There was a consensus in the first four days of the Chicago Bulls summer league – Marko Simonovic made a huge advance in the off-season.
Simonovic’s development earned him immediate praise from Summer League coach Jon Bryant and Bulls staff in his first days of training.
“I’m so happy to hear that because I’m really working on it,” Simonovic said on Tuesday. “Every day I try to improve my body and put on some muscle.”
Simonovic weighed 215 pounds when he arrived in Chicago as a newly drafted rookie out of Serbia. Kendra said she gained up to 240 pounds in the past year, an increase of 25 pounds that is most visible in the expansion of her shoulders and chest. The Bulls Media Guide, for the record, still lists Simonovic at 220 pounds.
After debuting for the Bulls in November, Simonovic played most of his rookie ball in the G League with the Windy City Bulls. Although he rotated in Bulls practices throughout the season, Simonovich spent most of the final months of the season away from the first team.
So his new shape and strength came as a surprise to some coaching staff when he hit the gym this month.
“He’s eating less,” Bryant joked on Tuesday after Simonovic’s first practice with the Summer League roster.
But the center says she doesn’t need to adjust her diet.
Bryant – who works with the Bulls’ big men during the season – said Simonovic’s size was a promising sign for the youth centre. Rim safety and paint production are two points of emphasis for the Bulls, who operate with a short lineup that often allows opponents to play down the bully ball.
Bryant thinks the center of the second year still needs to work on his ability to finish through contact, a skill that will only help with increased size and muscle mass.
Simonovic noted that his pick-and-pop skills have improved throughout his rookie season, which could allow him to slot starting center Nikola Vusevic as a similar backup.
“His body has gotten better as well as his hands,” Bryant said. “He’s improved a lot, especially in pick-and-role play.”
Simonovic traveled to Europe for the summer, but kept his sights on the summer league. While abroad, he trained with Vuevi, who speaks Serbian and gives advice on transitioning to the NBA.
The Balkan connection has been strong for the Bulls all summer – the pair are linked with fellow Serbian Nikola Jovanovic to train during the off-season, and Vuevi helps recruit shooting guard Goran Dragic to Chicago during free agency. Of.
Simonovic said the relationship with Vusevic has been crucial to his development in Chicago.
“He’s like my big brother here,” Simonovic said. “He helped me on and off the court.”
Despite Simonovic’s growth over the previous year, Bryant said he was still not sure whether Simonovic would be ready to become a full-time member of the Bulls rotation next season. The Bulls acquired center Andre Drummond in one of only two free-agency acquisitions outside of re-signing Zach LaVine.
But Simonovic thinks he’s grown enough to become a consistent feature of the Bulls’ rotation, even if those minutes come as a role player.
“It’s a process,” Simonovic said. “I know it doesn’t all happen in a year. It’s a process and I need time to understand everything and learn everything. … I’m ready to work. I’m trying to get better every day and the NBA I’m working to get a few minutes.”