This dude can get up. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE
The Bulls mercifully wrapped up their five-game Summer League slate yesterday, losing 113-68 to the Bucks and leaving Las Vegas with a 1-4 record. Jimmy Butler sat out the laugher with a "minor undisclosed injury," so that sort of explains why the Bulls were so terrible in their Summer League finale. Although a 45-point loss is pretty brutal no matter the circumstances.
It's obviously foolish to take too much from these games (although the foolishness has already somewhat started with Malcolm Thomas), because these games are usually a pretty terrible brand of basketball. But for right now, it's all we really have to judge most of these guys. So fair or unfair (probably more unfair because I only actually watched one game), I'm going to do plenty of judging.
Butler and Thomas were by far the most impressive Bulls, for various reasons (both guys were named to the All-Summer League Team). Butler led the squad in scoring, averaging 20.8 points in the four games that he did play. His shooting percentage was a rather pedestrian 43.1, but he made up for that by getting to the line a whopping 39 times. And perhaps most impressive of all, he actually made 35 of those! We knew from his limited minutes with the big boys last year that Butler had a knack for getting to the line, so his high free throw rate in these games should really come as no surprise.
Butler also got a taste of what it's like to be Luol Deng (who he may actually have to be if Deng has surgery after the Olympics), as the second year wing played 35.5 minutes per game. He even joked after the opener that he felt like Deng, which was kinda hilarious, at least to me. We often make wisecracks about Deng's often absurd workload, but it's pretty funny that even his teammates take note of it.
Now, Malcolm Thomas. The former Spur had one hell of a week, averaging 11.4 points and 12.4 boards (this led the Summer League). He was active on both ends of the floor and as mentioned on this site and elsewhere, his game can be compared to the Bulls' own Taj Gibson. And like Taj, he's pretty good at dunking on people.
Naturally, the overreactions to Thomas' stellar play began to file in, with some people (nobody on here) ready to put him on a level above Carlos Boozer. I know Bulls fans hate Boozer, but come on. In all seriousness though, Thomas' play should get him at least a camp invite, and perhaps he wins the final spot on the roster. However, there's a good chance that 13th spot goes to one more point guard.
And that may be a good idea, because Marquis Teague has a lot of work to do. Teague's 10.6 points per game and 3.0 assists per game don't look that bad for a rookie point guard, but when you look at the shooting percentages and turnovers, things get ugly. The rook had a couple really dreadful shooting performances, which is why he ended Summer League with a woeful 29.4 field goal percentage. Again, since I didn't see much of the games, I can't fully comment on this poor percentage because I don't know what types of shots he was taking. But no matter which way you slice it, 29.4% is not good. As for the turnovers, 3.8 per game is far too many.
Of course, as silly as it is to anoint guys based on great Summer League play (Michael Beasley anybody?), it's just as silly to write guys off based on lousy play. Teague probably isn't ready for big NBA minutes yet, but there's definitely a lot of talent there. He's super fast and could be a beast in transition if he improves his decision making and finishing ability. The halfcourt thing could be a major struggle for a bit, but considering he's only 19, we'll just have to be patient.
There's really not much else to take from the Bulls' week in Vegas. Camp hopeful Leon Powe looked nowhere near NBA ready (based on the one game I saw and from numerous voices on Twitter), but it wouldn't surprise me if he got an invite just because of his prior history with Thibs. Jermaine Taylor and Edwin Ubiles each had one big game, but there was little consistency. Former Illinois point guard and one of my favorite punching bags Demetri McCamey had a few nice moments, but he also bricked two free throws that would have sealed one of the games. Some things never change.
Full Summer League stats can be found here.