Billy Donovan Gets Honest About Bulls’ Promising Prospect

Dalen Terry, Chicago Bulls

Getty Dalen Terry #25 of the Chicago Bulls looks on.

At 10-14, the Chicago Bulls are clinging to relevance in the Eastern Conference playoff picture just under one-third of the way through the regular season. But, as they search for answers and consistency, they aren’t likely to turn to rookie first-round pick Dalen Terry.

The 18th overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, Terry has gone from late riser to summertime surprise to an afterthought for a Bulls team holding onto playoff aspirations.

There is generally little time to develop on the job in those situations.

That is where Terry finds himself – rife with talent and a skill set that would seemingly blend perfectly with what this squad in particular lacks. At the same time, Bulls head coach Billy Donovan is adamant that the rookie needs further refinement before he can be entrusted with a spot in the rotation.

Rookie in a Rush

“The game just has to slow down,” Donovan said per Julia Poe of the Chicago Tribune. “He’s got a really, really good energy and he’s got a good motor but things have got to slow down for him a little bit in terms of reading screens and making decisions. He innately is a very, very good passer, but even in practice you can tell there’s things defensively where he just doesn’t have enough under his belt.”

In six appearances for the Windy City Bulls in the G League, Terry is averaging 14.2 points with 6.8 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 1.0 steals per game. Terry dropped 15 points, seven boards, and five assists in a win on December 9.

But the energetic rookie is shooting just 20% from beyond the arc and averaging 3.8 turnovers at the same time.

“He’s really, really reliable in a lot of situations,” Donvan said acknowledging young players experience growing pains. “So I’m not trying to be overly critical that he’s making mistakes or he shouldn’t do that. But at the same point for him, I think that the speed and pace of the game for him mentally needs to slow down.”

The Bulls have raved about Terry’s energy since he was drafted.

They have also cautioned that he was rather raw and would have to iron out some of the wrinkles in his game – cleaning up his defense as Donovan mentioned and an inconsistent jump shot. He has shown progress with his shot but the only way the game is going to slow down is if he plays.

Terry Needs Time

‘‘It’s hard at times,” Terry admitted via Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, “but you’ve got to always know that everything happens for a reason. This is basically like a redshirt year, where I get to work out all the time. I know I’m not playing, but being a good teammate, being around the guys, that’s bigger than anything right now.”

Terry acknowledged that he could play on a “bad team” but knows the Bulls have bigger goals.

Still, rival executives have said since the summer that Terry is ready to contribute right away. And, while Donovan says Terry is not better than who they currently have in the rotation, a question will come about whether or not he is any worse.

Donovan has already had to demote third-year forward Patrick Williams and second-year guard Ayo Dosunmu from the starting lineup.

He’s also reduced Andre Drummond’s playing time as his effectiveness falling off a cliff since he returned from injury.

The Bulls will face a depleted Dallas Mavericks squad missing, among others, Luka Doncic. This could be a game to work the rookie in for some meaningful minutes in a game the Bulls should win handily.

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