Bulls’ Dalen Terry wins award in first Summer League practice


Terry wins ‘most competitive’ award in 1st Bulls practice originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The Chicago Bulls’ Summer League team, led this year by assistant coach John Bryant, is taking a direct approach to infusing competitiveness into practices.

“We’re keeping track of ‘wins’ throughout the week,” Bryant told reporters after his team’s first group session on Saturday. “Every drill we are competing, every game we are competing. And we’re gonna see who wins after the week.”

Saturday culminated with Bryant tabbing Patrick Williams — who will not play in Summer League games but, along with Ayo Dosunmu, is working with the team over the weekend — to name the group’s “most competitive” player of the day.

The distinction went to Dalen Terry.

“That means everything. I appreciate Pat for doing that,” Terry said of the honor. “It gave me a little bit more confidence, actually, because he was here last year, he’s been through what I’ve been through. For him to do that is definitely a nod and respect.”

Terry added that he and Williams had multiple head-to-head matchups during drills and scrimmages. The rookie played diplomat when asked who got the better of those battles, but by all accounts he is already living up to his predraft billing as a fierce competitor.

“We guarded each other a little bit,” Terry said. “He’s (Williams) been in the league, so I give him his respect. But I’m going to compete. I ain’t backing down now.”

Terry and Bryant were both non-committal on role or skill development expectations for the 18th overall pick when the team travels to Las Vegas next week (its first game is on Friday, July 8).

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But Bryant noted that Terry was in the Bulls’ facility working with the team’s shooting coaches three times on Friday alone. Terry called out player development coordinator Ty Abbott, specifically, as someone he’s already worked closely with. Expect Terry to be featured prominently in the team’s Summer League slate — and in a variety of ways.

“I’m very versatile,” Terry said of his role during scrimmages. “So I was all over the court. I was bringing it up, I was rebounding, I was taking the ball out, setting screens. I can’t really give you the role. I was doing a lot.”

Here are some other notes from the first day of the Bulls’ Summer League training camp, which will run through Tuesday:

Muscular Marko

Bryant was quick to heap praise on second-year big man Marko Simonović for the work he’s done on his body this offseason. And it’s true. Even from across the practice court, Simonović’s gains are noticeable compared to his more wiry frame last season.

“He’s bigger than me, and I pride myself on being a big really fit guy. His shoulders look like a grown man,” Bryant said of Simonović. “He’s obviously been working, he’s obviously been doing something — he’s been eating at least. But he looks great. That was something we had asked him (to do this offseason) is really work on his body.”

Last season was Simonović’s first with the Bulls after being drafted in the second round of the 2020 draft and stashed overseas for a year. While he nearly averaged a double-double (17 points, 9.8 rebounds) for the team’s G League affiliate, he didn’t log a single non-garbage time minute for the big-league Bulls, even as they desperately searched for frontcourt depth.

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All of which is to say: Much work remains before projecting Simonović to play a role of any substance. But the hope is that building muscle and logging reps against professional competition will allow him to better navigate contested rebound and scoring chances around the basket — and, in general, match up with NBA physicality.

“He’s gotta be able to at least take contact and finish. Can he be a consistent rebounder? He really has good touch. Can he shoot consistently? I think all of those things will be answered in the next 17 days,” Bryant said of Simonović. “If I had to bet on him, I would. Because he’s obviously met us halfway with his body.”

Early impressions of Justin Lewis

The Bulls filled one of their two-way slots shortly after the draft by inking Marquette forward Justin Lewis. According to Bryant, his energy was palpable in the gym during workouts.

“That man comes with a lot of energy every day,” Bryant said. “The dude comes with a smile, he’s always in the gym. I probably had to kick him out of the gym, I forget what night it was, I said, ‘Hey we have a long week and we haven’t started playing games.’ He’s just in here and his energy is very infectious.”

Lewis measured 6-foot-7 ½ with a 7-2 ½ wingspan at the combine and dramatically improved his scoring average (from 7.8 to 16.8 points per game) and 3-point percentage (from 21.9 to 34.9) between his freshman and sophomore seasons at Marquette. Bryant touted his potential versatility multiple times, particularly as a multi-positional defender.

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Playing on a two-way contract, Lewis will be capped at 50 regular-season appearances with the Bulls next season. Still, he’s worth monitoring in Vegas.

Bryant in the big chair

Bryant joined Billy Donovan’s staff before the 2020-21 season after a six-year stint in the 76ers organization. This, he said, is his first time leading a Summer League coaching staff.

“I’ve never talked so much in my life, so I’ve got a cough drop in right now,” he cracked.

But he was sincere when asked what he hopes to get out of the opportunity.

“I want to empower others. This is not about me,” Bryant said. “I told the staff and the team from day one that this is not about me. I know my name says head coach. But I’m here to empower them, and I’m here to help the players improve.”

Windy City Bulls head coach Henry Domercant, assistant to the head coach Paul Miller, and video coordinators Chris Kent and Billy Donovan III fill out the rest of Bryant’s staff.

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