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Wednesday, August 17, 2022

4 Things We Learned From The Chicago Bulls’ 4-1 Run In The NBA Summer League, Including Dylan Terry’s Promise

The Chicago Bulls showed the first glimpse of next season’s roster during the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, posting a 4-1 record from July 8 through Saturday.

The tournament provided the first Test for the Bulls’ youngest players, including first-round draft pick Dylan Terry and second-year center Marko Simonovic. Here are four things we learned from five summer league games.

1. Dalan Terry shows promise despite an injury concern.

Testing rookies is always the focus of the Summer League. All eyes were on Terry for the Bulls.

His scoring was respectable—11.8 points per game on 57.6% shooting—but that’s not all the Bulls were looking for off the Arizona guard. Terry is a glue player, and the focus was on his ability to elevate his passing and off-ball movement to NBA level as he continued to work on his shot.

Most important, Terry’s defensive vision translated directly onto the Summer League court. He averaged 3.6 steals, immediately setting the net with big man Marko Simonovic to slide for the net and provide an off-ball defense. After the Bulls struggled with the perimeter defense in the final stages of last season, Terry’s performance showed promise in the form of a defensive upgrade.

Terry’s summer league ended on a poor note – he was ruled out of the final game against the Philadelphia 76ers with a right hamstring injury after playing only 9 minutes, 49 seconds. The injury occurred when Terry attempted to make the cut after receiving a pass outside the 3-point arc from teammate Justin Lewis. Terry appeared to slip into a wet spot on the floor, grabbed himself with both hands directly on the court and called for an immediate sub.

Although Terry initially appeared to be holding his knee, the diagnosis of a hamstring injury appears to be less worrisome for the Bulls. The team did not release any further information about Terry’s injury, but the rookie was in positive spirits later that day, congratulating the team on a strong summer league run in a tweet.

As long as Terry’s injury is short-lived, the Bulls should feel confident about the rookie’s first game against NBA-level talent in Las Vegas.

2. Consistency is still important for Marko Simonovic.

Summer League was hit or miss for second-year big man Simonovic, who focused on consistency.

Simonovic started with a bang, dropping 27 points and converting a game-winning free throw against the Dallas Mavericks in overtime. But he followed up that spirited performance with a points afternoon against the New York Knicks.

That second outing was ultimately an out for Simonovic, who finished the summer league high with 26 points and eight rebounds in the finale against the Sixers. He averaged 15.6 points and 8.8 rebounds in five matches, earning second-team honors for the tournament, a respectable improvement from his rookie season.

But will this improvement be enough to crack the rotation? The Bulls were content to allow Simonovic to develop into a rookie in the G-League, but needed him to develop into a more reliable backup option behind Nikola Vusevic and Andre Drummond.

3. The rogues start the fight for minutes.

The Summer League is even more important for unfinished rookies like Justin Lewis and Jevon Freeman-Liberty, both of whom signed with the Bulls shortly before moving to Las Vegas.

Lewis averaged seven points and showed a mature court vision, especially connecting with Terry. Freeman-Liberty saw a few short minutes but took the offense with confidence when he took the point guard position.

Both players will likely spend most of next season with the Windy City Bulls, a rookie similar to Simonovic. But with Zach LaVine and Lonzo Ball injured early in the season, Lewis and Freeman-Liberty need to be prepared for emergency minutes.

4. Lonzo Ball’s knee injury has gotten bigger.

The news of the Bulls’ biggest summer league came from the side rather than the court. In an interview during the team’s third game of the tournament, Arturas Karnisova, executive vice president of basketball operations, said the Bulls were still not optimistic about Lonzo Ball’s recovery.

The starting point guard has been sidelined since January with a meniscus injury in his left knee that required arthroscopic surgery. His rehab was complicated by a bone injury deep in the knee, which caused persistent pain and forced the Bulls to discontinue their recovery plan several times.

“He’s moving on. That’s about as far as I can tell,” Karnisova said during an NBA TV broadcast on July 12. “He is getting better – maybe not at the pace we would like, but he is getting better. Hopefully he will be ready for training camp, (but) that is our hope.

Bulls players and coaches often cited Ball’s injury last season as the turning point after a strong first four months. While Ball doesn’t make up for the team’s size and lack of shooting, starting the season without their starting point guard would be a major concern.

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World Nation News Desk
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