Dalen Terry looks the part, while Marko Simonović still in search of consistency
By Drew Stevens
A pummeling at the hands of New York notwithstanding, the Bulls fared pretty well in the Las Vegas Summer League.
They finished with the same record (4-1) as the eventual-champion Blazers and, had it not been for that 32-point loss to a Knicks team bolstered by a combined 183 games of experience, could’ve had a shot at the title themselves.
But team results this time of year are insignificant. What’s more important are the performances of the individuals who could compete for playing time next season. And between Dalen Terry, Marko Simonović and Justin Lewis, the Bulls have three such players.
Before suffering a right hamstring injury Saturday, Terry flashed the instincts that compelled the front office to wedge him into an already crowded stable of guards via the draft last month.
The 18th-overall pick looked every bit the prideful defender, willing passer and fiery competitor he was sold to be. To say nothing of the capability he showed as a finisher.
Terry averaged 14 points on 56.3% shooting from the field and 42.1% from deep entering the team’s finale against the Sixers. He also got to the line 21 times in four games, and connected on 81% of his free throws while there.
Ball control was a bit of a bugaboo for him early on. But, after coughing the ball up 13 times in the first two games, Terry committed a combined five turnovers in the third and fourth contests.
Terry still needs to prove he can knock down threes consistently — he took less than two a game in Vegas. But his defensive acumen, energy and vision will almost certainly buy him playing time right off the bat.
To his credit, the former second-round pick bookended his latest tour in the Las Vegas Summer League in impressive fashion.
Not only did Simonović lead the Bulls with 27 points and 13 rebounds against the Mavericks in the opener. But he also scored two buckets to force overtime, then sank the go-ahead free throw to clinch the victory.
His 26-point, 8-rebound performance against the Sixers was a nice finishing touch. It also helped him garner NBA 2K23 All-Summer League Second-Team honors.
The cause for skepticism though, aside from him committing at least five fouls in four of the five games, is the eight points and 10 rebounds he mustered against the Knicks and Raptors.
Simonović has worked hard to solidify his frame and looks to be an improved passer in pick-in-roll situations. But he’ll need to prove he can hold his own against stiffer competition more consistently while improving his outside shot — he hit just one of his 11 looks from deep — to earn meaningful minutes.
Speaking of finishing strong…
Lewis, whom Artūras Karnišovas and Marc Eversley wasted little time in signing to a two-way contract after he went undrafted last month, saved his best for last.
The Marquette product tallied 11 points, five rebounds, two assists, one steal, and one block Saturday. Lewis left Sin City with a 47.2/12.5/42.9 percent shooting split. However, he did make 50% of his field goals and one of the three triples he took in the finale.
But beyond those counting stats exists a player who possesses the athleticism, toughness and smarts to warrant a look from Billy Donovan next season.
One fascinating order of business left for Artūras Karnišovas and Marc Eversley to address this offseason is the matter of their last two-way contract.
The likeliest candidates are Malcolm Hill, who occupied one such deal last season, and Makur Maker, a former five-star recruit whose groin injury shortened his college career to just two games.
From afar, the choice will come down to how much Karnišovas and Eversley value upside.
And at 6-foot-11, 235 pounds, the 21-year-old Maker has that out the wazoo.