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. 

Lauri Markkanen will start in his NBA debut; how have other Bulls fared doing so?

Lauri Markkanen will start in his NBA debut; how have other Bulls fared doing so?

One of the fallouts from the fight between Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic is that it unfortunately leaves a void at power forward for the Bulls.

Mirotic suffered a concussion and multiple facial fractures, while Bobby Portis was suspended for eight games on Wednesday. Both players will be out until the calendar flips to November, opening up minutes at power forward.

In the short-term, at least, the starting role will be filled by Lauri Markkanen, Hoiberg said.

Markkanen will join a list of eight other Bulls who started in their NBA debuts. Before Markkanen takes the floor tomorrow in Toronto, here's a look at those other rookies fared.

1983: Ennis Whatley, PG

The first underclassman selected in the 1983 NBA Draft (13th overall), Whatley scored six point on 3 of 6 shooting and tallied eight assists and two steals in his debut. He committed four turnovers but it didn't hurt the Bulls in their 104-97 win over the New Jersey Nets. Whatley wound up setting the Bulls rookie record for assists in a year (662; 8.3 per game) but was traded after two seasons due to substance abuse.

1984: Michael Jordan, SG

The highly anticipated debut of the Bulls' future was inauspicious. Jordan scored 16 points on 5-for-16 shooting, but he did stuff the box score: he added six rebounds, seven assists, two steals and four blocks in a team-high 40 minutes. The Bulls, led by Orlando Woolridge and Quintin Dailey, cruised to a 109-93 win over the Bullets. Jordan bounced back nicely, though, averaging 28.2 points in the following 14 games. You know the rest.

1999: Elton Brand

Brand debuted against the Knicks on Opening Night, scoring 14 points on 3-for-11 shooting. He went 8-for-10 from the free throw line and added to his line with eight rebounds and two blocks in 35 minutes. The Bulls, entering some of the uglier days in franchise history, lost to the Knicks, 84-74. Brand wound up splitting Rookie of the Year honors with Steve Francis, averaging a double-double (20.1 points, 10.0 rebounds) for the 17-65 Bulls. He was traded for high school star Tyson Chandler a year later.

2000: Khalid El-Amin

The only second-round pick on this list, El-Amin started at point guard against a Kings team that wound up winning 57 games. El-Amin held his own in the 100-81 loss, scoring 11 points and handing out three assists in 27 minutes. He shot 4-for-7 and connected on his only 3-point attempt. It was one of 14 games El-Amin started before being replaced by none other than Fred Hoiberg. It was El-Amin's only season in the NBA.

2002: Jay Williams

What could have been. The No, 2 pick in the 2002 NBA Draft shined in his NBA debut, going for 13 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists in 33 minutes. The Bulls topped the eventually playoff-bound Celtics, 99-96. Williams played 75 games as a rookie, averaging 9.5 points and 4.7 assists. A motorcycle accident that following offseason derailed his career far too soon.

2004: Andres Nocioni

Nocioni signed as an undrafted free agent in 2004, and the 25-year-old was ready to play out of the gates. His 17 points were the most of anyone's debut on this list, but he shot 5-for-19 and committed five turnovers in 42 minutes. It wasn't all bad, though, as he grabbed 14 rebounds and had two steals before fouling out in the final minute of double overtime against the Nets. The Bulls fell, 111-106. Nocioni struggled in his rookie season after that, finishing with averages of 8.4 points and 4.8 rebounds.

2004: Ben Gordon

Not exactly the greatest debut for the 3rd pick in the 2004 NBA Draft. Gordon missed all six of his shots from the field and made three free throws in 17 minutes. That was it outside of one turnover and one personal foul. And there's some irony in the fact that Gordon started this game; he only started two other games that rookie season, and was named the Sixth Man of the Year after averaging 15.1 points on 40.5 percent shooting from deep.

2008: Derrick Rose

It was a quiet debut for the eventual Rookie of the Year. Rose, the overall No. 1 pick that June, scored 11 points on 3-for-9 shooting and handed out nine assists in the Bulls' win over the Bucks. Rose went on to average 16.8 points and 6.3 assists in 37.0 minutes that season, and he'd be named an All-Star the following three seasons after that. Ah, the good ol' days.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Niko Mirotic fight affects Bulls now and in the future

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Niko Mirotic fight affects Bulls now and in the future

On an emergency edition of our Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski, Kendall Gill, Will Perdue and Vincent Goodwill react to the Bobby Portis-Nikola Mirotic fight in practice.

Hear what Vincent’s sources are telling him what happened, plus the group discusses how the fight will likely impact the team now — and in the long-term. Will also shares his story on why Michael Jordan punched him during a practice.

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below: