Bulls: 3 takeaways from blowout loss to Knicks in Summer League play

Dalen Terry, Chicago Bulls, 2022 NBA Summer League (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Dalen Terry, Chicago Bulls, 2022 NBA Summer League (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

Well, at least I’m glad that’s over. In the second game of the NBA 2K23 Summer League, the New York Knicks trounced the Chicago Bulls and handed the team a decisively-embarrassing 101-69 defeat.

Or at least, it would be embarrassing if these games had any impact on the actual regular season. Fortunately for Chicago, they don’t. But the Bulls aren’t all so lucky here, as this beatdown taught the team a few invaluable lessons.

The Bulls will have two days to soak this information in before taking on the Toronto Raptors. Hopefully, by then the team can get back on track and start showcasing what this young group can do. Until then, we need to talk about what they can’t do.

It may not have been the most thrilling thing to watch, but the Chicago Bulls learned a few valuable lessons from their blowout loss to the Knicks in Vegas.

1. Justin Lewis is what we wanted Malcolm Hill to be

At this point, investing any hope in Malcolm Hill cracking the Bulls rotation is a lost cause. He is what he is at this point in his career, which is a talented hustle player without the skills and finesse to take things to the next level. Set to soon turn 27 years old, time is certainly not on Hill’s side.

The same could not be said for the 20-year-old Justin Lewis, however, who has managed to impress many and earn a two-way contract alongside Hill on the Chicago Bulls. While Hill made egregious errors, shooting 2-for-10 and posting a game-worst -26 plus/minus, Lewis played fairly well in a big loss and at least looked the part of an actual NBA player at times.

Chicago will be banking on Lewis’ upside and work ethic to shine through as the year progresses and he gets more reps down in the G League with the Windy City Bulls.

2. Dalen Terry needs quality teammates

It’s difficult watching Dalen Terry struggle out there as a primary ball handler knowing that if fellow members of Chicago’s young core — Patrick Williams and Ayo Dosunmu— were out there, it’d likely be a different story for the rookie. Coming out of college, playmaking was touted as one of Terry’s most significant strengths; but that aspect has yet to shine through in his two summer league games thus far.

Terry has registered 9 assists to his 15 turnovers thus far, which is certainly not very encouraging to see. Where I’m willing to give him a break, however, is that the difficulty of passes he’s attempting is very high. He’s clearly showing to be comfortable with the game and his ability to put the ball where he wants it, but his supporting cast is not capitalizing on these opportunities.

It’s just hard to believe that a player with highlight reels full of savvy perfectly-timed passes and one of the best assist-to-turnover ratios in the nation would just immediately crumble under the pressure of the NBA atmosphere. I still believe Dalen will rise to the challenge and look better with better teammates around him like those he had in Arizona, but it would certainly help if he alleviated these concerns himself with his play before the Summer League concludes.

3. Marko Simonovic isn’t NBA ready

Marko Simonovic shocked all Chicago Bulls fans with an incredible 27 point, 13 rebound, and 3 block outing against the Dallas Mavericks to kick things off in Las Vegas. That being said, the Mavericks had no one taller than 6’6″ log 20 or more minutes, and only one player taller than 6’9″ play at all. For this reason, I was cautiously skeptical that Marko’s dominance was owed to nothing more than a size advantage.

Fast forward to Sunday, and the 6’10” Jericho Sims absolutely terrorized Simonovic on both ends of the court. Sims had an efficient 11 points and 10 rebounds, turning the game into an affair thoroughly difficult to watch for Bulls fans. By contrast, Simonovis posted 1 point on 0-for-5 shooting from the field, while committing an egregious 7 personal fouls and 3 turnovers.

Marko won’t have that size advantage in the NBA, and until he figures out how to surpass this obstacle, he will remain comfortably 4th on the Chicago Bulls’ depth chart at center.

Next. 3 weaknesses the Bulls addressed this offseason. dark