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. 

Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career

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AP

Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career

Don't tell Wendell Carter Jr. the center position is a dying breed.

The 19-year-old rookie hasn't exactly been able to ease into the NBA, finding himself up against a handful of All-Stars and powerful frontcourts just five days into his career.

It culminated Monday night with a date against Mavericks center DeAndre Jordan, and once again the seventh overall pick held his own. It was much of the same as it was against Philadelphia's Joel Embiid and Detroit's Andre Drummond last week (and Nikola Jokic in the preseason finale): some good, some bad, plenty of poise and zero backing down. The NBA is unforgiving, but this could very well be the toughest stretch Carter faces all season.

"He’s playing against top level centers now," Fred Hoiberg said before Monday's game. "It’s a great experience for him. He’s going to learn and get better and he plays within himself, we will continue to look for him to be more aggressive."

He was as aggressive as the Bulls have seen him against Jordan and the Mavericks. He blew by the 20 and 18 minutes he played in the first two games of the year, totalling 32 minutes. His final line won't tell the story - 4 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and a block - of a Carter who defended well at the rim, picking and choosing his spots on when to attack shots and when to simply use his verticality.

He wasn't credited for a block but he contested a Jordan dunk that turned into a Bobby Portis dunk on the other end. Plus-minus isn't always a good indicator of a player's worth, but Carter was a +5 in a 14-point Bulls loss. He even attempted a corner 3-pointer early in the shot clock, showing no hesitation. Carter's had his moments, but it's also apparent he's got a 19-year-old body going up against veterans each night. That'll come with time in the weight room. For now the experience is 

"I appreciate the fact I’m able to play against these very talented bigs early in my career," Carter said after the loss to the Pistons. "What I need to work on is I have to get stronger; that’s the first thing I recognize; just being up against the best. I love the competition. It’s always a great feeling going against the best."

What the Bulls are finding out is they have a player mature beyond his years. As he progresses he'll continue to get more difficult assignments. He had his rookie moment late in Monday's loss, committing a turnover in the backcourt after the Bulls had cut the deficit to five with 35 seconds left. The fouls are also an issue, as Carter has committed 10 in three games (after committing 17 in five preseason games).

That doesn't necessarily seem important for a Lottery-bound team, but considering the continued struggles of Robin Lopez (and Cristiano Felicio is entirely out of the rotation) it is. Lopez had 2 points and 1 rebound in 10 minutes while committing five personal fouls. In three games he has 11 personal fouls and 11 points, and also has more turnovers (five) than rebounds (four). If the Bulls are going to compete until Lauri Markkanen returns, Carter will need to hover around the 32 minutes he played Monday.

He'll get a much easier test on Wednesday when the Charlotte Hornets arrive in town. Cody Zeller doesn't exactly have the credentials of a Jokic or Embiid, meaning Carter may have a little more room to work. 

The Bulls know they have something in Carter. It'll be abother month until they can deploy him alongside Markkanen, but if the first three games are any indication, Carter won't have any problems matching up with some of the league's best.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Moral victory for the Bears?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Moral victory for the Bears?

David Schuster, Adam Jahns and Patrick Finley join Kap on the panel.

0:00- Dave Wannstedt joins the panel to discuss the Bears 38-31 loss to the Patriots? Was it a moral victory? Is Matt Nagy crazy to say Mitch Trubisky didn’t play that bad?

13:00- Joe Girardi pulls his name out of the Reds managerial search and Jon Heyman reports that industry sources believe he might wait to see if there’s an opening in Chicago. What are the chances that he replaces Joe Maddon?

14:30- Adam Amin joins Kap to preview the Bulls/Mavericks game and discuss the lack of defense in the NBA.