Chicago's new signing Onuralp Bitim stuns in Bulls debut

Cleveland Cavaliers v Chicago Bulls
Cleveland Cavaliers v Chicago Bulls / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

When the Chicago Bulls announced their decision to bump the two-way contracted Onuralp Bitim up to the main roster with their final roster spot, I was admittedly far from optimistic. I failed to see how a G League talent was going to help the Bulls in their pursuit of the playoffs right from the jump.

Fortunately, we wouldn't have to wait long to see what Bitim was capable of, as Chicago opted to give the Turkish sharpshooter heavy minutes in his Bulls debut — at least, what should be considered his official welcome to the NBA moment. Bitim would step into the sixth man role last night in a crucial home game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

I wasn't holding out much hope for Bitim to make an immediate impact, yet he still played surprisingly well. Tallying 10 points and 6 rebounds on 3-for-4 shooting, Bitim looked anything but lost out there as the only bench player to log 15 minutes or off the bench.

The Bulls needed every minute he had to offer, as this game extended deep into double overtime. Coby White, DeMar DeRozan, and Ayo Dosunmu each logged 48 minutes or more, but it was Bitim's presence that was often the hardest to ignore. Bitim joined Andre Drummond (who contributed 17 points, 26 rebounds, and 3 blocks in his own right) as the most unexpected x-factors for Chicago last night.

Bitim posted a game-high +16 plus/minus, contributing just enough to help propel the Bulls to a 132-123 in extra time.

Newly-signed Onuralp Bitim defied all expectations in his first meaningful Bulls minutes.

The irony of beating the Cavaliers after losing the NBA-worst Pistons certainly is not lost on me. Winners in 20 of their last 24 entering last night's game, beating the Cavaliers is the type of quality that might just be enough to offset the embarrassment of losing to the Pistons.

Shooting a historically poor 2-for-29 from three-point range in that last outing against Detroit, the Bulls had to prove they had a plan to bounce back from Tuesday's abysmal showing. Bumping a sharpshooter like Bitim into the rotation was the least they could do, but I'm still surprised to see him get so much run in his first game after joining the main roster.

Against all odds, Bitim actually looked solid from the jump in his first real NBA game. If he can continue playing like he did last night and has consistently done in the G League, there may be a spot for him in the NBA after all.

I'll admit, I'm still a tad skeptical of the decision to sign Bitim due to the fact he was already a part of Chicago's system on a two-way contract; adding him to the main roster without seeing him in action at the NBA level wasn't really a necessary move quite yet. That being said, if the front office truly believes that Bitim can become a reliable role player moving forward, locking him down on a multi-year deal rather than risking losing him in free agency may pay dividends down the road.

dark. Next. 5 players the Bulls gave up on way too soon. 5 players the Bulls gave up on way too soon