It's everyone's favorite time of the year, NBA Summer League! And also a quick reminder that yes, it's only Summer League so evaluations need to be taken with a grain of salt. In their first game down in Las Vegas, the Summer Bulls beat the Summer Celtics 71-62.
From a game stand point, it was every bit of Summer League, which means it wasn't aesthetically pleasing to any degree. The Summer Bulls though fit right in with Hoiball, shooting a combined 3-26 from three point range. They'll be perfect with next season's squad.
It should also be noted that the Summer Bulls feature four of the Bulls rotation players heading into next season, heh.
Any who, more importantly it was the debut of the Bulls first round selection, Denzel Valentine. For the most part, Denzel looked rather comfortable out on the floor, if he was nervous it didn't show very well. Offensively, his shot wasn't quite there, so maybe there were some nerves, but the most impressive part was his court vision and passing that was so coveted leading up to the draft.
Even more, his decisiveness was impressive as well. Last season, the Bulls ran into a lot of trouble offensively by merely holding the ball for too long instead of making quick decisions and swinging the ball side to side. Valentine was good in either making a move right away or passing to the next open man, he didn't sabotage any possessions by holding the ball for too long. He got a little forceful in the second half, which caused a few turnovers, but for the most part he did some good things with the ball in his hands.
While he was a very good shooter at Michigan State, Valentine struggled a LOT today finding his range. After hitting his first jumper, a 15 footer off of a pump fake, he didn't hit another for the remainder. He finished 4-16 from the field, 0-9 from deep, none of his attempts being relatively close. Hopefully as he gets his legs under him a little more, conditioning, those will start falling.
The opposite end of the floor was not as reassuring, which was one of his biggest flaws coming out of Michigan State. He got cooked a couple times in isolation situations, and struggled with fighting over the pick-and-roll. He wasn't terrible by any means, but it's clear there's still a lot of work to do moving forward.
Bobby Portis was a man amongst children today, clearly the best player on the floor. He'll probably end up playing the duration of summer league, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Bulls held him out for the last game or two. Offensively, he showed great patience with the ball, which was one area that he struggled with during his rookie year. He finished with 17 points on 7-11 shooting to go along with 13 boards. It's on the opposite end where Portis will need to focus during this stint, making the right rotations, in the right position help-side etc.
New Bull Jerian Grant and the returning mythical man himself, Cristiano Felicio didn't show very well in their first summer league games. Felicio ran into some foul trouble early on, and generally had a hard time finding any sort of rhythm. As for Grant, where Valentine showed patience and a comfortability, he was going a little too fast, trying to force too much right away. Hopefully moving forward both can settle down a bit and show some promise and improvement.
The Summer Bulls next game is tomorrow night at 7:30 against the number one pick Ben Simmons and the Sixers.