Bulls' summer league yields positives, negatives


Bulls' summer league yields positives, negatives

If the NBA's summer league was simply about winning games, the Bulls were easily one of the least impressive teams in Las Vegas. However, unless it's a team that had a woeful record and is simply trying to "change the culture," as the phrase goes, summer league is about developing young players already on an NBA roster, starting to gauge how ready draft picks are to contribute as rookies and unearthing some gems that haven't been discovered yet.
On all three of those counts, the Bulls succeeded despite only winning one game at the summer league, which they concluded Sunday with a blowout loss to Central Division rival Milwaukee. Although the team was probably one of the least-talented groups in "Sin City," the Bulls still managed to land two players, swingman Jimmy Butler and power forward Malcolm Thomas, to the summer league's all-star team.
Butler, heading into his second season, was extremely impressive as a scorer, relentlessly driving his way to the basket, drawing fouls and even knocking down mid-range jumpers. Combined with his defensive acumen and vocal leadership, the Marquette product appears poised to fill the departed Ronnie Brewer's role as a backup wing player, though he'll certainly have growing pains in his first campaign seeing regular action and will likely get better with experience.
Thomas was an absolute revelation and through the Bulls' first four games -- he played fewer minutes in the team's finale -- he recorded a double-double in every outing and led the entire league in rebounding. As an active athlete, finisher around the rim, rebounder on both ends and shot-blocking presence, Thomas, who had a cup of coffee with San Antonio last season and excelled in the D-League, proved he's an NBA talent, as evidenced by the Bulls attempting to not only bring him into training camp, but sign him to a one-year deal. They will, however, face competition for his services.
Marquis Teague, the Bulls' first-round draft pick, struggled throughout the proceedings, displaying that he'll need time to adjust to the professional level. The point guard had ball-security issues, he was torched defensively in a few matchups, his outside shot was often off the mark and while his explosiveness is obvious, it's very likely that the Bulls sign another more experienced player with floor-general capabilities in free agency to provide a safety net behind veteran Kirk Hinrich to start the season, as superstar Derrick Rose will still be on the shelf.

Kendall Gill named to Illini Athletics Hall of Fame


Kendall Gill named to Illini Athletics Hall of Fame

Kendall Gill can add another bullet point to his resume.

NBC Sports Chicago's Bulls analyst was announced as a member of the University of Illinois' Athletics Hall of Fame for the Class of 2018. Gill enters in the same class as his coach at Illinois, Lou Henson, and former Bulls broadcaster Johnny "Red" Kerr.

Gill was a part of Illinois' 1989 Final Four team and earned consensus Second-Team All-America honors the following year as a senior when he led the Big Ten in scoring (20 points per game). He is third in program history in steals with 218.

He went on to have a 15-year NBA career, which included a stint with the Bulls.

Last year was the inaugural class for Illinois' hall of fame.

Three Things to Watch: Bulls-76ers

NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Bulls-76ers

The Bulls square off against the Sixers tonight on NBC Sports Chicago, with coverage beginning at 6:30 with Bulls Pregame Live. Here are three things to watch as the Bulls begin the stretch run of their regular season.

1. The new rotation: Most of the Bulls’ rotation looks the same, but the addition of David Nwaba, Cristiano Felicio and Cameron Payne will have a different feel. The Bulls clearly want to get a look at these guys before the end of the regular season, meaning they’re not just going to get sporadic minutes. They’ll have to play through their mistakes, play out-matched at times and be put in uncomfortable situations. But the Bulls need to see what they have, especially in Payne, who has missed the entire season to this point with a broken foot.

2. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons: They’re quite the 1-2 punch and have the Sixers looking at their first playoff appearance since Derrick Rose hadn’t yet torn an ACL. Yeah, that’s a long time. Embiid just finished his first All-Star appearance (starting in his second year) and Simmons is the front runner for Rookie of the Year. The Bulls will have their hands full with these two. Luckily…

3. Kris Dunn is back: The Bulls wanted to get Dunn some run before heading to All-Star Weekend to play in the Rising Stars Challenge, and he looked healthy in that thumping against the Raptors last week. The good news is John Paxson says Dunn won’t be on a minutes limit, which means he’s healthy. That, of course, is more important than how he’s playing. It’ll be fun to see him, LaVine and Markkanen play together down the stretch. Their numbers together aren’t great, but the Bulls are 2-2 with all three in the lineup, and tanking or not…it’s more fun to watch when those three are rolling.