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Is it time to give Dalen Terry a real chance?

Will Gottlieb Avatar
January 25, 2023

After a brutal loss/should-have-been win against the Indiana Pacers Tuesday night, harsh realities continue to face this Bulls team that just can’t seem to get its shit together for more than three games at a time.

The Bulls are 22-25. They are a game behind the Pacers (who they should have overtaken) for the 9th seed in the East. Though they have been playing better of late, that’s hardly reason to gawk.

Since Javonte Green’s knee injury, the Bulls have stuck with an eight man rotation including the starters plus Coby White, Alex Caruso and Derrick Jones Jr. coming off the bench. But if the Bulls are going to mix it up they should give rookie Dalen Terry a shot to prove himself.

Terry has played 55 total minutes this year, 20 of which were garbage time. Frankly, we haven’t seen many positive signs. He has looked too small to play through contact and the game seems way too sped up for him to utilize his theoretical skillset.

Here he was earlier in the season looking completely overwhelmed by NBA physicality.

But Terry hasn’t gotten a chance at rotation minutes since late December, and over that time, he has bulked up and put up some enticing numbers with the Windy City Bulls.

“I came in at 190, now I’m about 205, 210. I’m skinny though, my metabolism. I can be five pounds lighter one day and five pounds heavier the next,” Dalen Terry told CHGO.

“I feel good playing at that weight. When I go to the G League, I definitely feel a lot stronger at game speed. Now I’m not getting knocked off balance, I’m finishing through contact. Obviously me getting stronger has been a big part of my development.”

In his two most recent stints, Terry has looked significantly more able and interested in absorbing contact, putting his head down and finishing through the trees at the rim.

That’s not something we saw earlier in the season and even in Summer League, when he was playing against a lower level of talent. The rookie attributes that to a focused approach in the weight room, work ethic and forcing himself out of his comfort zone.

“It’s definitely way different from college,” Terry said. “In college, I was just doing a lot of machines. Now I’m actually doing a lot of deadlifts, squats. Stuff to get me out of my comfort zone. I credit the [strength and conditioning] staff here, they got me out of my comfort zone.”

Terry’s progress has been apparent in his seven G League appearances. Averaging 12.9 points, 7.6 rebounds, 5.1 assists and over a steal per game, he has been a focal point of the Windy City Bulls’ rotation. And he’s doing so on efficient 47.8 percent shooting, 50 percent from three (on 2.9 attempts per game) and 80 percent from the line.

“I just feel so much better being able to slide my fit, being able to take a hit,” Terry claimed. “My IQ is getting better just by watching these guys every night. Different decision making and definitely my shot. I feel now like I’m way more confident than I was in Summer League and just in the G League, being able to knock it down. Just being able to take the shot and hit it.”

[More: A day-by-day journal of the CHGO Bulls trip to Paris]

Terry’s jump shot is the other big thing holding him back. Terry shot 32.6 percent on 1.7 threes per game his freshman season at Arizona and improved to 36.4 percent on 2.1 attempts his sophomore year. But his 68 percent college free throw average indicates he’s got a ways to go in that department.

“Definitely trying to get it faster,” he said. “I want to make sure, every time I’m in the corner, it’s money every time. It’s just practice. I practice so much on my shot, man.”

Though he’s been efficient so far playing in the G League, the sample is too small to suggest he’s become a knock down shooter, and his form and comfortability also bring up questions. But he’s a worker, and that’s the key to improving in any area in basketball.

“I go in at night just by myself,” Terry said. “Me and my brother just go get some shots up. Sometimes me and Pat are in there together, sometimes me, Pat and DeMar. I’m always just trying to work on something.”

Terry may be the team’s class clown, but he’s putting work in. He’s staying ready to take any opportunity in front of him. That’s why he asked to play in the G League and why he’s ready for a chance with the Bulls, if he gets one.

“It’s not necessarily easy,” he said. “You just always got to be ready for whatever it is.”

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