After an eventful week of free agency activity, Chicago Bulls basketball is back with their Summer League campaign tipping off next week. This will be a good chance for the coaching staff and fans to take a look at some of the new faces on the team in Ayo Donsumu and Marko Simonovic. It’s also an opportunity to see if some of the young pieces on the Bulls last season such as Patrick Williams and Devon Dotson made offseason improvements in order to take leaps in their games. Last but certainly not least, there are other guys on the team who are fighting for a chance to make a regular season roster or to earn a contract overseas. No matter how you look at it, there is a always a reason to be intrigued by Summer League play. Let’s take a look at the roster:
Guys We Know
There was plenty to like from Patrick Williams rookie season in the NBA. His numbers were decent with a points per game average of 9.2 and he averaged 4.6 rebounds per game. He had a true shooting percentage of around average at 56.2 and showed promise from three with a 39.1 shooting percentage on nearly two attempts per game.
He displayed the amazing athleticism and rim protection which wowed scouts at Florida State. Nobody will forget that play he made against the Suns where he literally blocked DeAndre Ayton and grabbed the ball with one hand all in one motion. His spot up jumper looked decent at times and he also knew how to move without the ball, finding himself for a handful of easy dunks by simply cutting to the hoop at the right time. There were a lot flashes of potential from Williams throughout the season but he also struggled at times as well. He still showed that he has work to do when it comes defending on the perimeter, especially against quicker shooting guards and wings. Also there were times during games where he would disappear offensively and not be assertive enough in finding his own shot. Now he will get to experience Summer League for the first time and this will be a good chance for Williams to show how much improvement he’s made in his game this past summer. Along with Ayo Dosunmu and Marko Simonovic, Williams will be one of the main players to watch for on this Summer League roster. With Chicago’s new look roster, there is some questions as to where Williams fits into all of this. Summer League will be a chance for everyone to a get a potential glimpse at what’s to come from Patrick Williams this season.
Dotson was Chicago’s second two-way player last season but barely played much for Chicago. He appeared in 11 games and didn’t have much burn when he did get in, averaging just 4.5 minutes. Dotson did get some playing time in the G League however. He played for the Canton Charge last season, appearing in 10 games. He averaged 13 points and 5.6 assists per game in the G-League, while shooting 46.7 percent from the field. Dotson did struggle to shoot the ball from the outside, averaging just 27.3 percent and also averaged 1.9 turnovers per game. This is an important Summer League for Dotson. Last season, Billy Donovan chose to play Ryan Arcidiacano over him and even during garbage time, Dotson still didn’t get much time to play. Now is a chance to prove to the coaching staff that he deserves to be in contention for being one of the bench guard spots this upcoming season. He will likely be the starting point guard on this team in Summer League and like Williams, the spotlight will also be on him. A good performance in Vegas can also open up opportunities for other teams to also take a look at bringing in Dotson onto their teams as well as he’s a restricted free agent this sumer. The Bulls will have the chance to match, though, if another team signs him to an offer sheet.
Guys We Scouted
Although most Bulls fans are familiar with the 2019 second round pick, Marko Simonovic didn’t play for Chicago last season so he falls into the “Guys We Scouted” category. He was a “draft and stash” selection with the 44th pick in 2019. After spending another year with Serbian team KK Mega Bemax, Simonovic is now ready to make the journey over to the NBA to play for the Bulls. At 6’11, he is expected to provide depth at center or maybe even power forward depending on the lineup and game situation. Simonovic played 35 games in Europe last season, averaging 15 points and 9.1 assists per game. His shooting numbers look decent with an eFG% of 55 percent and a true shooting of around 60.3 percent. He can hit shots from outside at an okay clip, shooting 32.2 perfect from deep last season on 4.3 attempts per game. From the various highlights shown throughout the season, there is no doubt that Simonovic can score the ball, especially from the post. He can also rebound, as shown by his stats. But Summer League will be a lot of Bulls fans first glimpse at Simonovic. A good Summer League performance will raise the optimism surrounding this team even more.
For a bigger breakdown in his game, here is a scouting report from our friends at Peachtree Hoops on Simonovic before he was drafted by Chicago.
It was a homecoming reunion for Dosunmu and the Chicago Bulls. He is from the city and spent his college days at the University of Illinois. Dosunmu is a combo guard who provide scoring pop as a ball handler and also flashed some nice moments as a passer while in college. He certainly has the talent to score in the NBA and also create shots for others as well. With his large frame, he is now a big body on the perimeter for the Bulls who can guard multiple positions. But there are still questions about his shot selection, decision making at times, and off the ball defense. In Summer League, we will be able to see Dosunmu in the open court, where he thrives the most. Watching how he operates in transition opportunities will give a glimpse at where he currently fits with this Bulls roster in terms of offense. This Summer League will be a chance for Dosunmu to prove to Billy Donovan that he deserves a chance at backup guard minutes this season.
For a more in depth breakdown of Dosunmu, I wrote about him as a prospect and how he fits with the Bulls.
Shittu is a familiar face around the Bulls organization. He worked out for the team in 2019 during the pre-draft process. He played for the Windy City Bulls that season, averaging 12.3 points. The Bulls signed him to the training camp roster last season before waiving him. Shittu spent last season with the Westchester Knicks, where he showed an improvement in play. With Westchester he averaged 14.5 points and 10.1 rebounds per game despite a slight drop in field goal percentage. Shittu will be here to provide center depth on this team. He will be a backup center to Marko Simonovic. Or he could start if Simonovic goes to the four. Shittu will provide rim protection as well as being another inside scoring threat. He can also hold his own out on the perimeter against quicker guards. For Shittu, this is another chance to earn a two-way contract or possibly an actual roster spot with an NBA team. There is also the opportunity of impressing a team in Europe and going overseas.
Ryan Daly will be there to provide depth on the perimeter for this Summer League Bulls roster. He spent his college career at Delaware for two seasons before transferring to Saint Joseph’s in 2018. Daly averaged 20.5 and 18.5 points per game during his two seasons with the Hawks. At 6’5, he was able to provide size and support on the boards, averaging 6.7 rebounds per season at Saint Joseph’s. Daly will be a good piece off the bench for this roster at the wing spot but with his size, he may struggle to guard bigger wings. There is also a worry about his shooting. Daly only averaged a three-point percentage of 30.3 during his time in college and his overall field goal percentage is ok at 42.4. Given he is an undrafted free agent, Daly will be trying to get noticed to earn a training camp invite or perhaps a spot on somebody’s G League roster.
Jaylen Adams is another part of Chicago’s depth at point guard. He went undrafted in 2018 and since then has spent time between the NBA and the G League. Most recently, he spent time with the Milwaukee Bucks this past season before being waived in March. During his college career at St. Bonaventure, Adams showed some scoring pop, averaging 20.6 points per game his junior year. He also knew how to get his teammates involved as well, averaging 5.4 assists throughout his four years in the A10. Adams is a decent three-pint shooter as well with two college seasons where he averaged more than 40 percent from deep. However, the production just hasn’t translated to the NBA. It’s worked in the G League (21.5 points per game for the Herd) however. For their Summer League team, Adams is a good depth addition at point guard. He can score the ball but also knows how to create open shots for his teammates, which is a nice skill to have. Adams will likely be backing up Dotson at the point for the SummerBulls. This Summer League will be a chance for him to try and impress scouts in Europe or a possible return back to the G League is also in play.
Jerome Robinson is one of a trio former first round picks on this summer league roster. He was taken 13th overall by the Clippers but things really didn’t pan for him in LA. After just two seasons with the team he was dealt to Washington before the Wizards waived him this past April. Robinson never averaged more than 12 minutes a game during his time with the Clippers and only started once. He has struggled to shoot the ball well in the pros, with a career effective field goal percentage of 43.9. This opportunity with Chicago at Summer League represents a chance for him to try and earn another chance back in the league. He was a lottery pick just two years ago. A solid performance with the Bulls could see him getting a training camp invite or even a spot to play overseas next season.
Spellman is also a former 2018 first round pick who is looking for another chance to make an NBA roster. After winning a national title at Villanova, he was drafted by the Hawks but since then has bounced around the league for the past two years. Spellman has been traded three times in his career thus far and hasn’t actually played in an NBA regular season game since the 2019-20 season. He has mostly recently been playing for the Erie BayHawks in the G League.
Spellman can play as a small ball five for Chicago, helping the Bulls spread out the floor with shooting but can also attack the offensive glass a well. These were on display during his lone season at Villanova, which can explain why he impressed scouts so much. Spellman shot 43 percent from deep and averaged 10.9 points along with eight rebounds per game with 2.3 of them coming from the offensive side. Like Robinson, he’s looking for another chance to make an NBA roster or even grab the attention of teams in Europe.
Ethan Thompson was one of the pieces on an Oregon State team which turned heads this past March. They won the Pac-12 tournament to earn an automatic bid then as a 12 seed, made it all the way to the Elite Eight before losing to Houston. Thompson averaged 33 minutes for the Beavers this past season and was their leading scorer at an average of 15.7 points per game. Thompson was also one of Oregon State’s main three-point shooting threats as he was second most in attempts, making 32.9 percent of his attempts this past season. Thompson will be here to provide guard depth for the Bulls, competing for minutes behind Dotson and Dosunmu.
According to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, the Bulls signed Thompson to an Exhibit 10 deal. This means that he will get a training camp invite. So a strong performance in Summer League could potentially boost his chances of making the roster as a two-way player or earn him a spot with the Windy City Bulls in the G League next season.
Tyler Bey is here to provide wing depth for this SummerBulls team. At 6’7, he is a good size to play at small forward. He was drafted by the 76ers last season but was moved to the Mavericks in a deal that saw Seth Curry go to Philadelphia. He was one of Dallas’s two-way players last season and appeared in 18 games for them last season but averaged just four minutes. He played much more in the G-League, appearing in 13 games but averaging 27 minutes a game. Bey played 12 games for the Salt Lake City Stars and one for the Long Island Nets. For Salt Lake, he averaged 16.2 points and 9.7 rebounds. He showed some ability to shoot from three as well, averaging 32.5 percent on 3.3 attempts. Bey can crash the offensive boards for Chicago in Vegas and provide second chance opportunities. He averaged 2.8 offensive rebounds per game last season in the G-League for Salt Lake. Bey is fighting for a chance to get another two-way or regular contract with an NBA team.
Stering Manley will provide big man depth for this Summer League Bulls team but he’s quite a journey to get here. He was at the University of North Carolina for four years but played only four games since the end of the 2018-19 season. He struggled with knee injuries and it saw him sit on the sidelines for quite an extended time. Manley’s freshman year numbers look ok with an average of 5.4 points and 3.6 rebounds on good efficacy at 56 percent. But sadly, that was the last time he played more than 20 games a season. Manley will be there to backup Simonovic and Shittu at the center spots. He will be looking to earn training camp invites from teams, which could potentially turn into a two-way deal. There is also the option of going overseas as well.
Troy Baxter Jr.
At 6’9, Troy Baxter Jr. is another wing who will be fighting minutes on this summer league team. He spent the past two seasons at Morgan State after transferring from UNLV and Florida Gulf Coast. Baxter Jr. averaged 15.5 points and 4.4 rebounds for Morgan State this past season. He was named to the 2020-21 All-MEAC 1st team along with being on the MEAC All-Defense 1st team as well. Baxter Jr. can provide defense on the perimeter, where his frame can match up with bigger wings. After averaging less than 30 percent from three in his previous three seasons, he improved his outside shooting by seven percent to 35 while also increasing his number of attempts per game. His true shooting percentage improved as well by four percent. Baxter Jr. had his best offensive season of his college career in 2020-21 and it has helped him get an invite to Summer League. He will looking to get the attention of European scouts or a training camp invite.
The Bulls will play a minimum of four summer league games, with their opener taking place today against the Memphis Grizzlies at 2pm central. Here is how the rest of schedule plays out:
San Antonio Spurs, August 10th, 7PM
Minnesota Timberwolves, August 12th, 3PM
Memphis Grizzlies, August 15th, 9PM