Another Chicago Bulls Summer League campaign has come and gone.
They did not win the title like the famed ‘16 squad. Entering the playoff round as the 24th seed, the SummerBulls had an upset 1st round win against the SummerMavs but then were eliminated after a 72-66 defeat to the SummerPistons.
This year’s summer league was a better campaign than the one Chicago had last year, mostly cause of the play of the rookies. Both Wendell Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison had bright moments throughout summer league with the former being one of the best in the entire tournament. There were a lot of positive takeaways from them and others in Vegas, let’s go through them.
Wendell Carter Jr. has a bright future
In case you haven’t heard, Wendell Carter Jr. looked really, REALLY, good in Summer League.
He showed smarts on the offensive end, being a willing screen and showing some nice touch around the rim. Even the three-pointer was on display at times.
Defensively as he played surprisingly well. Everyone knew he was a smart defensive player but had questions about his lateral quickness. Carter Jr. seemed to answer those questions, showing he can hold his own off switches where he’s guarding smaller players, while showing off his rim protection skills too.
There isn’t a lot that hasn’t been said about Wendell Carter Jr’s play in Vegas. It’s just Summer League, but it suggests he’s going to be a really good player alongside Lauri Markkanen in the Chicago front court.
Chandler Hutchison was skittish to start but showed confidence in the end
Hutchison was the other rookie to watch for on this Summer League roster. The Boise State product started out Summer League looking a bit rattled, taking wild drives to the rim and attempting impossible finishes. There were also some mindless turnovers. It looked at times that the game was going too fast for Hutchison, but thankfully as the week went on he seemed to settle in and looked decent at the end of it.
There was a lot to like about Hutchison’s offensive game. The willingness to drive to the rim was nice despite the attempts looking frantic and off balance at times. The three-point shot looked ok but we still need to see more from him. He was able to attack closeouts.
Defensively he was ok, and impressed on the boards. His willingness to go crash the glass was one of those little things which doesn’t show on the box score but always helps.
Heading into his rookie season, Hutchison should focus on being more efficient when going to the rim and earning free throws. He certainly has it in him as this was one of his key strengths while at Boise State.
Where does Antonio Blakeney fit in this Bulls roster?
This was Antonio Blakeney’s second Summer League campaign and we are beginning to realize where his ceiling is at as an NBA player and specifically on this team. He’s a gunner at heart and has supreme confidence in himself when being the main guy on offense. While he certainly can put the ball in the basket, it sometimes has a price attached to it where he can take you out of games with his tunnel-vision.
Last year, Blakeney showed he can light up the G-League with ease, but struggled in his time with the Bulls. Granted, we don’t know how much he can take away from the garbage games they were playing during the back half of the season, but Blakeney’s role on this main roster (if he gets another chance) will likely be an end of the bench guy as a potential pop of offense. If he can improve his playmaking skills just a tad, it can go a long way in him becoming a better player.
There is a lot to like about Blakeney’s offensive game but we are at Year 2 of him being a future prospect for this team. There is a solid chance this season will be another one where we watch him drop 36 points a night for the Windy City Bulls but make no impact on the big club.
Ryan Arcidiacono struggles throughout Summer League
The Bulls other two-way contract, point guard Ryan Arcidiacono, also had his second summer stint for the team. Unlike Blakeney, we got a lot more early-season NBA action of Arch playing last year and frankly it wasn’t pretty. While it wasn’t as bad in Summer League, it didn’t look that exceptional either, outside of him giving defensive effort.
Arch is slotted in as essentially the 3rd point guard on this roster, but his time will be limited due to him likely be a two-way player for Chicago. However, one could make the case of Chicago taking a risk on a different point guard with that contract and letting Arcidiacono go. On their Summer League roster the Bulls had a more scoring-capable guard in Melo Trimble. It seems unlikely the Bulls would try to take a chance on a guy like that alongside Blakeney but who knows.
There are a tons of point guards out on the market right now. Teams such as the Nets and the Heat have found success in finding guys in the past on the fringes, it’s all about just taking a chance on someone instead of locking in to guys like Arcidiacono. Signing a guy to an Exhibit 10 contract is also an option, as the Indiana Pacers showed with their signing Elijiah Stewart. It’s essentially a training camp contract in which a team can convert to a two-way contract if they like the player enough, which helps both teams and players.