Chicago Bulls Summer League Recap

McDermott in game one vs. Clippers
McDermott in game one vs. Clippers

The Chicago Bulls won their third straight game with a blow out win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday afternoon. Six Bulls players scored in double digits, led by Doug McDermott’s twenty points.

McDermott was impressive once again, coming off a thirty-one-point performance against the Nuggets on Sunday night.

The Chicago Bulls finished up 3-0 and snagged the top seed in the NBA Summer League. The Bulls play the winner of the Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Phoenix Suns game on Thursday at 9:30 p.m. central standard time. The tournament seedings and match ups can be found here.

The Bulls squad looks impressive, handing their opponents losses by an average of over twenty-five points. Look for them to continue their success on Thursday night.

There are three standout players on the Chicago Bulls summer league team: second year player Tony Snell and rookies Doug McDermott and Cameron Bairstow. Each has been a key part of the Bulls success in Las Vegas.

McDermott has been great on the offensive end and hasn’t been too shabby on defense either. That being said, I have some serious concerns as to whether he is going to be able to guard NBA small forwards.

With the signing of Pau Gasol and the addition of Nikola Mirotic, the Bulls should have one of the best frontcourts in the league. Between Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Tony Snell, and Kirk Hinrich, the Bulls have a very nice backcourt. The one position of weakness, the shallowest position on the Bulls team, is the small forward position.

Expect teams to take advantage of McDermott’s liabilities on defense whenever he is on the floor. Despite being a rookie, McDermott is no ordinary rookie. He is a coach’s son, a national player of the year, and was a four-year starter at Creighton University. McDermott comes with experience and he is an offensive weapon at a position the Bulls need the most help at, so look for him to get significant minutes off the bench. Who knows, maybe he’ll be a starter by the end of the year, but he is definitely the Bulls’ Achilles heal on the defense end.

Tony Snell has been playing spectacular. Granted, this is the summer league, so you can’t take the stats too seriously, but after watching him play in three straight games, I am impressed. Snell is averaging over 20 points per contest and has made 12 out of 23 of his three point shots. It looks like he’s spent some serious time working on his offensive game. If Snell can shoot anywhere close to this well, he is going to be a big spark off the bench for the Bulls.

Bairstow, the Bulls second round pick out of New Mexico, has been a defensive presence for the Bulls summer league squad. While he has been starting at center, Bairstow stands just six-foot-nine, and is more suited to play power forward in the NBA. As Andrian Griffin, Bulls assistant coach and summer league head coach put it, “Cameron, I feel like he already has an NBA body and mentality.”

Bairstow, a tough-nosed, defensive-minded big man, is constantly active on the defensive end. Bairstow constantly outhustles his opponents on the court and looks like a lock to make the Bulls roster, despite playing the power forward position, which is the deepest position they have. While Pau Gasol, Taj Gibson, and Nikola Mirotic will get the bulk of minutes this season, Bairstow will be a valuable addition to the Bulls roster.

Depth was key for the San Antonio Spurs in beating the LeBron James and the Miami Heat in the 2014 NBA Championship. With Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol, Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, Nikola Mirotic, Tony Snell, Doug McDermott, Kirk Hinrich, and potentially Cameron Bairstow, among others, this Bulls team is going to be deep.

If the Chicago Bulls manage to stay healthy, specifically Derrick Rose, the Bulls will be championship contenders this season. While they struck out on super star free agents this summer, they made some really nice additions and managed to stay financially flexible for future years.

Keep in mind that Jimmy Butler will be a restricted free agent in 2015, barring an extension. Avery Bradley, a similar player and restricted free agent this summer, signed a four-year thirty-two million dollar deal with the Celtics. Butler will be looking at similar money and the Bulls should be able to retain him. That is big for the Bulls as Jimmy Butler has evolved into a defensive cornerstone of the team who is critical to their success going forward.

Look out for another article following the Bulls matchup tomorrow night.

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