Bulls try to extend summer dominance Thursday night
The Bulls will try to continue their summer league mastery tonight (Thursday) when they open the playoffs against the 76ers at 9 p.m. Central time in Las Vegas. This game is not scheduled to be aired live on NBA TV, but will be shown at 8 a.m. Friday morning if you're interested.
The Bulls are the No. 1 playoff seed after rolling to a 3-0 record. They won the three games by an average of 24.7 points, never allowed more than 76 points defensively, and outscored the opponent in all 12 quarters played. Adrian Griffin is head coach of the summer squad.
Tony Snell and rookie Doug McDermott have been standouts. Snell is averaging 20.7 points, while shooting .479 overall from the field. McDermott is at 20.3 points and .485. Second-round pick, center Cameron Bairstow, is averaging 8.3 points and a team-high 6.3 rebounds.
The varsity Bulls need better long-range shooting and summer league has brought some positive signs. As a team, the summer squad is 40 for 78 from 3-point range. Snell is 12 for 23 and McDermott 11 for 21.
No one else on the summer roster is likely to make the regular-season squad. But some other guys playing well are 6-1 guard Lazeric Jones (10.3 pts, 4.3 asts), who played with Derrick Rose at Simeon and spent two years at UCLA from 2010-12; and 6-8 Lance Thomas (10.0 pts, 4.7 rebs), a regular on Duke's 2010 national championship squad. Since then, he's appeared in 106 games for the New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans and played in China last season.
Former Illinois and Warren High School star Brandon Paul is with the team but has not played in any summer games due to a shoulder injury.
If they keep winning, the Bulls could play three more games in the summer tourney after tonight. It's easy to say summer league doesn't mean much, but guys playing well is a decent sign.
Snell and McDermott have been impressive shooters in Las Vegas. Young players shooting poorly is a common issue in summer league. Some field-goal percentage examples through Wednesday: Gary Harris .328, P.J. Hairston .265, Jabari Parker .383, Andrew Wiggins .378, Noah Vonleh .275, Shabazz Napier .276 and Tyler Ennis .269.
Here's a full rundown of the 2014 first-round draft picks playing in Las Vegas. McDermott and T.J. Warren stand out as the two best rookies so far:
Andrew Wiggins, Cavs 13.7 pts, .378 FG pct
Jabari Parker, Bucks 14.5 pts, .383 FG pct.
Dante Exum, Jazz 7.3 pts, .400 FG pct.
Julius Randolph, Lakers 12.0 pts, .448 FG pct
Nik Stauskas, Kings 13.0 pts, .481 FG pct
Noah Vonleh, Hornets 9.3 pts, .275 FG pct
Doug McDermott, Bulls 20.3 pts, .485 FG pct
Zach LaVine, Twolves 14.0 pts, .380 FG pct
T.J. Warren, Suns 20.0 pts, .596 FG pct
Adreian Payne, Hawks 11.3 pts, .348 FG pct
Tyler Ennis, Suns 5.3 pts, .269 FG pct
Gary Harris, Nuggets 18.8 pts, .328 FG pct
Bruno Caboclo, Raptors 11.8 pts, ,412 FG pct
Rodney Hood, Jazz 13.7 pts, .395 FG pct
Shabazz Napier, Heat 9.0 pts, .276 FG pct
P.J. Hairston, Hornets 16.3 pts, .265 FG pct
Kyle Anderson, Spurs 7.8 pts, .387 FG pct