The one thing Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan told rookie Dalen Terry that he could not do was lose his love for the game. Though no fault of anyone involved, Terry’s resolve is surely being tested this season in a perpetual holding pattern as he awaits his chance to make an impact.
Donovan recently said that the 18th overall pick needed the game to “slow down” more before he would be able to contribute meaningfully. Through 26 games for the Bulls, Terry has appeared in just 11 totaling 36 minutes all of which have come in garbage time.
The 20-year-old took it upon himself to request a trip down to the G League and the Windy City Bulls to get more playing time.
He spoke out about that and what his time on the sideline has been like in a trying season.
Terry Knows it Takes Time
“Sometimes it’s harder than others,” Terry told Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. “But you’ve just got to know everybody goes through it. If you’re not a top-10 pick then you’ve got to go through it. And that’s what I would tell the next kid that’s in my position next year or the year after that. This is stuff that they don’t tell you when you get drafted.”
The NBA is certainly more of a hierarchy system than, say, the NFL where rookies usurp veterans on a semi-regular basis. Coaches tend to stick with proven production and, with more games in an NBA season to draw data from, it is even easier to justify the approach.
There are a couple of common caveats such as when a player is drafted in the top 10 as well as when the team is expecting to be bad.
Those teams are usually comprised of younger players all making a name for themselves.
The Bulls are neither of those things with veterans at the top of the pecking order and playoff aspirations. That means that Terry is stuck trying to convince his head coach that he is ready to contribute.
“I feel like the game is just now starting to slow down for me,” Terry said. “Just being able to talk to DeMar [DeRozan], Zach [LaVine], and Pat [Williams], those guys are doing a good job of grooming me and telling me what it means to be in this league. And that I have what it takes, obviously, but just that my time is going to come. And when my time comes just not give it up.”
Terry said that he feels like he could contribute defense and energy right now but admits the game still moves too fast for him at times, though he feels it is starting to slow down.
He added that he is trying to get stronger and work on his getting to his jumpshot.
Buried on the Bench
Despite averaging a respectable 14.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 4.7 assists in the G League, Terry has struggled with turnovers (3.8) and efficiency (20% 3P). All of those things are currently holding him back more than a Bulls team looking for any form of a consistent spark.
He currently ranks 44th out of 70 rookies in minutes – far lower than his draft slot would suggest.
If the Bulls continue their slide, however, that number could need to see an uptick as the team focuses on the future. They are not there yet, however, with a repeated aversion to tanking or conceding this season.
Until one or both of things happen, the waiting game will continue for the energetic Terry whose bench antics provide a glimpse into the spark he hopes to provide on the floor one day soon.