Las Vegas Summer League: Bulls vs. Celtics

Mar 31, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Michigan State Spartans guard Denzel Valentine and Kansas Jayhawks head coach Bill Self pose for a photo with their trophies during a press conference at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 31, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Michigan State Spartans guard Denzel Valentine and Kansas Jayhawks head coach Bill Self pose for a photo with their trophies during a press conference at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Chicago Bulls open their Las Vegas Summer League games on Saturday evening against the Boston Celtics. This will be the first in a Bulls uniform for Denzel Valentine along with some familiar faces like Bobby Portis.

Basketball hasn’t been gone all that long, but it feels like it has been a while since we’ve seen the Bulls. Part of the reason that it feels like it has been a long time is due to this being the first time since the pre-Thibodeau days that Chicago missed the playoffs and packed up early.

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Though the lack of a playoff berth was a disappointment, it does mean more excitement for the Summer League squad. Denzel Valentine will be the marquee name on the roster and is the highest pick, No. 14, Chicago has had since 2008 when they got the No. 1 overall pick and selected Derrick Rose. Valentine might not be a Rose-level prospect, but compared to some past first-round picks like Tony Snell, Marquis Teague and Norris Cole, there is a heightened level of excitement.

To open up the LVSL, the Bulls take on the Boston Celtics tonight at 6:00 PM EST. The game is viewable on either NBA TV or through the Watch ESPN website or app.

What To Watch For

Valentine’s first game is the big draw here. He’s a great scorer and can facilitate for teammates. The slightly lower level of competition should also help hide some of defensive weaknesses. But this is about more than just Valentine. Jerian Grant will also be making his first appearance for Chicago tonight, since coming over in the Rose trade with the New York Knicks.

Assistant Pete Myers will be taking the head coaches seat for Summer League this year and it will be interesting to see how he runs the team. Who will get big minutes on opening night and what type of offense, if any, will he be trying to implement. Remember, this is also an important time for fringe players like Rasheed Sulaimon and Patrick Miller who are trying to catch on with Chicago’s D-League team, the Windy City Bulls.

Don’t forget about the Celtics. They have some bright young players of their own who will be on full display. In addition to Jaylen Brown, taken at No. 3 overall in last month’s draft, they also have some intriguing second-year players and foreign talent making a North American debut at the pro level.

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R.J. Hunter and Terry Rozier were first-round picks for Boston in 2015 and haven’t caught on yet. Still, both players have high upside and deserve a good watch in tonight’s matchup. Guerschon Yabusele is another player that has intrigue as a foreign player with upside, but tonight will be a big test of his ability to hang with the American version of the game.

Brown will be the big story, not just because he was considered a controversial choice at No. 3 in the draft, but also due to the barrage of rumors on draft night that the Celtics were working to move the pick and/or player in a deal that would procure Jimmy Butler from the Bulls. Of course, no such transaction ended up happening. Still, much like the Kris Dunn rumors, it will be interesting to see how Brown performs in the context of what the Bulls were being offered for their star player.

Stick with us on Twitter and Facebook, we’ll be on the tweet-machine during the game tonight and you can check back after the game for a rundown of all the important events from tonight’s game and don’t forget, Go Bulls!