With the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Summer League completed, Chicago Bulls fans should be excited. A 32-point loss to the New York Knicks proved to be a fire starter for Chicago. While the young Bulls did not bring home the first ever Summer League championship rings, they did bring a 4-1 record.
Four strong showings from Chicago earned them a third-place finish. Even though that high ranking does not give them an advantage in the regular season, it does show that some of Chicago’s young talent is ready for their opportunity.
Chicago Bulls Summer League Highlights
In the limited 5 game span of the NBA Summer League, Chicago’s roster demonstrated some impeccable performances. Newly acquired player Dalen Terry had a great two-game stretch scoring a team-leading 20 points against the Charlotte Hornets. Terry’s speed and awareness were on display as he made many advantageous cuts to the basket.
Terry also managed to cut down on his turnovers by adjusting to his role as a ball handler. Terry was not the only player to cut down on turnovers; as a team, Chicago stayed below 18 turnovers in each of their last 3 games. Fast break points were also a common theme for the remainder of the Summer League season. Chicago scored 15 or more points during the last three games in the fast break.
Marko Simonovic was an important factor in the success of Chicago’s Summer League season. Although streaky might be the term used to describe his play by him, Simonovic lead the team in points per game with 15.6. Simonovic was not the only center on Chicago’s Summer League roster to turn heads; rookie Makur Maker has many Chicago fans calling for his immediate signing of him. Maker scored double digits in each of the last four games and featured his outside shot. Going 4 for 8 from behind the arc gives the impression that Maker could contribute this season.
At the conclusion of the season, Chicago ranked near the top in many of the statistical categories. The most prominent of those stats was their average of 94 points per game. Landing third in points per game, Chicago’s average was a product of their league-leading 48.8% field goal percentage. While Chicago’s roster should be proud of how they played, their performance also revealed less-developed parts of their game.
Areas for Improvement
One glaring opportunity for improvement is rebounding. Despite winning their last three games, Chicago only leads the opposing team in rebounding once. Chicago failed to dominate the glass in any of their Summer League games. Averaging 35.8 rebounds per game, Chicago ranked 26th in total rebounds. Chicago’s woes near the basket do not stop there; they allowed 36 or more points inside the paint in all 5 games.
The Dallas Mavericks exploited this weakness in the first game of the season scoring 52 points inside the paint. Chicago’s young roster did not adjust to the inside game and gave up 48 points in the paint during their last game against the Philidelphia 76ers. Chicago also trailed in 2nd chance points 2 out of their last three games.
Overall, the rebounding and defense around the basket were poor throughout the Summer League season. Even though Chicago decreased their turnovers after the Knicks game, they still ended the season with the second most turnovers in the league. Considering the struggles Chicago had maintaining possessions, turnovers could be a point of emphasis for the coaching staff early in the season.
Turnovers can be disastrous to a team because of their ability to turn into points in transition. The Chicago Bulls ended with a mediocre 74.2% average from the free throw line. Even though that average landed them around the middle of the league, it shows that Chicago is not capitalizing on their opportunity at easy points.
Translation to this Season
While it is nice to have success this early in the season, Summer League play does not have much bearing on the regular season. However, it does allow staff to see young players in a variety of situations. With their play in Summer League, both Terry and Simonovic will contend for minutes during the regular season.
If Patrick Williams is not performing at a high standard, he is at risk of losing minutes to Terry. Having Nikola Vucevik and Andre Drummond on the roster will make it harder for Simonovic to earn playing time. Drummond’s presence on the inside will improve Chicago’s defensive and rebounding statistics. After 5 Summer League games, none of the players actively on Chicago’s roster proved that they are a threat from behind the arc; a lack of development in this area could become evident quickly this season.
The Chicago Bulls will continue to be a tough team that can bounce back after losses. Chicago’s formula of defensive-minded guards paired with two explosive offensive players (Demar Derozan and Zach Lavine) will continue to work this season. Chicago had a great Summer League showing and fans should be ready to see their stars build on that foundation.
Featured Image Credits to Embed from Getty Images