In the midst of this depressing offseason, I must say that I was somewhat irrationally excited for Bulls Summer League play to begin. The roster is certainly nothing to write home about, but getting to see Jimmy Butler and Marquis Teague have an opportunity to play big minutes is enough to keep me interested.
The Bulls' Summer League opener in Vegas against the Celtics was very Summer League-y, with isos, turnovers and bad shot selection abound. After a pretty competitive first quarter, the Celtics - thanks mostly to hot shooting from the guard trio of E'Twaun Moore, Dionte Christmas and Jamar Smith - blew the game open in the second and took a 21-point lead into the half.
Spurred by Butler's scoring and some relentless work on the offensive glass, the Bulls were able to make a game of it in the second half. The Celtics also helped the Bulls' cause plenty by bricking a bunch of the jump shots that found the bottom of the net in the first half. Unfortunately, the Bulls were never able to quite get over the hump, and wound up dropping to 0-1 in the Summer League after a 79-74 loss.
Butler was one of the few true bright spots. He finished with 25 points and seven boards, and while he shot just 7-16 from the field, he made up for that by attempting 12 free throws. He showed a knack for getting to the line in limited minutes during his rookie season, so it wasn't all that surprising to see him using his size and athleticism to draw fouls against these lesser players. Because it is just Summer League, I don't want to jump to any conclusions, but it's hard not to at least feel optimistic about Butler being a competent replacement for Ronnie Brewer.
On the other hand, Teague was a disaster. The first Bulls possession resulted in a terrible turnover by the rook, and this would be a precursor of things to come. The kid obviously has talent and is very quick with the ball in his hands, but he's definitely a work in progress. I wasn't expecting huge things in his first outing, but I also wasn't expecting 4-17 from the field with six turnover and five fouls. He was very tentative in the first half, and when he started taking jumpers in the second half, it wasn't pretty. Again, it's only Summer League and it's only one game, but I can't lie and say I wasn't disappointed by Teague's debut effort.
A few other notes from the game:
- It was mentioned in an earlier thread that Malcolm Thomas was a Taj Gibson-esque player. After my first peek at him in action, I'd say that's a pretty apt comparison. Thomas was active on both ends of the floor all night long, finishing with 10 points, 13 boards (four offensive) and four blocks in a shade under 30 minutes. I'm sure Reinsdorf is drooling at the thought of making him Taj's cheap replacement when Gibson receives some crazy offer sheet next offseason.
- Leon Powe did himself no favors if he wants one of the final roster spots. 0-4 from the field, one stinkin' rebound and was consistently worked down low. Maybe he was just taking it easy against his former team, or maybe he just stinks. I'll go with the latter.
- As a proud alum of the fine University of Illinois, it was quite the hoot to see former Illini Demetri McCamey and Jamar Smith out there. Both are talented guys who, for various reasons, just have never reached their potentials. D-Mac was a non-factor, while Smith showed off some of his blistering shooting ability, which was nice.
- The Bulls Summer League roster seems to lack in the multiple scorer/shot creator category. Sound familiar?
- This Olek Czyz guy is all types of horrendous. But his name alone makes him worth having on the squad.
- For a full box score, check out NBA.com.
- Next Summer League game is Wednesday against the Rockets at 5 p.m. central time.