The season is months away, but Chicago Bulls fans can get their first taste of the 2022-23 squad on Friday when the Bulls begin play in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.
The tournament kicked off with two games on Thursday and will run through July 17. A Bulls team made up mostly of rookies, including first-round pick Dalen Terry, and second-year players will face the Dallas Mavericks, New York Knicks, Toronto Raptors and Charlotte. Hornets in the first round.
Here are five stories to follow throughout the summer league.
Assistant coach John Bryant will lead the Bulls in summer league for the first time. After two seasons in Chicago focused primarily on working with centers and forwards, Bryant received the go-ahead from Bulls coach Billy Donovan to lead this summer’s group of young players.
Bryant will be inspired on and off the court by the memory of his father, John, who died last year after battling COVID-19.
“I know he would be proud of me,” Bryant said. “I’m trying to do the best I can every day. When I played, he was just like: ‘Hustle. Do your best. Do your best. Work hard.’ And I’m trying to do that not only for our players and our staff, but also to be a reflection of what he taught me to do. I know he is smiling.
After the Bulls drafted him with the No. 18 pick, Terry will get his first chance to prove himself against other NBA players. With Ayo Dosunmu and Patrick Williams not competing in summer league games this year, Terry’s performance will be the most important for the Bulls.
Terry has been working this summer on his shooting and fitness to make the jump to the NBA. It’s unclear how many minutes he can expect as a rookie, but summer league will provide a beneficial challenge to see how he stacks up against the pros.
A second-round pick in the 2020 draft, Simonović struggled to break into the Bulls’ rotation as a rookie. He appeared in just nine games, averaging 1.9 points and 1.1 rebounds in junk time. But his performance in the G League for the Windy City Bulls (he averaged 17 points and 9.9 rebounds in 28 games) reinforced optimism about his potential future.
The 6-foot-11 Simonović weighed in at 25 pounds in his rookie season and is focusing on strength this summer to prepare for his sophomore season. It won’t be decisive, but his summer league performance could help the Bulls determine if the young center is ready to take on a bigger role behind Nikola Vučević and newly acquired the endorsement of Andre Drummond. Read more here.
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Maker became the highest-ranked modern-era recruit to sign with a historically black college or university when the five-star consensus chose Howard in 2020, but his college career was cut short after he suffered a groin injury two games in his first year. season.
The 6-11 Maker withdrew his name from the 2021 draft and spent last season playing with the Sydney Kings in Australia. After going undrafted last month, he’s making another bet to make it to the NBA as a summer league player with the Bulls.
The summer league roster is filled with former college standouts hoping to impress in Las Vegas and win G League or rookie contracts.
After coming off the bench as a freshman at Marquette, Justin Lewis averaged 16.8 points in his sophomore season. Bryant said Lewis impressed the Bulls coaching staff with his energy and competitiveness in his first practices before summer league.
Javon Freeman-Liberty averaged 21.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists in his senior year at DePaul last season. Freeman-Liberty, a Chicago native and young graduate, transferred to DePaul in 2020 after two years in Valparaíso. He was mentored by his uncle, “Flyin’ Illini” legend and former NBA player Marcus Liberty.
- Friday: Dallas Mavericks, 3 p.m., ESPNU
- Sunday: New York Knicks, 4 p.m., ESPN2
- Tuesday: Toronto Raptors, 4 p.m., NBATV
- Thursday: Charlotte Hornets, 5 p.m., ESPN2
- No. 9, Ethan Thompson, rookie (Oregon State)
- No. 21, Malcolm Hill, sophomore
- No. 25, Dalen Terry, rookie (Arizona)
- No. 26, Carlik Jones, sophomore
- No. 50, Javon Freeman-Liberty, rookie (DePaul)
- No. 55, Justin Wright-Foreman, sophomore
- No. 72, Perrion Callandret, rookie (Idaho)
- No. 95, Sindarius Thornwell, fourth year
- No. 19, Marko Simonovic, second year
- No. 34, Justin Lewis, rookie (Marquette)
- No. 76, Akoldah Gak, rookie (Illawarra)
- #83, Henri Dell, rookie (Estonia)
- No. 99, Makur Maker, rookie (Howard)