Bulls Summer League: Takeaways on Dalen Terry, Marko Simonović

Bulls Summer League takeaways, from Terry to Simonović originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

There’s an old adage that’s spoken often at NBA Summer League.

“It’s only summer league . . .”

The qualifier is emphasized to remind that July is a long way from October and even a longer way from June. That’s when the NBA Finals are staged and feel-good stories of first impressions from first-round picks and undrafted players trying to carve a niche are long forgotten.

Nevertheless, these first impressions sometimes still can be intriguing. Or at least matter more than final scores and box scores.

Whether “it’s only summer league” or not, one can watch the action and form takeaways. Here are several on those who mattered for the Chicago Bulls in Las Vegas this year.

Dalen Terry

The first-round pick’s tournament ended in unfortunate fashion when he suffered a right hamstring injury during the second quarter of Saturday’s finale and didn’t return. But through the first four games, Terry provided plenty of evidence to justify why management is high on his potential.

For starters, he showed he can do four things immediately that should translate to the next level of competition: He competes. He works from a base of a defensive mindset, able to impact games without scoring. He sees the floor well. And perhaps most impressive, he’s a strong finisher who also gets to the free-throw line.

Sure, there’s plenty to work on, including a jumper that doesn’t appear to have the same release point from shot to shot. And his vision sometimes leads to trying to make the home-run play and careless turnovers.

But the fundamental aspects pop as well. He can pass off the dribble on time and on target with either hand. And his screen navigation on defense is already somewhat advanced.

There’s a lot to like.

Marko Simonović

The second-year big man talked confidently in the lead-up to games, citing his addition of 25 pounds to fare better physically and a off-court comfort level that had mentally strong as well.

It showed in the Bulls’ opener against the Mavericks. Beyond his monstrous numbers of 27 points and 13 rebounds, he played with force and poise, scoring the game-winning basket in overtime and two clutch baskets to force the extra period.

Simonović also closed strong, shooting 11-for-15 during his 26-point outburst against the 76ers.

The issue — and perhaps lasting memory — is that he came up small in his matchup against fellow second-round pick Jericho Sims of the Knicks. Simonović scored 1 point on 0-for-5 shooting while Sims had his way with the Bulls' big man physically.

Simonović has dominated G League competition before. His next step has to be playing more consistently against NBA-level players, of which Sims is one.

The 2020 second-round pick did show stronger aptitude at making passes off short rolls in screen-and-roll situations. And he’s clearly stronger. But he remains a work in progress, with rotation minutes behind Nikola Vučević and Andre Drummond — or even at power forward — a longshot.

John Bryant

Leadership is hard to fake but easy to spot. And the Bulls assistant coach, who helmed the entry in Las Vegas, displayed it calmly and consistently.

From his pre-practice habit of having players share thoughts and opinions about each other to his vulnerability in talking about losing his father to COVID-19, Bryant represented the franchise with class.

Players talked openly about his presence. Bryant, in his third season with the Bulls, said the experience offered him a whole new appreciation for Billy Donovan. He’ll be a better assistant next season for it.

The others

  • Perhaps only the developmental intrigue of big man Makur Maker can keep Malcolm Hill from snagging the Bulls’ second two-way contract. The former University of Illinois’ star’s play certainly warranted it. Hill shot 10-for-20 from 3-point range and, similar to his spot NBA minutes from last season, never looked unfazed by the moment.

  • It’s easy to see why the Bulls quickly signed undrafted Justin Lewis to their first two-way deal. The Marquette star possesses athleticism and toughness. He tries to dunk anything near the rim. And he rarely makes mistakes, staying in his lane and within his game. He has the base to be a solid, two-way player.

  • Carlik Jones may not be with the Bulls when training camp begins, but he belongs in somebody’s if it’s not in Chicago. The undrafted point guard out of Louisville, who split five NBA games between the Mavericks and Nuggets last season, capped a spectacular summer with a 15-point, nine-assist, five-steal effort. Jones shot the ball well, ran the team with poise and pace and competed defensively.

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