The Chicago Bulls begin summer league play on July 8 and all eyes will be on first-round rookie Dalen Terry, the 18th-overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. And it won’t just be eyes within the Bulls organization, either.
Simonovic has also received attention for noticeably bulking up over the offseason.
But Terry, whose energy has been raved about since draft night, might have a better chance to make an immediate impact than expected. As one rival executive told Heavy’s Sean Deveney, Terry has an “NBA-ready” skill right out of the box.
Terry Already Has Fans Around the League
The 6-foot-7 athlete played guard in college. But Bulls general manager Marc Eversley has already said he projects Terry will be more of a wing at the NBA level. His versatility was intriguing to Bulls vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas.
Even if he doesn’t get the opportunity to display that in full right away – he will be on a roster that has three All-Star caliber players – Terry has another skill that should get him on the floor.
“The thing about Terry that I think everyone liked was that he is NBA-ready off the bat with his defense alone. It was the same way with Ayo, and I think that can get you on the floor with [Bulls head coach] Billy Donovan right away. Him and Ayo and Caruso coming off the bench could be a hell of a defensive trio.”
Dosunmu, the 38th-overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, was the Bulls’ only draft choice. He earned All-Rookie honors after averaging 8.8 points, 3.3 assists, and 2.8 rebounds while shooting over 52% from the floor and over 37% on three-pointers.
If Terry can replicate that, Donovan won’t be able to keep him off of the floor.
“I don’t know if Terry is ready offensively”, the executive said, “if he can make enough shots to keep him out there. You can’t have a black hole out there offensively. It could take him some time before they’re comfortable.”
Terry’s Showcase in Las Vegas
Terry’s selection came as a bit of a surprise to those expecting the Bulls to either draft a rim protector or trade for one. Neither happened as the team took the late-rising Terry to bolster their wing depth.
His shaky offense was a concern to some pre-draft. He was projected by some to go in the latter stages of the first round rather than the middle where the Bulls took him.
In summer league, he will have ample opportunity to prove why he was the right pick.
As Karnisovas noted during Terry’s introductory press conference, the former Arizona Wildcat improved his touch from beyond the arc as the season wrapped up. He shot 60% on 2.5 attempts during the Pac-12 and NCAA Tournaments.
He also averaged 12 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.0 assists (to just 1.7 turnovers), and 1.8 steals.
The Bulls Big Three posted a 114.1 offensive rating, ranked in the 64th percentile, per Cleaning the Glass. But their defensive rating was 114.6 giving them a minus-0.5 net rating.
That ranked in the 32nd percentile.
Karnisovas acknowledged the Bulls’ need to improve on defense if they want to take that next step. Terry could go a long way to helping in that regard if he can make enough shots to keep the defense honest.
Don’t Fall Into the Trap
Donovan mentioned one thing Terry cannot do is lose his enthusiasm and energy throughout an 82-game season. How he bounces back after playing poorly or very little will be important.
Terry also cannot fall into the trap that we have seen from Patrick Williams over the last two seasons.
Williams has displayed aggression when on the floor alone but can disappear when on the floor with the Bulls’ top players. Terry carries a similar warning with him into the league. But his response to questions about that was he was simply playing his role.
His role in summer league play will be a starring one. And, while that won’t be his role this coming season, he can still have an impactful one right away with his tenacity and defense.