It's only been two games, but there have been some encouraging signs at the Bulls Summer League. The Summer League Bulls are the polar opposite of the NBA Bulls: Thriving with and nailing the three ball, scoring lots of points, and pushing the ball at a fast pace. It's been exciting to watch. Here are a few things I've taken note of:
- Tony Snell: My goodness. Doug McDermott has been getting all the media attention, but Tony Snell has been stealing the show. He's averaging 25 points per game, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and shooting 52% from the field and 52% from three. He allegedly added 10 pounds of muscle...and it looks like it. He's not the skinny rookie we saw most of last season. Snell is reportedly a gym rat and spends a lot of time working on his game. It's showing because his confidence appears to be sky high. You can clearly see he's worked on his ball-handling and is showing more aggressiveness attacking the rim, which I have said repeatedly that if he realizes he's an athlete and can get to the rim, watch out. His jumpshot has a quicker release and he's getting it off much more quickly and is showing increased accuracy as well. All of this stuff will translate into regular season action quite well. I found it strange that the Bulls didn't target wing help after they missed out on Carmelo Anthony, but maybe the Bulls have seen enough improvement and are impressed with Tony Snell to the point they believe he is that help off the bench. I can believe it. I remember Charles Barkley on "Open Court" one time talking about players in the NBA and said, "Everyone in the NBA has talent. The ones who succeed are the ones who work their butts off and improve." If that's true, there's absolutely no reason Tony Snell won't stick around this league for a long time and I believe he will be a vital part of the Bulls' rotation this year.
- Doug McDermott: Through the first two games, Doug McDermott has shown some highs and lows. The first game was kind of rough. He only went 2 of 8 from the field and finished with a decent 10 pts/5 rebounds. Last night though, he went off. 31 points on only 12 field goal attempts and is shooting a sizzling 94% from the free-throw line so far in Summer League. McDermott is going to be the real deal. I said this on Twitter, but I think he will actually have an easier time scoring during the regular season. Sounds a little nuts, but with the attention that Rose, Noah, and Gasol will command, I think McDermott may have a lot of wide open threes this year. By the way, he's shooting 50% from three this Summer League. Defensively, McDermott has been okay. I expected him to be a lot worse than he is, but he's been fairly solid. Will that translate into regular NBA action? It's hard to say. That might be a much more difficult transition for him. However, I'm fairly certain Thibs already has a plan in place to cover those weaknesses and allow McDermott to see some action for the Bulls this season.
- I like Lazeric Jones: I like what I'm seeing from him! He's a feisty 6'1 guard, 24 years old, and has shown a little bit of touch from three-point range. He's averaging a modest 10.5 points per game and 4 assists and just seems like he's always in control on the court. If the Bulls were wanting another point guard project for the minimum, I'd like to see them give Jones a shot. Maybe the Thibodeau system could work magic with him.
- Cameron Bairstow: 7 points, 6 rebounds per game isn't blowing away the competition, but I definitely like his potential. I see him as a poor man's Anderson Varejao, which isn't a bad thing. However, the Bulls are set for the immediate future at PF/C with Noah, Gibson, Gasol, and Mirotic. Is there a need to keep Bairstow? I'm hoping so. He might become a nice energy off the bench for cheap one day.
The next Chicago Bulls Summer League game is Tuesday, July 15th, at 4:30 PM Eastern Time (3:30 Central).