With the Chicago Bulls tipping off their Summer League adventures on July 5th, let’s take a look at the roster they will be trotting out in Vegas this summer. As per usual we will break down the guys who have been on the roster before and what they need to work on while scouting some of the players we don’t know much about.
It’s always an optimistic time during Summer League as scouts come from far and wide to find new talent. A good performance in Vegas can help a player earn his way to a spot on an NBA roster or a sizable contract in Europe.
As we already know, Wendell Carter Jr. will not be playing in Summer League. He is expected to undergo surgery on a core muscle injury on July 9th. Obviously missing SL is not a disaster for Carter but it is a setback. Hopefully he’s expected to be there for the start of training camp.
Guys We Know
Harrison did well for Chicago last year in a backup role. He averaged 6.5 points and caused chaos when driving to the basket. Harrison can play off the ball, cutting to the basket at will when defenders crash into the paint. His defense was decent as well, recording a defensive box plus/minus of 1.4 in the 2018-19 season. Even though he’s only 6’4, Harrison won’t get overpowered by bigger defenders. Harrison was active defensively, hounding his man the moment he crossed the half court line. He recorded a steal rate of 3.0, poking the ball loose anytime the opportunity presented itself.
Harrison struggled to shoot the ball last season. He shot 27 percent from three and defenders were more than happy to let him shoot it. Harrison scores well at the rim at 57.5 percent but the farther he steps back the worse it gets. He didn’t shoot more than 30 percent anywhere beyond three feet from the basket last season.
With the Bulls adding Tomas Satoransky, drafting Coby White, and retaining Ryan Arcidiacano, Harrison has a mountain to climb if he wants a roster spot. He’s going to really have to show improvements to his all-around offensive game. Best case scenario is Harrison balls out in Vegas and gets a new contract with a new team by training camp.
Walt Lemon Jr.
In the waning days of the season, Bulls fans got a chance to see Walt Lemon Jr. put on a uniform and play for his hometown team. Lemon Jr. was picked up from the Maine Red Claws, the G-League affiliate of the Boston Celtics. Lemon Jr. played in six games for Bulls, while spending the rest of the time with the Windy City Bulls. He started three of those games and was determined to score no matter how many shots it took him. Lemon Jr. averaged 14.3 points per game but on 14.5 field goal attempts. He will be looking to give Chicago some offense and will show no fear in taking on defenders to create his own shot.
He won’t make a stellar impact defensively but Lemon Jr. tracks back quickly and will at least give a solid effort. At 6’3, he will get overmatched by bigger ball handlers. He can rebound a bit, grabbing nearly five boards a game in his short stint with Chicago. Lemon Jr. will help Chicago push the pace off misses.
Like Harrison, the odds are stacked up against Lemon Jr. when it comes to making a roster spot. There is a chance he does end up playing with the Windy City Bulls or another G-League team next season
Like WCJ, Chandler Hutchison missed a significant time of last season with an injury. He played barely half the season and after his best game of the season against the Clippers, Hutchison was ruled out with a toe injury for the rest of the year. Hutchison’s stats don’t really pop out either. He averaged 5.2 points with a true shooting percentage of 50.2 so the efficiency needs an uptick. Hutchison showed he can run the floor effectively and the Bulls switching to a faster offensive tempo should help his game. This is a good chance for Hutchison to work on finding his own shot. He was too timid at times when it came to creating offense and his jumper needs to improve.
Hutchison was ok defensively for Chicago but like most rookies, he needed to get stronger. With a 7’1 wingspan, he can switch onto multiple positions and on the perimeter, he’s not a liability against a smaller guard. The hope will be for Hutchison to guard small-ball fours and with his size, he can certainly do that. For a team which struggled to stop lead ball handlers, it would be a very welcome sign for Hutchison to improve and strengthen that area of his game.
After one season we still don’t know that much about Hutchison’s game. A solid Summer League stint can go a long way in his development.
Guys We Scouted
WCJ wasn’t the only injury news yesterday. As per KC Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, Coby White turned his ankle in practice but it isn’t serious and he should get some playing time in Vegas.
As we know White will be used as a combo guard in Chicago, with his 6’5 frame. His lack of wingspan will limit how much of a defensive impact he can have and it does pigeon hole him in terms of his versatility. He will likely only defend point guards and maybe some shooting guards. But White will be very effective for the Bulls on the other side of the court. He can glide down the court with ease and plays at a rapid pace. White uses his vision to find teammates for open baskets with the defense not set. He recorded an assist rate of 24.4 percent to go along with his 16.1 points per game at North Carolina. The turnovers do need to go down a bit (2.7 per game) but he should have better decision making the more he plays.
While his pull up game needs work, White shot really well in college off catch and shoot sets. Chicago can use him coming off screens like they do with Lauri Markkanen and have him curl around for open jump shots. This speaks to White’s offensive versatility as the Bulls can run multi-guard lineups with him playing the two.
Expectations should be timid for White in Summer League. He will be adjusting to the pace of the NBA and it’s especially tough for point guards. White should show some flashes in transition as the Bulls will be looking for chances to strike any chance they get. His shooting off the dribble and defense will be things to watch for.
The Bulls selected Gafford with the 38th pick in the draft and it was clear what his role was going to be. Like White, Gafford can run the floor and can soar for alley-oops with his leaping ability. He shows to be a great energy guy and will be someone who creates chaos on both ends for the Bulls. Gafford averaged two blocks per game during his time at Arkansas and will offer a presence at the hoop for Chicago.
He’s always around the rim on offense, creating second-chance opportunities with his rebounding. He will be a serviceable option running to the rim off the pick and roll. When defenses crash into the lane or double the ball handler, Gafford will be open for an easy dunk.
However, there are concerns about his all-around game as he doesn’t really step back outside of the paint and shoot. His three-point shot isn’t really there at all and teams will sag back when he catches the ball near the perimeter. He does need to bulk up so he won’t get moved off the low block. This applies to his defense as well.
For Summer League expectations, Gafford will give the Bulls a boost and will be someone who can produce highlight reel plays. With the signing of Luke Kornet, the Bulls have their backup big in place. Gafford will get a lot of playing time in Vegas but could be spending the majority of the regular season with the Windy City Bulls.
I wrote about his fit in Chicago’s front court the day after the draft.
After signing two veterans, the Bulls decided to go the opposite route with 20-year-old Adam Mokoka. They signed the French forward to a two-way contract and with the majority of his time going to be the WCB, it’s clear they view him as a project. There is a lot to like about him defensively. He has shown sparingly that he can shoot off the dribble from three. Mokoka has a lot of upside but at the same time, he has a lot to work on. A player like him is someone you take a chance on and let him develop in the G-League for a year or two. The 45 days he will get with the Bulls should help him.
Our friends over at Peachtree Hoops did an extensive breakdown on his game.
Justin Simon, who had worked out with Chicago in the pre-draft process, will bring some defensive stability to this Summer League team. After transferring from Arizona, Simon was a lockdown defender at St. John’s. He recorded defensive box plus/minus numbers over 2.5 his two years there and won Big East Defensive Player of the Year in the 2018-19 season. With a 6’11 wingspan, Simon can tower over smaller guards. He can either rise up and block their shot or stick his hand in the passing lane to force a turnover. Simon recorded a steal rate of 2.5% last season. His defensive ability will be on display in Vegas.
There are concerns about Simon on offense. He only shot a true shooting percentage of 50.2 last season. Simon won’t stretch the floor as he rarely shoots (1.9 three-point attempts per 100 possessions) and the 28.9 percentage from that range doesn’t help either. He can slash to the hoop but needs to get to the line a bit more and shoot better (62 percent).
Playing in the Big Sky, Tyler Hall shot lights out at Montana State. The guard from Rock Island, Illinois was taking three’s anytime he had the chance. Hall averaged 16.1 three-point attempts per 100 possessions and had an attempt rate of 59.1 percent. He stretched defenses as leaving him open was almost a sure bucket. Hall shot 40% from three throughout his four-year career with the Bobcats. He shot efficiently from all around the court with a 59.7 career true shooting percent.
Hall could improve his defense as the advanced numbers don’t look so good on that side of the ball for him. At 6’5, he has good size for a guard and it will be something to work on during Summer League. It will also be interesting to see if Hall can keep up the percentages despite the lack of touches. He will have a more limited number of chances to shoot the ball in Vegas.
The Loyola Ramblers have a former member of their basketball team on the Bulls Summer League for the second year in a row. Following Donte Ingram, Marques Townes got an invite to play in Vegas. He led them in scoring at 15.3 points per game and did it on average efficiency (55 true shooting percentage). Townes got his teammates involved often, posting an assist percentage of 24.4. Although he’s only 6’4, Townes isn’t afraid to drive into the paint and gets to the line at an average rate. Townes had a free throw rate of 30.6 and his FT percentages have increased in the three seasons he’s been at Loyola. He was named on the All-Missouri Valley Conference 1st team.
With the Bulls depth at the guard spots, there might not be enough room for Townes even if he has a decent Summer League. He might be able to latch onto another team’s G-League or even get a chance in Europe.
Jonathan Holmes has been on various teams around the world. He’s played for FC Barcelona, Hapoel Tel Aviv, and most recently in Japan with the Yokohama B-Corsairs. Holmes has had some previous playing opportunities with the Boston Celtics and Memphis Grizzlies in the two previous Summer League’s he’s played. He has also gotten playing time with the Cavaliers and Celtics G-League teams but those were very short stints. Especially the one in Cleveland where he left a few days after signing to go play overseas.
With a 6’11 wingspan and standing at 6’9, Holmes can guard both frontcourt positions. He will be able to play in lineups alongside Gafford. At age 26, Holmes will be looking to show he’s made improvements to his game overseas in chances of landing a training camp contract with an NBA team. Finding a new home in Europe is also on the cards.
After playing two seasons with the Windy City Bulls, Mychal Mulder will be looking for his chance with the main team. Despite averaging just 13.7 points and mere 1.7 assists, Mulder’s contributions came from shooting the ball. He was a real three-point threat for the WCB. Mulder shot 41.3 percent from deep and did it on 7.6 attempts per game. With a three-point attempt rate of 65.8 percent, it’s clear he knows his role well within the WCB offense. He will get a chance to show off his marksman abilities in Vegas but there are questions about the rest of his game.
He didn’t post eye-popping numbers in terms of distributing the ball or rebounding. At 6’4 he has struggled on defense, getting overpowered at times. Mulder doesn’t get to the line often with a free throw rate of 14.3 percent. With defenders scrambling towards him whenever he catches the line, Mulder can blow by his man and get to the paint but he needs to show more of it.
Perrion Callandret is the second Big Sky player on this roster but his game really isn’t the same as Hall’s. The five year senior at Idaho averaged 9.6 points and notched three assists per game in his final season. He has flashed potential to be more of a facilitator with his assist percentage going up to 21.5 (he played only two games in the 2016-17 season) his senior year. Callandret has struggled to take care of the ball with a turnover percentage of 21.1 and he will need to show better decision making in Summer League.
Callandret will give the Bulls some minutes at point guard off the bench. At 6’2 you can only fill him in at one position and it will limit the lineups you can roll out with him. He joins the cast of point guards on Chicago’s roster currently.
Obi Enechionyia had a nice career for the Temple Owls. He averaged over double-digit points per game and shot ok from three at 36.6 percent from his career. At 6’8 he provided the Owls another ball-handling option from the perimeter and could also play in the paint if need be. He went undrafted last year, playing for the Pistons Summer League team. He ended up taking his talents overseas to Spain. Enechionyia played for Real Betis last year. He displayed an ability to protect the rim, which he showed often at Temple with a block rate of 5.0 and 5.3 his final two seasons in college.
Enechionyia can play at the four for the Summer Bulls and like Holmes, he can pair with Gafford in the frontcourt. He can play as a stretch big with a three-point attempt rate of 57. He could be in the mix for a training camp invite if he shines in Summer League. Enechionyia looks to be a nice prospect for the Windy City Bulls as well.
Rodney Purvis enjoyed a nice career in college, transferring to Connecticut and was the top scorer on the team during his final season. He went undrafted in 2016 and has been a journeyman the league thus far.
He’s been on rosters for Orlando, OKC, Boston, and Miami. Purvis most recently played for Miami’s G-League team in Sioux Falls. Purvis played poorly in the 16 games he played for the Magic two years ago. He averaged 6 points per game and shot a mere 42.3 true shooting percentage. Purvis is another guy who can jack up three’s at a good rate. In the G-League he’s had trouble finding consistency with his jumper. Purvis shot 39 percent from three in his first season in 2017-18 but it tanked the year after, going to 31 percent. He also needs to take better care of the ball as his turnover percentage as it jumped up from 9.9 to 12.5 percent last season.
Like Callandret, he’s going to battling for playing time in Vegas. Purvis has already shown NBA teams he can at least play in the G-League but he will be looking to get a training camp invitation from someone.
#Bulls' schedule for Vegas Summer League...— Cody Westerlund (@CodyWesterlund) June 21, 2019
July 5: vs. Lakers, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN)
July 7: vs. Cavaliers, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN)
July 8: vs. Pelicans, 8:30 p.m. (NBATV)
July 10: vs. Hornets, 4 p.m. (NBATV)
All times are CT.
Top 8 teams after preliminary round advance to knockout.