Bulls

Guest list: Bulls announce 13 players waking up in Vegas for summer league

Guest list: Bulls announce 13 players waking up in Vegas for summer league

Although the rebuild has been the talk of the town lately, let's not forget that the Bulls are reigning summer league champs. 

Defending their rather meaningless crown, however, takes a backseat to other storylines as play begins in Vegas this week.

The highest intrigue item is catching a first glance at young question marks that could be part of the Bulls' core for years to come. Among them, Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen - two highly touted pieces acquired in the Jimmy Butler blockbuster - will be making their Bulls' debut in Sin City, the team announced Wednesday. 

Here's a look at the full roster: 

Brady Heslip, G

The Baylor product is known as a sharpshooter, especially from beyond the arc. Now 27, he's averaged 18.5 points and connected on 43 percent over the course of his G- (formerly known as D-) League career. 

Antonio Blakeney, G

Blakeney was a top prospect coming out of high school. The 20-year-old was named a 2015 McDonald's All-American and chose to take his talents to LSU to play alongside Ben Simmons. Unlike Simmons, who was selected No. 1 in the 2016 NBA Draft, Blakeney went undrafted in this year's event. The guard averaged 12.6 points for the Tigers last season.  

Ryan Arcidiacono, G

One can only hope Arcidiacono brings Jim Nantz's tie to Vegas. The guard was given the oddly egotistical gift after starring on the NCAA champion Villanova squad in 2016. He signed with the Spurs after that dream run and spent the duration with their Austin affiliate. 

Paul Zipser, F

Zipser came on strong near the end of last year, even getting run in the Bulls' first-round loss to the Boston Celtics. He averaged 5.5 points on 40 percent shooting in Fred Hoiberg's offense. 

Dejan Todorovic, F

The 23-year-old Serbian played for Bilbao in Spain last season. Todorovic came off the bench for Bilbao, averaging just over 5 points per game and made 3-pointers at a 37 percent clip.

Cameron Payne, G

Payne didn't make any impact after coming over from Oklahoma City in a midseason trade, but with Rajon Rondo out of the picture, the 22-year-old will have more opportunities. 

Lauri Markkanen, F

The Arizona product has been touted as a big that can immediately stretch the floor. That's a skill the Bulls covet considering they ranked 25th in 3-point shooting. 

Chris Walker, F

Another former McDonald's All-American, Walker went undrafted out of Florida in 2015. He spent last year with the Rio Grande Vipers, the Houston Rockets' development team. 

Kris Dunn, G

Dunn's rookie woes have been well chronicled. He shot under 40 percent and - different from many other lottery picks - is already 23. The Bulls are high on him, though, and we'll catch a glimpse at his game in Vegas. 

Amida Brimah, C

The 7-footer played four years at Connecticut, shooting near 60 percent in all of his seasons. He's also a rarity in the sense that he shoots fairly well from the line. 

Denzel Valentine, G

Although he was pitched as a guy who could contribute right away, Valentine's rookie season was a disappointment. He shot 35 percent in 51 games. Not ideal. 

Jerrelle Benimon, F

Benimon has bounced around from the G League to China in his professional career. In college, he didn't break into the rotation at Georgetown and ultimately transferred to Towson.

Nikola Jovanovic, C/F

Another shooting big, Jovanovic played his college ball at USC. He eclipsed 45 percent from 3 last season in the G League. 

Bring your own stuffing: Jazz swat Bulls on Thanksgiving Eve

Bring your own stuffing: Jazz swat Bulls on Thanksgiving Eve

On the second (turkey) leg of a back-to-back, the Bulls didn't bring much energy in a 110-80 loss to the Utah Jazz. 

Instead of diving into the nitty-gritty of the uninspiring effort, though, we decided to just serve you up a Thanksgiving meal of highlights. Here are the top blocks from Wednesday's game: 

5. Derrick Favors is no Rudy Gobert -- that we know -- but imitation is the highest form of flattery. 

4. Are Bobby Portis chase down blocks the new LeBron James chase down blocks? Let's not get carried away... yet. We'll chalk it up to just a real nice hustle play by Bobby. 

3 and 2. Speaking of hustle plays... Jonas Jerebko isn't exactly known as a dominant defender. He sure made it hard for the Bulls on what should of been an easy fast-break bucket in the third quarter, though. First, he silenced Kris Dunn's reverse. Then, he met Lauri Markkanen at the rim and sent the rookie packing. The Baby Bulls 2.0 can blame it on fatigue, but they just handed Jerebko a highlight tape for years to come.   

1. In fairness, Jerian Grant had to get up a shot as the quarter was coming to a close. It is as vicious as it looks, though.  

Just as we all predicted, two rookies stole the show in L.A.

Just as we all predicted, two rookies stole the show in L.A.

There's not often hype surrounding a game between two of the NBA's worst teams, but Tuesday's Bulls-Lakers matchup was intriguing to many because it offered a chance to see a pair of top rookies compete. 

Oh, but you didn't think we meant Lonzo Ball and Lauri Markkanen, did you?

Nah, it was two different, less-touted first-year players that ended up stealing the spotlight at the Staples Center. 

Kyle Kuzma and Antonio Blakeney may not be household names, but they sure played like they were in the Bulls' 103-94 loss. 

Kuzma, the Lakers rook drafted 27th overall, has been a spark for Luke Walton's squad all season long. Boasting a terrific scoring arsenal, the Utah product carried the load for the Lakers' offense in the first half, dropping 18 points on 6-for-9 shooting. He finished the game as L.A.'s leading scorer with 22 in 40 minutes. But if you still need a more in-depth scouting report on Kuzma, just let Lonzo break it down:  

More importantly for Bulls fans, though, was the play of their undrafted guard who's signed to a two-way deal. 

Blakeney, the unofficial Summer League MVP, came off the bench on Tuesday and immediately left his mark on the game. The 21-year-old out of LSU posted 15 in the first half, finishing through contact as well as connecting on outside jumpers. 

Blakeney's shooting isn't reliable quite yet, but his energy has clearly influenced Hoiberg's rotation. The guard went from playing one NBA minute in the Bulls' first 11 games to playing 75 in the last four. Given that his two-way deal allows him to only spend 45 days with the team, it'll be fascinating to see how creative Gar Forman and John Paxson will get with his contract if this type of production continues. 

In a season that's obviously going to have its share of rough moments, an offseason flyer hitting is a huge plus for the rebuild. 

As for the recognized rookies, Lonzo's shooting woes persisted and Markkanen had maybe his worst offensive performance of his young Bulls career. Combined, they finished 7-for-30 with 21 points. Not ideal.