The Chicago Bulls may have better frontcourt depth than expected. If what we saw from second-year forward Marko Simonovic in the Bulls’ summer league opener is any indication, they could boast more versatility than expected too.
Simonovic led the Bulls to a 100-99 overtime victory over the Dallas Mavericks including knocking down the game-winning free throws.
He finished with a 27-point, 13-rebound double-double notching four points in overtime.
But it was his emphatic putback at the end of regulation to send the game into overtime that got social media buzzing. It also had his teammate and coach propping up the work Simonovic has put in this offseason.
The Dunk Heard Around Las Vegas and Chicago
Simonovic spent most of his rookie season in the G League. He averaged 15.6 points and 7.8 rebounds with the Windy City Bulls. But, when called up to the big club, he often looked overmatched physically averaging just 1.9 points and 1.1 rebounds over nine games.
That was not an issue in the 2022 summer league opener and fans took notice of this early putback and the resulting image below that followed.
This user responded to that by likening Simonovic’s photo to a famous portrait of French military leader Napolean Bonaparte.
Others jokingly suggested this is a sign of future dominance from the Montenegrin big man who added 25 pounds this offseason. He also trained with Bulls center Nikola Vucevic who is a two-time All-Star.
All of this was in celebration of Simonovic with the Bull’s social media team acknowledging the fan-created “Marko Hours” in the clip.
If we see more of that this season, the Bulls will be thrilled.
Terry Sounds Off on Simonovic
After the game, The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry asked Simonivic if his flex after his tip-in was intentional since it happened right in front of the Bulls’ bench and head coach Billy Donovan. Simonovic quickly denied even realizing where Donovan and the staff were he did it.
Bulls rookie Dalen Terry, however, was just as quick to suggest otherwise while giving props to his new teammate.
Bulls’ summer league head coach John Bryant also offered praise for Simonovic’s efforts in the opener and throughout this offseason.
Simonvic hit a bit of a rough skid during the game, going just 2-for-3 from the floor in the second quarter after going 3-of-6 overall in the opening frame. He still finished shooting better than 52% from the floor.
He did go 0-for-3 from beyond the arc.
For Simonovic, that meant maintaining his aggression level when things did not go right in addition to not getting pushed around by what is mostly younger competition. He still has a long way to go. But he did that making this a solid first step.
On to Game 2
Simonovic will certainly want to replicate the three blocks he recorded.
He may be getting close to showing just why that is. He will have to do it consistently, and prove he won’t be overwhelmed at the highest level. If he can do that, a perceived weakness could become a strength for the Bulls.