Sure, it's only summer league basketball, but with little activity on the free agent front for the Chicago Bulls, it's something for fans to talk about and maybe even get a little bit excited about.
And there are a couple of things that are worth talking about.
The Bulls dropped their second straight summer league game last night, falling to the Houston Rockets 96-88, but got impressive performances - some expected, some not so much - from a handful of players.
The story of the night was once again second-year man Jimmy Butler, who continued to tear it up with 24 points and seven rebounds. Butler also made 12 trips to the line, giving him 24 free throw attempts (he made 22) in just two games. He's now ranked fourth among all Summer League players with a 24.5 ppg average.
Butler's development since last season is pretty amazing. He didn't get to participate in any organized workouts last summer because of the lockout, had just two weeks of practice before the season started, then got precious little practice time once the compressed season started. He's obviously a quick study with a solid work ethic; if he can make a meaningful contribution, it'd be HUGE for the Bulls.
He's also proving his durability by playing 36 and 37 minutes, respectively, in the first two games.
Other than Butler, the biggest impression is being made by Malcolm Thomas, a 6-foot-9 forward who has double-doubled in both of the Bulls' summer league games and caught the attention of coach Tom Thibodeau.
Thomas, who is athletic and plays solid defense, currently ranks first among all Summer League players with an average of 13 rebounds a game to go along with his 10 ppg average. I was especially impressed with the way he runs the floor; if continues to play the level he's displayed so far, he'll surely get an invite to training camp.
It was also nice to see Marquis Teague bounce back from a poor showing in his first game as a pro; he finished with 14 points and five assists, although he did have five turnovers. Leon Powe also looked better than he did in the first game, finishing with nine points and six rebounds.
The Bulls have today off, then close the summer league schedule out with games on Friday against Golden State (8:30 p.m. EST), Saturday against the LA Clippers (8:30 EST) and Sunday against Milwaukee (4 pm. EST). Friday and Saturday's games will be telecast live on NBA-TV.
Correction: In an earlier story, Chicago Bulls Strike Out with Radmanovic, I inadvertently left Taj Gibson off the list of players under contract for the Bulls. The Bulls' roster currently stands at 10 players; I'd expect two or three additions to be made at some point.
Sources: Chicago Bulls-Houston Rockets, NBA Summer League Broadband; Chicago Bulls-Houston Rockets box score, NBA.com; Hard work pays off for Butler in summer league debut, CSN-Chicago; Bulls looking for a steal on summer league roster, CSN-Chicago; Malcolm Thomas player profile, NBA.com
YCN featured sports contributor Steve Merritt is - for better or worse - a lifelong Chicago Bulls, Bears and Cubs fan. He's followed the Bulls since 1969, when he tuned in after bedtime on a cheap dime store radio tucked under his pillow.
Other Chicago Bulls articles by Steve:
Chicago Bulls News & Notes: A Fan's View (July 18)