The Chicago Bulls open the Las Vegas Summer League against the Dallas Mavericks at 3 p.m. CT today in the first-game of their five-game slate.
Wins and losses this time of year are meaningless. Sacramento, who owns the most summer league titles in the Association and a 16-year playoff drought, has taught us that much. Taking note of how individual players perform on this stage, however, can go a much longer way in predicting future outcomes.
So, with that in mind, here are three Bulls that should have your full attention and three under the radar players to keep an eye on during the 10-day tournament.
This one was obvious, right?
Dalen Terry, the 18th overall pick in last month’s draft, has been touted for his defense and versatility. But it’s unclear how big of a role he can carve out for himself amongst the team’s stable of guards.
Of course, he’ll shoulder more responsibility in Vegas than he will during the regular season alongside his higher-profile teammates. But pay close attention to how he moves without the ball, attacks rotating defenders and shoots off-the-catch.
That Artūras Karnišovas wasted little time signing Justin Lewis to a two-way contract after the draft two weeks ago says a lot about what he sees in the Marquette product.
At 6-feet-7 and 235 pounds with a 7-foot-2.5 wingspan, Lewis is already built to bolster the Bulls’ frontcourt. The strides he makes as a defender and long-range shooter — Lewis improved his three-point accuracy from 21.9% to 34.9% between his freshman and sophomore seasons — will dictate how long it’ll be before he actually cracks the rotation.
While Dalen Terry was the topic of discussion at the Advocate Center this week, the weight gain of one Marko Simonović was a close second.
The soon-to-be 23-year-old, whom Artūras Karnišovas drafted in the second round two years ago, put on 25 pounds since we last saw him. That increase in size illustrates the lengths to which Simonović is willing to go to contribute.
But the 6-foot-11 Montenegrin has to prove he’s gotten better in other areas — namely finishing through contact, shooting from the perimeter and making proper passing reads — in order to earn meaningful minutes next season.
As Summer League begins, there are other players and storylines have a chance to create some noise that can carry them into the beginning of training camp.
Does Javon Freeman-Liberty have a place in the Bulls organization?
The Blue Demon star is one of those storylines. Recently signing his contract with the Bulls, he is coming off his senior year averaging 22 points a game. With an explosive skillset that features two-way versatility and winning at all cost mentality, Freeman-Liberty has a chance to make his mark in his home town, similar to how Devon Dotson did, serving as a two-way player for the Bulls and their G-League affiliate, the Windy City Bulls.
How real is Justin Lewis?
Officially signing his two-way deal with the Bulls, Lewis makes himself a bonafide two-way player helps the team in major ways. He already fits the Bulls skillset on both ends of the floor, especially when it comes to his versatility. But he also has the mentality of greatness attached to him.
“He always wanted it and wants to be good,” Marquette sophomore guard and teammate Kam Jones said regarding Lewis. “His best asset is how he can score and guard any position.”
If he performs well, he will only be adding to the front court’s pot of gold.
What's next for Makur Maker?
Aside from Lewis and Simonović , the Bulls can also strike gold in the big man sweepstakes if Makur Maker plays at a high level. Maker already made history as the first top recruit to commit to a HBCU in Howard University. Bringing his versatile skillset offensively while bolstering his defensive presence in the paint, the 7-foot center can add to his legacy and help fill up the front court department with his much-needed rebounding and offensive scoring ability.