I spent some time watching a Windy City Bulls game, because that’s what you do on the weekend.
Prior to the game on Saturday, the Bulls announced that they had assigned Cristiano Felicio, RJ Hunter and Jerian Grant to their D-League team. It’s the first such situation this season that the Bulls have utilized their new affiliate, taking advantage of the four day rest before their next game.
In the game, Windy City defeated the Delaware 87ers (Sixers affiliate) 121-110, in a back and forth contest for most of the game before the Bulls pulled away.
Let’s take a look at how the trio fared:
Jerian Grant - 41 minutes, 11-24 FGM-A, 3-8 3PM-A, 34 pts., 7 assists
Grant took over the point guard duties from usual starter Spencer Dinwiddie, controlling the ball and offense for most of the night. Right from the tip Grant came out aggressive on offense looking for his shot early and often. Which is what you wanted to see from him.
One thing Grant to tried to do was establish himself on the block against smaller defenders. Out of about six or seven possessions out of the post, Grant converted on two or three. He wasn’t able to get great position, as he ended up shooting difficult fadeaways over the defender from 10-12 feet out.
But where he excelled at Saturday night was when he got going downhill to the basket. Grant possesses some great speed and acceleration, and when he gets himself in an opportunity to use it, it’s extremely hard to slow him down.
RJ Hunter - 38 minutes, 5-12 FGM-A, 2-8 3PM-A, 19 pts., 6 rebounds, 4 assists
This was Hunter’s third game down with the Windy City Bulls, and while he did some good things at times, there’s still much left to be desired.
The biggest issue with him is defense, which is probably obvious. In one-on-one situations he was blown by multiple times. Away from the ball he showed an inattentiveness, losing track of his man leading to back-door cuts and open layups. Offensively, when his shot isn’t falling, there’s not a whole lot else he provides.
It’s only one game that I’ve seen from him, but from what I did see, there’s not a lot there that says “this kid is an NBA player.”
Cristiano Felicio - 38 minutes, 8-16 FGM-A, 20 pts., 12 rebounds, 2 blocks
We’ve been preaching and preaching about how Felicio needs to be playing with Chicago, and Saturday night continued to strengthen that argument.
Catching up on the Windy City Bulls game last night. Felicio blocks/dunks.— Stephen Noh (@hungarianjordan) November 27, 2016
Announcer: "They don't make em like that in the D-League." pic.twitter.com/hdX8tww1lb
His pick-and-roll defense was just sensational. For a young big to be able to understand how to defend the PnR this early in his career is rare and hard to find. With Chicago, Fred Hoiberg had Felicio hedging ball screens hard, but with Windy City Saturday, Felicio was dropping back, ala Robin Lopez. And he did a great job. He contained the ball-handler, and prevented the big from scoring.
However, while that was hands down the best part of his game, there were some areas that Felicio still needs to improve. Defensively, when guarding down on the block he was beat a few times because he wasn’t moving his feet quick enough. On the opposite end, he’s still so raw. Felicio needs work on cleaning up his footwork as he was caught a couple time making post moves; those need refinement as well, in terms of more fluidity and decisiveness.
Others to watch: Spencer Dinwiddie & JJ Avila
In 34 minutes of action, Dinwiddie scored 11 points on 3-6 shooting and five assists. Admittedly, it was probably a tough game for Dinwiddie seeing as though Grant was taking over the point guard role. He played well, but it was hard for him to separate himself with Grant controlling so much of the action.
Undrafted from Colorado State, Avila has put up some solid numbers thus far with Windy City. Saturday was my first look at the rookie, and I must say there’s quite a bit of talent in the power forward. In 33 minutes he shot 10-14 from the field, 3-5 from deep for 24 points to go along with eight boards. He’s a smart, heady player who seems to know his role well. His downfall however happens to be his size. At 6’8, he’s little bit of a tweener (kind of similar to Carlos Boozer), not quite big enough to bang with NBA power forwards, and probably not quick enough to hang with small forwards. Never say never though, if given the right opportunity, anything is possible.
On Sunday, the trio from the big-league roster was recalled in order to practice in Chicago in the coming days. But it’s likely they’ll be assigned again Tuesday to play one more D-League game Tuesday afternoon before Chicago’s contest against the Lakers on Wednesday (h/t to Sean Highkin of The Athletic). This will be a reoccurring theme throughout the season, as opportunities come for young guys to grab meaningful minutes to help their development.
If you’re wondering where you can watch the Windy City Bulls, all NBA D-League games are streamed through their Facebook page.