Iron sharpens iron. That is why the things we have seen from several young Chicago Bulls in Coby White, Patrick Williams, and even rookie Dalen Terry have been so encouraging. It also follows an example this team set when coming together at this time one year ago.
This offseason is critical for the Bulls who find themselves at a bit of a crossroads.
They are a veteran-led team, that’s how they got back into the postseason for the first time in five years, after all. But there are a fair amount of younger pieces on this roster.
The problem is that they have yet to truly distinguish themselves from one another, let alone in the NBA at large. They are, however, taking the necessary steps to do just that and they’re getting an assist from a fairly accomplished source.
Patrick Williams, Young Bulls Training with Paul George
Williams got his summer started on a very significant note, going out the Los Angeles to train with DeMar DeRozan for a “summer from hell”. He would later join his veritable mentor on the hardwood in the Drew League.
Now, we have seen photos of the third-year forward training with seven-time All-Star and Los Angeles Clippers wing, Paul George.
Williams isn’t the only player who is training with the 12-year veteran, either.
A lot was made of Williams’ Drew League performance, namely his 14-point, 14-rebound (with three steals) stat line. But Williams did show some positive signs of his development such as an improved handle.
We’ve seen him finish those so, while it would have been nice, the setup is more important here.
“Williams…is the perfect fit for a Bulls team in need of three-point shooters and wing defenders,” writes Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz, “Injuries wrecked his sophomore season, but Williams still averaged 9.0 points, 4.1 rebounds, and hit 51.7 percent of his threes in 24.8 minutes. He’s the key to taking this Bulls team from a sixth seed to an elite team in the East.”
Williams also appears to have put on some more mass. But that could just be the camera.
Dalen Terry Getting a Head Start
Terry’s “offseason” has been anything but. The rookie came to Chicago right after the draft and began training, head coach Billy Donovan said. He then went out to Vegas to participate in summer league.
The rookie averaged 11.8 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 2.8 assists while shooting 57.6% from the floor and 42.9% from beyond the arc.
But summer league stats do not translate and Terry has an uphill battle for minutes.
“Terry was the Bulls’ 18th overall in the 2022 draft, a 6’7″ guard who will have to fight for rotation minutes to begin the season,” Swartz begins before hedging, “If Lonzo Ball continues to have knee issues and White gets traded, however, Terry could be an important player for Chicago by playoff time.”
Ball’s health has been the lone lingering question around this team. Terry would be hard-pressed to replace the impact the Bulls’ starting point guard can have when he’s on the floor.
But his training this offseason against top amateurs and pros will serve him well in a grueling 82-game season.
He’s certainly applying pressure on his fellow young teammates.
Coby White’s Last Stand
The image with George also showed Toronto Raptors rookie Christian Koloko. But White was not there. He has been overseas with several other NBA players. They are helping to grow the game through the league’s “Basketball Without Borders” program.
Even still, White has been no stranger to the gym this summer either. He was seen working on his handles in one clip and looks to have gotten stronger.
This was something White said he wanted to work on during his exit interview.
Still, the Chicago Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley reported that the Bulls would reevaluate White’s trade value at the trade deadline.
That is something Swartz could see happening.
“White has fallen into a reserve role in Chicago, but he was actually pretty good as a starter last season (16.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 43.7 percent from three). With so many ball-handlers on the team, White could become a trade chip heading into the final year of his rookie deal.”
The Bulls also can extend White to give themselves more time to evaluate him coming off of a full, healthy offseason, the first of his career.
Precedent Set Last Year
The Bulls got off to a hot start last season. They did not suffer their first loss until December 11; some two months into the regular season. That early lead allowed them to withstand their post-All-Star break slide as well as they did.
No one knows if this training will pay off for the Bulls in a similar fashion as last year’s group workouts, particularly the youngsters. It is a risky proposition to solely bank on continuity as the Bulls have this offseason.
Injuries allowed Ayo Dosunmu, who somewhat surprisingly did not make Swartz’s list, to prove his worth as a second-round rookie.
Surely the Bulls would have preferred his development to come under better circumstances.
At any rate, all of the work their younger players have gotten in this summer can do nothing but help them and that, ultimately, helps the Bulls.