The SummerBulls are no more. After defeating the Mavericks 94-87 on Friday, the Bulls completed their slate in Las Vegas Summer League with a 4-1 record. I thought the team was pretty fun to watch when all the starters were on the floor together, and most the squad's principle components were impressive individually.
Marquis Teague's effort was perhaps the most encouraging thing to come out of Vegas from the Bulls' side. Teague contributed little as a 19-year old during his rookie season, and he doesn't figure to play a much more substantial role in the upcoming season, at least until Kirk Hinrich gets trapped in that damn well again. But if there was one oft-repeated refrain during Vegas, it was this: showing you can play in Summer League might mean nothing, but showing you can't means you're probably doomed. And hey, Marquis Teague showed he could play in Summer League. He played really well. It's much too early to start thinking about potential Rose-Teague backcourt pairings for a stretch, but I find no fault in starting to get a little excited about the now-second year point guard.
Teague was the Bulls' second leading scorer by averaging 18.3 points per game. He finished fifth in Vegas in assists at 4.8. The 3.5 turnovers per game Teague averaged was unacceptable and something that will definitely need to be curtailed for him to earn minutes, but overall I thought he was impressive.
It's important to remember that Marquis Teague is a child. He was born in 1993 (!) and won't be able to legally drink until the end of February. There are real reasons to retroactively doubt his selection in the 2012 draft (point guard wasn't a need position, he was clearly very raw), but I don't doubt that he can be a solid backup point guard in the NBA for a long time, maybe even a starter down the road. Of course, if he's too good he'll likely price himself out of the Bulls' range when his contract expires after his fourth season, but if he gives 2-3 good years and earns that big pay raise, I think it's safe to say it was a good pick.
The Bulls' newest first round pick, Tony Snell, looked good, too. SB Nation NBA editor Mike Prada was in Vegas and liked what he saw:
Tony Snell seems born to be a Thibs player. Long, smart, plays within himself, tenacious defensively.— Mike Prada (@MikePradaSBN) July 20, 2013
Snell ended his five games in Summer League with averages of 11.8 points per game, 6.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.2 steals. He'll make his bread on this level by being a plus defender and hitting threes, but I was impressed by his ballhandling. He took the ball to the hole strong throughout Vegas, as evident by his 15-of-17 mark from the free throw line. I thought he looked pretty good as a pick-and-roll ball carrier. That's important because it looks like Snell will have to play shooting guard in the NBA due to his thin frame. He rebounded well in Vegas, but it just doesn't seem like he'll be strong enough to handle opposing small forwards. Obviously, that can change with a year or two of lifting, but for a Bulls team constantly lacking ball handling sans Rose, it seems like a nice development that he can actually handle the rock decently enough.
Erik Murphy, the Bulls' second round pick, looked pretty good, too. He averaged 11.8 points per game and made 10 of the 20 three-pointers he attempted. I expect him to stick on the roster this year, even if it's a little much to expect him to actually contribute as a rookie. Murphy is a prototypical stretch four, a 6'10 shooter who will knock down threes and not do much else. But we've seen guys like Matt Bonner carve out long careers as a role player doing something similar, and there's reason to believe Murphy could one day be similarly productive.
Finally, there's Andrew Goudelock. He killed it the first two games, sucked the next two, and ended with a strong 22-point effort against the Mavericks on 8-of-15 shooting. He was the fourth leading scorer in Vegas, and impressed me a lot. I already profiled him at dot com so there's no point going over his back story, but I do believe this guy can play in the NBA and deserves a spot at the end of a bench. Will he get a shot with the Bulls?
It seems unlikely, to be honest. He could catch on if the Bulls do chose to use all 15 spots on their roster next season, but the luxury tax makes that an improbable bet. Goudelock can score and has the ability to get buckets without needing to be set-up; he's also a quality three-point shooter. Problem is, he doesn't bring much else to the table. He's too short to play the two and doesn't have the ball handling or playmaking for a point guard. It looks like he doesn't play much defense, and we know he has a tiny wingspan that sort of prevents him from doing so at the highest level.
Malcolm Thomas looked good, too. He's very athletic and looks sort of like a poor man's Taj Gibson. If you want to try to develop a shot blocker, rebounder, he looks like a good bet to me. I hope he sticks.
Form Summer League takeaways at your own peril. Who knows how many, if any, of these players will actually contribute to the big league club next season. But it was nice to watch some basketball again for a week and the effort of the Bulls was more encouraging than discouraging. There was also like 100 basketball blogger bros in Vegas and it made me wish I was there. Who wants to go next year?