CHGO. “They don’t really ask me to do anything that they know I’m not capable of. Obviously, I’m a player. I’m a jack of all trades. So I feel like what Torrey brings, I can bring a lot of those things, but it was never like just be like Torrey Craig it was more like just be yourself.”

What exactly are those things?

“Being ready to bring shoot the ball, bringing down the ball, showcasing what I’ve been doing in the G League,” Terry said. “Just pushing the tempo. Obviously our team wants to play fast, we play better when we’re fast. Just being a guy that can play all positions, running down the court, setting screens, making reads, hitting shots. Just doing every little thing for our team and having fun doing it. Doing it with a smile on my face.”

With more runway to make mistakes, Terry felt more comfortable testing the limits of his game without the fear of failure. That can be a tough mental challenge for young players who know any mistake could cost them minutes.

“Yeah, it’s tough,” Terry admitted. “It’s definitely a mental battle. Like just not trying to go in there and not mess up. But I’ve been doing this my whole life, I might as well try what I know. Like today, I made a turnover to Drum, I wouldn’t have made that mistake before because I wouldn’t have passed it…I’m willing to take risks now. Not like taking risks in a bad way, but just feeling like you can make a different type of move because you’re more comfortable out there.”

But with more freedom, Terry was able to display his passing ability.

“That’s my calling card. It’s always been that way. I know when I got drafted even when I was in college, I was just known as a point guard, a big guard that can make reads. I really have fun making passes. I felt like I score when a guy hits a shot. I know like last year, I wouldn’t have made those passes sometimes. So now I’m definitely more comfortable making passes, smiling, laughing with my team.”

Terry brings a joy to the game that the Bulls have sorely lacked at times this season. His energy, enthusiasm and excitement bring some flavor to a team that is clicking on all cylinders. They’re passing the ball (25 team assists), hitting threes (18-of-34), crashing the offensive glass (seven offensive boards) and getting out in transition. All things that fit into Terry’s game.

Well, the shooting is still a work in progress.

“I airballed that three, I don’t know what happened,” Terry told reporters. “I got too excited…If I hit that three, it would have been a lot better.”

Terry also chipped in on the defensive end, guarding LeBron James on multiple stands.

“Shit, he’s strong as hell,” he said. “You gotta stay solid.”

Terry is a Kobe Bryant guy, but acknowledges James’ greatness (of course), and relished the opportunity to have a chance to compete against him.

“He’s definitely one of the greatest players of all time,” Terry said. “Just hearing these guys talking about a him before the game. I never even got to guard him, so me being left on the island a few times, I stood my ground I think three times. I think he scored one time.”

Terry has some intriguing skills. In previous chances, like Summer League, he was overtasked as the primary creator. But now, playing alongside DeMar DeRozan in an up tempo offense, he should be able to unlock more of the things he does well — passing, defense, transition, cutting.

And now he has the chance to put those skills on display, and make the most of this new opportunity.

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