When the Chicago Bulls scooped up Montenegrin forward-center Marko Simonovic with the 44th overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft, not everyone was on-board with the selection. However, there were definitely some who thought the team may have plucked a diamond in the rough.
“I think he has potential to develop into a very legitimate spacing five. He also has some real dexterity and ability to put the ball on the deck and attack closeouts,” wrote The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie at the time.
Though he hardly appeared on the court after finally coming over in 2021-22, Simonovic was, at last, able to show his potential during summer league. First, he logged 27 points and 13 rebounds in Chicago’s Las Vegas opener. Eight days later, he went for 26 points and eight boards as the club wrapped up its offseason slate.
Regardless, he has reverted to forgotten man status in 2022-23 and, according to one league scouting director, his time may be better spent somewhere other than Chi-Town. Not only that — Simonovic’s NBA prospects might not be what Vecenie and others thought they were.
Scout Issues Reality Check on Marko Simonovic’s Development & Next Steps
Fans have bristled at Simonovic’s strange existence with the Bulls, one that has seen him shuttled back and forth between the main club and its G League affiliate with nary a legitimate playing opportunity from Chicago coach Billy Donovan to show for it.
According to the aforementioned scout — who directs the efforts for an Eastern Conference team — that probably means the time has come for Chicago to break the cycle and move on.
“He needs to go somewhere else,” the scouting director deadpanned. “He should be with a rebuilding team where he can get some minutes and learn.”
A parting of ways wouldn’t just be beneficial for the player, though. According to the scout, Simonovic may not be showing enough behind the scenes to even warrant an opportunity with the Bulls, which makes it hard to justify his presence on the roster.
“I’ve heard the work ethic is not where it needs to be; that is speculation there. He is definitely not where he needs to be defensively, that is the big thing, and he has not been the shooter he was advertised to be,” added the exec. “Billy [Donovan] can’t play him if he is not playing top-level defense, and he is not there, not at this point.
“He needs to be in a low-pressure spot, where it is either, you improve real fast or you go back and get a spot in Europe. They can let him walk after this year, I can’t see why they’d keep him around.”
Bulls’ Andre Drummond Joins Exclusive Club
Andre Drummond was able to accomplish a whole lot in a relatively small amount of time during the Bulls’ 114-98 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Thursday night. In just 15 minutes of action, he somehow managed to put up 15 points and 11 rebounds off the bench.
That’s not the first time he has logged a double-double while playing 15 minutes or less, though. Drummond went for 10 and 10 in 14 minutes of action against the Utah Jazz back in November, too. And the fact that he has two such games actually puts him in rarefied air.
Including Drummond, only eight players in Association history have two or more career double-doubles that were achieved while playing 15 or fewer minutes. The others who have done it: Tyson Chandler (not during his Bulls days), Enes Kanter (Freedom?), Mike Gminski (who logged three such efforts), Gar Heard, Boban Marjanovic, Hassan Whiteside and Sam Williams.