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The Bulls Summer League is over, here’s what we learned

After nearly two weeks, the Chicago Bulls 2022 Summer League adventure is over. They capped off their campaign with a 119-104 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers, finishing with a 4-1 record overall and a 3rd place finish in the Summer League standings.

Even though it was a short period of time, the five games showed a lot of informative positives and negatives. Let’s dive in.

Lots to Love by Dalen Terry

From the opening tip of the opener, you could tell Dalen Terry was ready for the NBA in terms of defense. He showed off all the defensive tools that made him such an intriguing prospect. He was quick on his feet, staying ahead of defenders in practice and had great reaction speed to challenge the shot or even block it. Terry also did a fantastic job overcoming screens effectively and it really helped his impact as a perimeter defender. His energy in defense really stood out as one of the biggest positives of the Summer League.

Offensively, Terry was effective moving without the ball. He was constantly trying to reduce the baseline if gaps appeared there. This led to some easy dunks/layups for him. Terry was solid in transition attack, moving well in space to find an easy lay-up for himself or others. The passing was as good as advertised with a few good pennies in the first game in particular.

However, the plan appears to be a real work in progress. Although he shot 42.9% from three, he only averaged 1.4 attempts per game. The jump shot will be the biggest room for improvement for Terry. If he can solidify his jump shot and make it more consistent, that can really improve his ceiling as a player.

He also struggled a bit with his ball handling and that led to some erratic decisions/turnovers. Terry averaged 3.6 turnovers per game, which led the team.

Terry suffered an unfortunate injury in his last game, appearing to slip on a wet spot. Luckily it was diagnosed as a pulled hamstring and nothing with the knee, but no indication as to how serious it was.

All in all, you could say it was an achievement in Summer League for Terry. His defense was very encouraging and the energy was clear to see but there are still concerns about his attacking play. He needs to get better at stretching the ground with his jumper and reducing the turnover of the ball. It will be interesting to see how he performs in pre-season and how Billy Donovan uses him in the upcoming rotation.

Justin Lewis showed some flashes

Terry wasn’t the only rookie to have had a good time gambling in Vegas. Justin Lewis, Chicago’s newest two-way player, has shown he could potentially be a rotational piece in the future. He averaged 22.5 minutes during Summer League, scoring 7.6 points and grabbing 4.4 rebounds per game. Lewis was able to intimidate smaller defenders whenever he headed for the hoop and against other strong attackers, his ability to play on the perimeter gave him driving space.

He also ran the floor well, even finishing a few games in transition with a slam. His three-point shooting, which he has in his skill set, was rather ineffective as he only shot 12.5% ​​from deep on 1.4 attempts per game. It will be something he will have to work on and bounce back on in the future.

The aspect of Lewis’ game that should be cause for optimism is his defense. He showed his ability to play as a small ball forward. He did a great job of keeping his feet moving against the smaller defenders and also provided rim protection. There was a lot to like about Lewis defensively as he held more than his on the perimeter, which is always a plus for any power forward.

Signed as a two-way player this season, it’s hard to see Lewis initially getting much consistent action with the Bulls this year. It’s possible he’ll impress so much during training camp that he’ll get some spot minutes at the forefront, but it seems more reasonable to say he’ll spend a lot of time developing with the Windy City Bulls. A mini storyline this season will be how he progresses as a player, especially offensively, in the G-League. There was a lot to like about Lewis during his first stint in the Summer League.

Still room for improvement for Marko Simonovic

In his second Summer League, Marko Simonovic expected him to show the improvements he has made over the season. All in all, it was a bit of a mixed bag from the big man, but he finished the campaign with a very strong performance of 26 points and eight rebounds against Philadelphia. Offensively, we saw he could score effectively in the paint and scored better in the post. He also led the team in scoring (15.6) and rebounds (8.8).

The only big problem was that he struggled against stronger crosses and was easily pushed aside. This showed up at both ends of the pitch and limited his overall effectiveness in some games. The inconsistency was a big worry for Simonovic. Usually with sophomores you want to see them be one of the best players on the court in every SL game.

With Andre Drummond now added to the crosses mix, it’s now going to be even harder for him to get plenty of minutes. It could be another year of development via small stints in the G-League for Simonovic. With his deal not guaranteed next season, he needs to show more improvement soon or the Bulls could go in a different direction in 2023-24. This year’s Summer League has shown some reason to be optimistic for the young big man, but the general question of just how good he can be remains.

Malcolm Hill shone

Malcolm Hill averaged the most minutes of any SummerBull and finished second with 13.6 points per game. There were times when Hill was Chicago’s best player and scorer on the field. He offered spacing by shooting lights from three. Hill shot 50% from downtown on four attempts per game, which were team leaders in both categories. Filming was a big improvement from last season. While we know it’s unreasonable to expect him to shoot like this during the regular season, it’s at least a sign that his jumping is back and his college production beyond. of the arc has translated into the NBA game.

With his goalscoring output during the Summer League, Hill has definitely put himself in contention for a spot on the roster. His play last season and now this summer shows he can at least be a backup guard/winger for the Bulls if needed. The pre-season will give us a clearer view of his status on the roster.

Carlik Jones and Makur Maker impressed

Among the new names on the Summer League roster, Carlik Jones was one of the Bulls’ most impressive players. He averaged 11.6 points and a team-high 6.2 assists while playing 24.7 minutes per game, which was second-most on the team. It was obvious the coaching staff trusted him on the pitch and wanted to see more of his game as the Summer League continued. Jones started all five games and made an impact. He was good offensively, easily reaching the basket and his places. At 6’1, he struggled a bit against bigger guards but was still very active defensively. He led the team in steals per game at 2.2 and was able to cause opposition fullbacks problems.

Makur Maker also stood out, especially given his size and ability to splash shots from deep. The big man made 44% of his three-point attempts during the Summer League and showed a willingness to shoot when he had space. His grips were solid and showed a lot of potential offensively. Javon Freeman-Liberty also impressed at times during the minutes he got.

The Bulls already have plenty of guards on their roster, so it’s unlikely Jones will be there on opening night. With Hill playing very well in Vegas, he’s a strong candidate to grab that last spot either way if he doesn’t make the main roster. But a strong Summer League for Jones opens the possibility for Chicago to eventually add him to its G-League roster. As for Maker, he seems like a player the Bulls should take a flyer on and see how he develops in the organization this season. They already have a ton of big men on the roster, so the G-League is most likely a destination for him as well.