Tony Snell has had a rocky transition to the NBA, but it's nothing new for a man who's disproved critics before.
Tony Snell has been told of his physical restrictions his entire life. Although a man who stands at 6-foot-7 with a wingspan of 6-foot-11 has rarely been gauged as "lacking" in physicality in any other industry than sport, Snell knows full well that his 198-pound lanky frame will need to adjust if he hopes to survive in the most prolific basketball league on the planet.
The 2013 NBA Summer League raised some doubts about Snell's game. Critics harped on the former New Mexico wingman for lackluster speed, spotty shooting from the outside, a seemingly non-existent killer instinct, etc. All things considered, Snell - like many who are entering the NBA this fall - is learning very quickly the media's effect on an industry that rakes in over $5 billion annually and the expectations that a 1st round draft pick carry.
For Snell, progress should be a mantra he repeats daily for the next three months. A word that can be used as a tool to quiet the continuous noise inside the 21-year old's head, the "are you ready's?" and "can you help's?" of the world. From what we've heard thus far, Snell appears to be a hard-working, goal-driven teammate who is fulfilling a boy's dream at such a young age -and he couldn't be more grateful.
Work ethic is unremittingly used in accordance with his name and approach, a clear commonality amongst Chicago Bulls players. Former coach Steve Alford described Snell as incessant, a player that always arrived 20-to-30 minutes early for each practice, and yet you'd never know for how little he speaks.
When Snell was asked before his junior season to raise his game, he did. Not just raising his 3-point shooting percentage to the highest of his career (39%) but also his assisting percentage (22.4%). Snell was able to conform to fill the needs that New Mexico and coach Steve Alford demanded from him, to tune his shooting and lead an offense to a 29-6 record. The countless drills put in throughout the off-season in an empty gymnasium are a major reason why the California-native was crowned the MVP of the Mountain West Conference tournament, besting #1 overall draft pick Anthony Bennett in the tournament final, and skyrocketing his draft value even after being eliminated by Harvard in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The 2013 NBA Summer League raised some doubts, as Snell's stat-line wasn't overtly optimistic:
FG%-36.7 PPG-11.8 APG-1.20
Aside from Snell's 20-point outing on 6-13 shooting against the Dallas Mavericks, Snell typified what many decriers have previously noted as faults that must be addressed if he's to make an impact.
The truth is, we have no idea what Snell will bring to the Bulls. All things considered, a 39% 3-point shooter will not be effective on a Bulls roster that looks to relish the transition game in 2013-2014. Nor will his lanky frame be able to maintain and manage the Paul George's, Carmelo Anthony's, or even Alonzo Gee's of the Eastern Conference. Who's to say he'll even play much this year - with Deng governing the 3-spot, Butler being interchangeable, and the recent addition of Dunleavy - Snell will have to earn his playing time. What we can say is that we've added another teammate to a roster overflowing with unity, someone who's been praised by their former coach as being the hardest worker and the purest shooter they've had, and another set of arms to a defensive scheme that looks to have more length than just about anyone in the league (Standing Reach for potential starting 5: Rose-8' 2.5", Butler-8' 5", Deng-9' 0.5", Boozer-9' 0.5", Noah-8' 10.5"). If Snell improves his passing game, it would be nice to count on more of this from the third-string lineup: