What you should take away from the Bulls from their Summer League champ season
Here's what we've noticed about some important players a part of taking the Bulls to the Summer League Finals and winning, and how the new veterans will add to this team despite negative predictions.
Denzel Valentine, SG
Valentine hasn't yet played his first NBA game, so we can't compare how he's playing during the summer to how he plays normally (except for if we compared it to his days as a Spartan). His jumpshot suffered, but this barely influences his value as a player- he has vision and passing talent, control of the ball, skills with driving and floating, and dishing it out. People are crazy to say that he'll be no more productive than Snell, or any other normal young rookie. His jumpshot will get warm with time, and even though he obviously won't start, he still will get a lot better all around soon enough. He was drafted 16th overall for a reason. Definitely by before the middle of this coming season I am positive that he'll have stepped up compared to how he's playing in the Summer League as far his scoring goes. Still, he's been a super impactful playmaker. And no one will forget either one of his clutch shots in the semi finals, and finals- twice in that one game.
He has shown great comfort, ease, and IQ playing recently, despite his slightly-disappointing stats. He's gave some great looks to his teammates each game, but they didn't always see them all coming, resulting in some fumbles. In other words he should've got credit for a lot more assists per game because he had passes right to players within layup range, but they didn't catch them so his stats were gipped there.
Don't forget that he did indeed show a lot of range in MI, so his shot has just been cold- this doesn't mean he doesn't have one. This most likely means, for his first couple seasons at least, that he'll end up having inconsistent outside shooting nights where he'll maybe only score 10 points in and nearly outside of the paint, but the next game he'll drop 15 or more from beyond the wing or barely inside it. But that's no big deal if he's smart enough to realize early on in the night that his shot isn't falling.
Bobby Portis, PF
Bobby P was definitely the best guy out there, consistently. The summer league consists of the guys who are mostly the less-experienced players, but regardless of who Portis is facing, he has shown constant value being a rebounding man and able to work in the post. Not to mention the big man's hit the 3 ball over and over. He is really sharpening his skills over these summer games. Watch out for him when the season starts. The dude's got heart, and being still young, has lots of promise.
One thing that stands out to me as I watch the Summer League games is that third-year ex-Piston Spencer Dinwiddie can slow down and speed up on a dime, while never losing control of the dribble. Yes, this is a normal skill for point guards, but this point guard (who can also plays the 2) is 6 foot 6.
While he surely isn't a huge impact for the Bulls, and he only played 12 games last season, the more games he plays the more ease he'll have in making beneficial plays for the team. Soon that's exactly what he'll bring.
He is, again, one of the auspicious, newer players that will really get better and better throughout the next couple of years. This is a key concept to the rebuilding steps the front officemen are taking to become a feared talent of strong, young athletes within the next season or two, so he fits right into that.
Jerian Grant, PG
The Washington Wizards took Jerian Grant in the 2015 Draft. He was 19th overall. His rights were moved to the Hawks, and again finally settled with the Knicks.
In college ball for Notre Dame, he was known to have explosive slams. This athleticism is obvious, and advantageous. His quickness and superb automatic and involuntary actions that translates to offense and defense is additionally very valuable.
Last year, debuting into the NBA, he averaged 5.6 points, over 2 assists, and 1.9 rebounds; His percentage was nearly 40 from the floor and 22 from 3. These aren't jaw-dropping by any means, but a) that is only his first year, and b) guys that score 5.6 points can still be effective through other aspects, which he is showing. He will increase each of those category's stats next year- and the year after that. All in all Jerian Grant will show us again how he can run the floor and incorporate his physicality to play a good backup point his incoming first year with the Bulls.
Now, stepping away from the players participating in the summer league, let's analyze some important values and cons in the two veteran backcourt additions to the team that some fans are uneasy about.
Rondo isn't a good shooter, but he was league top in assists 3 times. Three. He doesn't need to have good shooting abilities because his role is solely to create plays for his teammates. If he were just a decent playmaker, I'd say "ya he needs to step it up in other aspects of the game", but he's already exceptionally great at one thing and other guys on the team can feed off of that. And it's not like he can't drive and finish of the glass.
Dwyane Wade, SG (used to play point in early career)
No- Wade can't shoot from deep. But he can drive, work that block, play good, physical defense, have quick feet on both ends, and benefit the team by easily being able to adapt to their roles to fit himself into everyone's weaknesses. Which is exactly what he did in Miami. He is keeping his body in fantastic durable shape despite his age and years already played with some injuries.
People are also worried that this years Bulls team is the worst outside shooting team in the league with Wade, Rondo, and Valentine. First of all, Wade has a reliable mid-range jumper, and he has other talents for scoring, too. He can drive, dribble, create space, and pass for other teammates to score because he has vision. And as for Valentine, he's definitely not producing there either, but he's a clutch guy so he'll do what he has to when we need him most. He's shown NBA range in college. Rondo is just as bad on this topic, but both him and Washington make up in passing and playmaking what they lack outside. And let's not forget about Jimmy Butler, everyone. He can make it rain like he's melting ice cubes over his head while taking a relaxing vacation in the Amazon Jungle. Take a look at last season where he constantly, frequently, and comfortably knocked down jumpshot after jumpshot after jumpshot, from mid-range, to occasional 3s, to elbow shots. No, he's not Kyle Korver- he shoots 33% from beyond the arc. But just because he's not making 3s doesn't mean he's not a shooter. Since when does being a shooter just regard just 3-point shooting?
Lastly, an incredibly important thing the Bulls are going to have to establish is that they need threats from the 3-point line. Otherwise, they won't have proper spacing out so that guys like Wade and Rondo (and possibly Valentine, depending on what role he chooses to have, whatever's best for the whole team) can have lanes to drive. Jimmy Butler doesn't need that driving space as much, because even though he drives well he has a great shot to use, too. But we definitely need Doug, Niko, and Bobby (on and off) to be on the wing.