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It’s that time of year.
Las Vegas Summer League has become one of the best parts of the NBA season. It’s the only time of year every media member, coach, GM and team staffer is in the same place all at once. It’s a chance for players and coaches to put their skills on display, for front offices to find diamonds in the rough and for media to schmooze their way through the week.
It’s all really fun, until you look at the forecast.
It’s gonna be hot, but that’s okay. We have some Bulls basketball to watch and the CHGO Bulls team will be on-site to chronicle all of it.
Here’s everything we’ve learned before the games kick off:
The Bulls have been preparing for Summer League over the past week. Bulls assistant coach John Bryant is taking the reins as Summer League coach, alongside some of the other members of the Bulls staff, including Paul Miller (Assistant to Head Coach), Chris Kent (Video Coordinator), Billy Donovan III (Video Coordinator), Marko Andjelkovic (Skill Development) and Henry Domercant (Windy City Bulls Coach).
“Honestly, personally, I want to get out of it to empower others,” Bryant said. “This is not about me. I told the staff and the team from Day 1 that this is not about me. I know my name says head coach, but I’m here to empower them, and I’m here to help the players improve.”
This is a really cool opportunity for some of the Bulls staff to step up and have more responsibility and a larger role with the team.
“The one thing as a head coach, which I will now have more respect for Coach (Billy) Donovan, you’re always thinking,” Bryant said. “Always thinking about the team. You’re always thinking about the next drill. You’re always thinking about an ATO (after timeout). You’re always thinking about something. My kids want to play, and I’m thinking about what drill I want to run, and that’s fun.”
“I’ve got the bug now. It’s been really fun having this experience so I can help coach.”
All eyes will be on Dalen Terry. The 18th overall pick in last month’s NBA draft is the Bulls’ only big-name talent on the roster and he’s eager to make an impact in every facet of the game.
“I’m very versatile,” Terry said of his role during scrimmages. “So I was all over the court. I was bringing it up, I was rebounding, I was taking the ball out, setting screens. I can’t really give you the role. I was doing a lot.”
The Arizona product has been a stand out during these practices for his “compete level”, even going up against the elder statesmen, Patrick Williams, and gaining his respect. Williams voted Terry the most competitive at the first day of practice on Saturday.
“We guarded each other a little bit,” Terry said. “He’s (Williams) been in the league, so I give him his respect. But I’m going to compete. I ain’t backing down now.”
It was nice to be back in the Advocate Center checking in on practice, but I’m most excited to see how Terry performs against NBA competition in Las Vegas. Bulls fans should expect to see a lot of Terry.
“We want to feature Dalen as much as we can,” Bryant said. “We want to feature Marko (Simonivic) as much as we can. We want to feature these guys who are ours, Bulls players, as much as we can. And then everyone else we’ll sprinkle in opportunities as well.
A year removed from a lackluster rookie season, Marko Simonovic is hoping to finally make an impact for the Bulls.
Despite only playing mop up minutes in seven NBA games this past season, Simonovic averaged 17 points and 9.9 rebounds in 28 with the Windy City Bulls, while shooting 53 percent from the field.
The big story with Simonovic is the 25 pounds he has put on since getting to the NBA. He came into his rookie season weighing only 215 pounds, and is now up to 240. While the summer muscle watch always seems to be a thing, Simonovic could benefit by the ability to finish through contact on short rolls to the rim and playmake through contact.
“His hands have gotten better, along with his body,” Bryant said. “He probably hasn’t gotten the calls that he would want. But he’s able to finish through contact because of the body. And then I’m pairing him up a lot with Ayo. So there was one day in practice where he was just getting roll after roll after roll. His decision-making on those rolls, either finishing or passing it out to wingside, was much improved.”
Simonovic was clearly a ways away from contributing with the big Bulls last year, and 25 pounds of added weight probably doesn’t change that. But it is physical proof of work ethic, and that counts for something.
He’ll be a featured option for the summer Bulls offense and I’m curious to see how he operates as a scorer and facilitating hub.
“If I had to bet on him,” Bryant said, “I would.”
HoopsHype.com aggregated mock drafts throughout the leadup to the NBA Draft and Justin Lewis’ average mock draft spot was 42. His high was 32 and low was 45. Lewis is a big-time player from Marquette who has serious potential as a big wing who can shoot the ball at a decently high level.
The Bulls were able to sign Lewis after the draft to a two-way free-agent deal.
“That man comes with a lot of energy every day,” Bryant said. “The dude comes with a smile, he’s always in the gym. I probably had to kick him out of the gym, I forget what night it was, I said, ‘Hey we have a long week and we haven’t started playing games.’ He’s just in here and his energy is very infectious.”
With only wings on the roster in the 6-foot-7″ to 6-foot-9 ranges being Terry and Williams, Lewis has an opportunity to grab if he wants it.
The Bulls Summer League roster
- Ethan Thompson – Windy City Bulls (NBA G League)
- Marko Simonovic – Chicago Bulls [Pick No. 44 in 2020 NBA Draft]
- Malcolm Hill – Chicago Bulls Two-Way Contract
- Dalen Terry – Arizona [Pick No. 18 in 2022 NBA Draft]
- Carlik Jones – Texas Legends (NBA G League)
- Justin Lewis – Marquette
- Javon Freeman-Liberty – DePaul
- Justin Wright-Foreman – Birmingham Squadron (NBA G League)
- Perrion Callandret – Windy City Bulls (NBA G League)
- Akoldah Gak – Illawarra Hawks (Australia)
- Henri Dell – Windy City Bulls (NBA G League)
- Sindarius Thornwell – ratiopharm Ulm (Germany)
- Makur Maker – Sydney Kings (Australia)
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