Bulls pre-season starts this Monday when they take on the Milwaukee Bucks at the United Center. Currently the roster is at 19 players, cutting down to 15 at the start of the regular season.
Chicago signed four players to training camp deals and for these players, its a chance to show that they can play. Not just to the Bulls, but to D-League and European teams. This is a big time audition for them.
J.J Avila is one of the two forwards Chicago has signed to a training camp deal. Avila, who averaged 16.7 his senior year at Colorado State in 2015, went undrafted the following year and played overseas last year. He has gotten two Summer League invites with the latest being a part of the Knicks Summer League roster in Orlando. There, Avila didn’t exactly impress, as he only averaged 1.25 points per game on a miserable 22.2 percent shooting. At 6’8”, he certainly has the size to be a decent forward in the NBA, but obviously he needs major improvements all around. Mostly when it comes to offense. But he is only 24 so he could be a D-League player for the Windy City Bulls next year.
Like Avila, Vince Hunter also went undrafted but he has only played in the D-League and Summer League since. Hunter had an impressive Las Vegas Summer League with the Memphis Grizzlies. He averaged double digit points per game (11.8) and shot 57.1 percent from the field. Hunter is only 22 and has shown some promise coming out of UTEP. But he still hasn’t been able to stick around in the NBA long enough. He is likely to go back to the D-League again next year unless his play in pre-season is enough to convince a team, like the Bulls, to sign him to a contract (likely non-guaranteed). Given his age, he could be in line for one.
D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera was the best player for the Georgetown Hoyas this past season, leading the team with 16.2 points and 4.5 assists per game. As an undrafted rookie free agent and at 23, Smith-Rivera has a lot to prove if he wants a shot to stick on this Chicago roster. With Spencer Dinwiddie and Isiah Cannan already here, DSVR would likely have to outshine both in a big way if he wants to get Fred Hoiberg and staff to believe in him. With that being said, the backup point guard job is anyone's job at the moment. DVSR can shoot from the outside and is a very good scorer, but he has to also step up on the defensive end.
If you watched the NCAA Tournament this past year, you probably remember Thomas Walkup on Stephen F. Austin when they upset West Virginia in the Round of 64. Walkup led the historic upset over with a 33 point performance including a dagger three that included an iconic sticking out of the tongue moment.
Walkup got some playing time in the Summer League this year for the Golden State Warriors but didn’t exactly stuff the stat sheet. He only averaged 3.3 points along with 3.5 rebounds per game, and shot less than 25 percent from the field. But Walkup is still a quality player who could provide some value to any team that he plays on. He is a hard worker and is great at finishing around the rim. A player like Walkup could be a good call up for the Bulls if they were to have him on their D-League roster. It’s also worth mentioning that he has an amazing beard.