Versatile Bulls Rookie Urged to Fill Familiar Role

Chicago Bulls

Getty Marko Simonovic #19 of the Chicago Bulls celebrates with teammates Dalen Terry #25 and Malcolm Hill #21.

Every good front office makes contingency plans and the Chicago Bulls are no different when it comes to rookie Dalen Terry. Amid fans clamoring and media speculating over a big move the Bulls did what they said they would do and focused on continuity.

That did not mean staying the same despite the somewhat negative connotation that comes along with standing pat while the competition makes upgrades.

But if we did not get to see this group at its full potential, it makes sense to supplement first.

In the NBA that typically means through the draft which is generally the only way to acquire affordable, high-upside talent without giving up something similar (outside of trades for picks, of course). When it comes to Terry, the Bulls are banking heavily on his upside without much of a discernable plan to mold it.

Terry Doesn’t Have a Position

In today’s NBA, “positionless basketball” has become a buzzword. In Terry’s case, it is essentially a way of life. The 6-foot-7 rookie can run the offense, defend multiple positions, and is coming along as a shooter. That skill set fits three positions along while Terry’s 7-foot-1 wingspan suggests he could see time at the 4 if he puts on enough weight.

“Though he’s flawed with limited creation or shooting upside, Terry emerged as a hot prospect as scouts began buying his two-way versatility and intangibles for a glue-guy role. He’ll want to show Bulls coaches he can make an impact—without a set position—by generating fast-break points, passing, defending multiple positions, and adding a vocal, high-energy presence.”

That breakdown from Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman exposes a potential flaw in the Bulls’ plan.

Terry lacks a true position.

While not quite a true point guard, he can be a connective piece, particularly in transition where the Bulls tied for the league lead last season generating 1.19 points per possession. He can also be a catch-and-shoot threat.

Bulls general manager Marc Eversley said on draft night that Terry is probably more of a wing than a guard long term.

Surely the Bulls will look to take advantage of his tweener status.

Terry Part of the Solution for Ball

The Bulls have one dark cloud hanging over them and that is the status of starting point guard Lonzo Ball. Out of action since mid-January, a bone bruise in Ball’s knee figures to keep him out through the early portion of the regular season.

Rather than seek on 1-for-1 replacement, the Bulls went about assembling a platoon of players to replace what Ball gives them when healthy.

Very few players can provide all that Ball does alone.

They already had players Alex Caruso and Ayo Dosunmu to offset the defense. Coby White was also already around to pick up the shooting slack. And the Bulls went out and added Goran Dragic to be a pick-and-roll playmaker.

Terry is surely behind them all on a team where playoffs are now an expectation.

But he’s also a much-needed insurance policy behind what is a group rife with injury concerns beyond Ball’s balky knee.

Caruso and White have both been afflicted by injuries in their careers. Dosunmu was healthy as a rookie. But he is still a young player as Terry is. This would seem to lead to uncertainty about who starts and who comes off of the bench in Ball’s absence.

But the Bulls added bodies on top of skills attempting to cover multiple issues.

Terry NBA Ready

The 20-year-old Terry should be in store for plenty of run with the Windy City Bulls in the G-League at the very least. But one NBA executive said that he viewed the rookie as “NBA ready”.

That’s good because the Bulls are not expected to go deep into the playoffs this year.

It’s important to have building blocks for the future. The Bulls have the luxury of being a playoff team with no expectations from the outside.

That means they can bring Terry along slowly while letting him see what it’s like playing on a competitive team. It’s a benefit to keeping him and teammate Patrick Williams, the latter amid trade rumors. The Bulls just have to take advantage by ensuring that talent pays off with a proper supporting cast in the coming years.

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Michael Cunnningham
Michael Cunnningham
8 days ago

Before the NBA draft, I had Dalen Terry 2nd on my Chicago Bulls wish list behind Tari Eason. Once DT adjusts to the pace and strength of the NBA game he’ll make All-Rookie 2nd team.

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