If you were to coax the truth out of any member of the Chicago Bulls front office, I think most would confess that Dalen Terry‘s rookie season had much in common with several other players on the roster, in that it was a disappointment. Although the Bulls were once again in need of depth at the wing this season, the former Arizona Wildcat made only 38 appearances and averaged just 5.6 minutes per game when he did manage to get on the court.
Far from the two-way player we hoped he’d be, he clearly still has to add plenty of size if he wishes to make an impact on the defensive side of things, while his shot left much be to desired on the other end of the court. Dalen was one of the least efficient players on the Bulls roster this year, shooting horrible splits from the field (32-72, 44.4%), three-point range (7-27, 25.9%), and even the free throw line (14-21, 66.7%).
He clearly has to make significant improvements if he wishes to become a true rotation player in the NBA, but it’s difficult to justify placing the blame entirely on his shoulders as he wasn’t truly given an ample opportunity to excel in the first place.
Still, it’s hard to ignore the fact that if he had been putting on an exceptional show behind the scenes in practice and open-court scrimmages, then it’d be impossible to deny him more minutes. We saw this happen with Jimmy Butler in 2011, and more recently with Ayo Dosunmu, who started 40 games as a rookie for the Chicago Bulls last season.
For this reason, it’s not all that ridiculous to think the Bulls would go in a different direction knowing what they know now. Personally, I’m still holding out hope that Dalen can become the versatile two-way talent his draft projections envisioned, but only time will tell on that front. Until then, I simply don’t have a rebuttal based in reality for his doubters right now.
If the Chicago Bulls had another chance to make the most of the 2022 NBA Draft, selecting Dalen Terry 18th overall may not be the best move to make.
You can count The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie among the doubters, as in his recent 2022 NBA Re-Draft, he has Terry slipping outside of the top 20. Here’s how the first 17 picks shook out before the Chicago Bulls made their selection in this hypothetical draft.
- Paolo Banchero – Orlando Magic
- Jalen Williams – OKC Thunder
- Chet Holmgren – Houston Rockets
- Jaden Ivey – Sacramento Kings
- Shaedon Sharpe – Detroit Pistons
- Jeremy Sochan – Indiana Pacers
- Keegan Murray – Portland Trail Blazers
- Jabari Smith Jr. – New Orleans Pelicans
- Walker Kessler – San Antonio Spurs
- Bennedict Mathurin – Washington Wizards
- AJ Griffin – New York Knicks (Traded to Thunder)
- Jalen Duren – OKC Thunder
- Dyson Daniels – Charlotte Hornets (Traded to Detroit)
- Mark Williams – Cleveland Cavaliers
- Tari Eason – Charlotte Hornets
- Christian Braun – Atlanta Hawks
- Jaden Hardy – Houston Rockets
That brings us to the 18th pick, where Vecenie has the Bulls picking Gonzaga senior Andrew Nembhard. This wasn’t too big of a reach, as Nembhard was picked 31st by the Indiana Pacers last year and proved to be among the most effective rookies of this class this season.
Averaging 9.5 points and 4.5 assists per game, Nembhard played himself into a larger role the Pacers simply couldn’t deny him as the injuries piled up. Once Nembhard lept into the starting lineup he never looked back, starting in 63 of his 75 games played this season. I’m not sure if the Bulls really need an even more crowded backcourt, but Nembhard’s presence on this team would have made the acquisition of Patrick Beverley completely unnecessary and would have led to an interesting race for minutes between him, Dosunmu, and Coby White.
Following that selection, Vecenie has Ochai Agbaji at No. 19, Malaki Branham at No. 20, and Johnny Davis, Ousmane Dieng, and Dalen Terry comprising a list of the players “next-up” after that point. Given the perceived ceilings a lot of these players hold, I’m not sure I agree that I’d take Nembhard above them, even if he did look better on the court this year.
Vecenie had this to say about Terry’s rookie evaluation:
"“Terry was always going to be a physical project, as he’s a 6-7 wing who was very skinny. He’s also struggled to shoot it early on throughout his career. But Terry was always an energy-first, defensive wing who would need some skill development. His G League season was pretty average, but he did provide the overall impact expected, averaging seven rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.4 blocks per game in those settings.”"
Assuming the players in the “next-up” group were selected in order, this means Terry would have been selected No. 23 to the Memphis Grizzlies. As much as he may have disliked rotting on the bench this season, at the very least he can say his rookie season wasn’t spoiled by Memphis’ locker room dramatics. I’m glad Vecenie agrees Dalen was drafted at approximately the correct range, and I look forward to seeing more from Terry next season as his game progresses.