The 2018 NBA summer league season wrapped up on July 17th, and teams got an opportunity to see their new draftees’ strengths and weaknesses. The Chicago Bulls, specifically, finally saw their two first-round draft picks in action, along with some of their G League prospects.
Three Bulls’ players, in particular, stood out, due to their terrific stat-lines and impact on the court. So, without any further ado, let’s take a look at the standout performers from the 2018 summer league for the Bulls.
Wendell Carter Jr.
By far the most impressive summer league performance for the Bulls came from 19-year old Wendell Carter Jr. The big man from Duke had a fantastic summer league showing which earned him a spot on the All-Summer League First Team, alongside Josh Hart, Collin Sexton, Kevin Knox and Christian Wood. He also managed to prove that he is in fact a worthwhile pick for the Bulls.
Averaging 14.6 points and 9.4 rebounds, Carter demonstrated his scoring ability as well as his dominance on the glass. He was extremely efficient on the offensive end, shooting a robust 55% from the field and a superb 43% from the beyond the arc. His versatile nature was on full display, as he scored in the post, off the dribble, using the pick-and-roll and even knocked down a few spot-up jumpers.
In addition, Carter Jr. logged 2.6 blocks, a testament to his defensive prowess and aptitude at holding down the paint. He is an outstanding help defender and rotates over quickly to reject the opponent’s shot attempt. In Chicago’s first summer league contest against the Cavaliers, Carter recorded five blocks on the day, including this highlight reel denial on Ante Zizic.
During the Bulls-Lakers game, coach Fred Hoiberg praised Carter.
“He doesn’t back down from anybody, his shot blocking ability is unbelievable, and he’s very comfortable with his left hand,” Hoiberg said.
If the summer league is any sort of reflection of what’s to come from Carter Jr., Bulls’ fans should be very excited. Carter is the full package, and once the regular season kicks off, he should play a big role in Hoiberg’s game plan moving forward.
The 22nd pick in the draft, Chandler Hutchison, was solid in all aspects of the game throughout the summer league. The 6’7″ small forward from Boise State logged 32.4 minutes per game, the most out of any Bull.
The high amount of playing time he received led him to average 11.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 3.6 assists. But perhaps the most exciting stat from Hutchison was his 50% three-point field goal percentage. He can knock the three-ball down with efficiency and confidence.
In addition to the three-pointer, Hutchison’s athleticism and tight handle allows him to blow by defenders and push the ball in transition. Along with scoring, Hutchison also has a surprising amount of court vision for a forward. On more than a few occasions, he would penetrate the defense and either kick it out to a wide-open three-point shooter or find a cutting teammate for an easy lay-in.
One area Hutchison does need to improve on is his turnover numbers. He averaged 3.2 turnovers per game; that number will need to go down if he is going to be handling the ball more and more for the Bulls. Also, his free throw percentage of 65% could use some work. This is especially important considering his ability to drive in and draw contact.
Despite all the things Hutchison has going for him, he always puts the team first and knows he can do more. When asked to describe his summer league play by K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, Hutchison stated that it was “not good enough when we go 1-2. I got to find ways to help the team win. We have two losses, so obviously not doing enough, got to be better.”
This is the type of mentality that helps a team win basketball games. When a player puts the team’s performance before his own, the whole organization benefits. And that is exactly what Hutchison is all about.
After spending the majority of the 2017-2018 season in the G League, point guard Antonio Blakeney finally got his time to shine in the summer league. The G League Rookie of the Year led all Bulls players with 21 points per game on 40% shooting from the field. He also added 4.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and a steal.
Blakeney has always been touted as a high-level scorer, and he exhibited that throughout the tournament by slashing to the rim and pulling up from all around the court. He is a fearless player and is not afraid to shot his shoot or take risks.
Due to his excellent summer league play, Blakeney recently earned a two-year, minimum contract with the Bulls. While he could prove to be an impact player off the bench, Hoiberg should be cautious with how he incorporates Blakeney into the squad. Blakeney shot an unimpressive 32.1% from the beyond the arc and logged 3.4 turnovers per game in the summer league.
Additionally, when Blakeney hits a cold slump, he just keeps shooting and shooting to get out of it. In the Bulls’ 69-60 loss against the Los Angeles Lakers, Blakeney had just five points and shot a horrid 13.3% from the field and 16.7% from three. Moving into the regular season, he will have to learn to choose his shots more carefully and facilitate more.
That being said, Blakeney has proven through his G League (averaged 32 points) and summer league performances that he is a pure scorer and that is something Chicago could utilize in a very effective manner, as long as they are careful.
Follow Nikhil on Twitter: @nikhilsriram14 –Feature Photo Credit: Bulls.com