The Chicago Bulls tipped off their 2021 Summer League slate Monday afternoon with a matchup against the Pelicans.
After trailing for the majority of the first half, New Orleans came alive late to win by a score of 94-77, underscoring an underwhelming defensive effort from the Summer League Bulls.
Here are four observations from the exhibition:
Patrick Williams’ Summer League debut a tale of two halves
In sum, Patrick Williams’ Summer League debut was a productive one.
Early on, he was persistent in placing his fingerprints on the game offensively. Williams took seven shots in the first quarter, 13 in the first half and 20 by game’s end to lead all players and easily surpass his NBA career-high of 14, which he’s done twice.
He scored his 15 points by way of pull-up jumpers from floater, mid and 3-point range (even canning a deep long-ball off-the-dribble), and putback and transition finishes. He flashed ability as a pick-and-roll ball-handler, drive-and-kick distributor (handing out 3 assists) and fastbreak front-man after pulling down one of his 12 rebounds.
Most of those highlights, though, came from the first half. In the second, he shot 0-for-7 from the field and committed more turnovers (3) than scored points (1). In one stretch midway through the fourth quarter, he lost the ball on a drive for a turnover, then had a 3-point attempt blocked as the Pelicans pulled away. He finished with 15 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists and 5 turnovers, shooting 6-for-20 from the field and 1-for-5 from 3-point range.
But the process is what matters here. The level of offensive experimentation and decisiveness that Williams displayed was noteworthy, even if the results faded as the game went along. These on-ball reps, which Williams is no doubt still adjusting to, will be valuable.
Marko Simonović made a fine first impression
Simonović, the Bulls’ 44th overall draft choice in 2020, had his share of nice moments. That’s just about all you could ask for from the 21-year-old big man in his first NBA-adjacent action.
In 15 minutes, Simonović’s activity on the defensive glass and fluidity running the floor in transition stood out the most. Also encouraging was his fearlessness when facing contact on at-the-rim attempts.
Lowlights included getting thunderously dunked upon early in the third quarter, and missing three slams of his own (though he was fouled on two of them). Head coach Damian Cotter pointed to defensive communication and screen-setting as improvement areas moving forward. But his 13-point (4-for-6 shooting), 5-rebound, 1-steal performance was promising, nonetheless.
Devon Dotson demands your attention
Dotson, who played last season on a 2-way contract, didn’t get much of a shot with the Bulls his rookie year, splitting his time between the end of the bench and the G League bubble with the Cavaliers’ affiliate.
But he looked ready to fight for a roster spot in this one, notching 16 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and a steal. In addition to being a pesky on-ball defender, Dotson is an exceptionally quick downhill driver, a quality he leveraged to convert a few lay-ins and charity-stripe trips. He also made one of his two attempts from deep.
- Pelicans 2021 first-round pick Trey Murphy scored 20 of his 26 points in the second half, connecting on six of nine 3-point attempts for the game. He was tremendous.
- Ayo Dosunmu scored 6 points on 2-for-8 shooting in his debut.
- Ethan Thompson displayed a nice shooting stroke for the Bulls, scoring 11 points off the bench and shooting 3-for-5 from behind the arc.