7.7 percent. What is this statistic? Here are some reasonable guesses: The chance Gar Forman ever makes a good trade, the chance the Bulls win a summer league game, the chance any team has of beating the Warriors.
Though it could represent any of those, the real nature of the statistic is much more horrifying: it’s Lauri Markkanen‘s shooting percentage in game two of the summer league. On 13 attempts Monday, Markkanen only knocked down one shot: a dunk at the start of the game. The seventh overall pick has been mediocre on the boards, collecting 17 rebounds over two matches.
Denzel Valentine, who spearheaded the Bulls championship efforts in the Summer League last year, was 1-12, good for a whopping 8.3 percent shooting mark. No Bulls player with more than one field goal attempt shot over 38 percent, while three Atlanta players achieved that feat. The culmination was an ugly 75-55 loss to the Hawks. Of course this was just one bad game, but through two contests there haven’t been too many good signs.
On Saturday, the Bulls kicked off the Summer League with a 91-75 defeat at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks. Valentine and Markkanen were much better that game, as they both poured in 5 of 11 shot attempts. Still, the Bulls played poor defense, and it’s something manager and regular season assistant coach Randy Brown should try to work on with the young collection of players.
Though the shooting woes were certainly exaggerated in the second game, there seems to be one key element contributing to the struggles: Cameron Payne. Tasked with the point guard position after being acquired from Oklahoma City, the sophomore from Murray State has failed to manage the offense efficiently. In two contests averaging 28 minutes per game, he’s turned the ball over seven times, and only recorded five assists. On top of that, he’s only shooting 35 percent. So while the second game was probably an anomaly, the first two matches as a whole shed light on the point guard problem. Where’s Kris Dunn to save the day? After a subpar first game, the Bulls announced Dunn would be out for the remainder of the two-week summer league with a family issue.
Payne certainly isn’t an integral part of the Bulls future, but Dunn hopes to be, and it’s difficult for fans to miss out on a showcase of Dunn’s talents. Meanwhile, Markkanen and Valentine need to step up their showcases. Markkanen’s key feature, his shooting ability, was completely absent in the second game, as he went 0-10 from beyond the arc. The last thing the Bulls need is for their mild-rebounding big guy to be streaky from three-point land. I would also like to see Valentine start dominating the stat sheet, as after a fair amount of playing time in the NBA, he should take over on the court facing the young guns.
Nikola Jovanovic: After two games, the 23-year old Serbian center is 5-8 from the field, while racking up 10 rebounds in just 26 total minutes of play.
Basically everyone else, but especially Markkanen, Payne, and Antonio Blakeney, whose 5-14 shooting rate is bearable but has tallied 0 assists in 36 minutes as a point guard.
Tuesday, July 11 at 5:00 P.M CDT against the Washington Wizards.