NBA Summer League basketball allows NBA executives and coaches a look-see at young players. It is designed to give young, unproven players a chance to showcase what they have. It is also a battleground for up-and-coming coaching prospects. Many assistant coaches are looking to prove that they can get the job done with the clipboard in their hands.
The Chicago Bulls are winless so far in two summer league games. That said, there is still plenty that we should have learned.
A future head coach has emerged.
Adrian Griffin, a candidate for the Trailblazers' coaching vacancy, can coach.
Looking up and down at the Bulls’ summer league roster, there is not much to get excited about whether you are an outsider or a casual fan. The roster is not filled with a who’s who of the recent NBA draft. It is comprised of Jimmy Butler—last year’s Bulls’ draft pick—and this year’s draft pick, Marquis Teague.
Throw in some undrafted rookies, a few NBDL players and a journeyman in Leon Powe, and you have the Bulls’ summer league team.
Griffin is the head coach of this cacophony of players, and to his credit he has coached well.
He understands how to use his substitutions and when to script plays. That ability should pay off for Griffin as he is basically auditioning himself around the league.
He also has his protégé, Butler, playing with supreme confidence.
Butler has flourished.
While Bulls fans have been chomping at the bit to see Teague play, Butler has emerged as a legitimate component for the bench. He is driving to the lane and drawing fouls.
It is all because of an aggressive approach that he has employed so far in the summer league.
Yet simply leading the Bulls in scoring at 24.5 points does not tell the entire story. Butler has been the vocal leader on the basketball court—slapping high-fives with his teammates and encouraging them when they make mistakes has been Butler’s role.
The rookie will struggle.
While Butler has shined, Teague has struggled. He seems to be forcing the issue with the ball. As a result, Teague has turned the ball over 11 times. He has also struggled with his rhythm as he is getting his first taste of NBA basketball.
On this team, it seems that everyone has followed his lead: As Teague goes, so does the rest of the team.
Teague will have to play with some poise if he has any designs of being a regular contributor for the Bulls next season.
Have the Bulls found a diamond in the rough?
The big surprise so far has been the play of Malcolm Thomas.
The 6’9” power forward has provided much needed energy and defense and has double-doubles in both games. Coach Griffin has used Thomas as a table-setter on the defensive end of the floor. Thus far it has paid off to perfection.
Other players that have impressed are Edwin Ublies, Jamie Skeen, Ramone Moore and Demetri McCamey. Among them, Thomas stands the best chance at cracking the Bulls’ roster.
We will miss basketball.
Watching the summer league makes me yearn for NBA basketball. The last thing I learned was how much I wish the basketball season was totally year round. Or at the very least, I wished that the summer league lasted until the end of July. It is fun to watch the younger players try to make a name for themselves.
It is a shame that the summer league ends prematurely in my opinion. With the Olympics coming up, we get one last fix before training camps begin in the fall...but it will not be the same.