Bulls big man Marko Simonovic will headline several key camp battles
With the Bulls prepared to open fall camp in just over a week, the rookie will have a chance to throw his name in the hat and try to add some much-needed depth to a fragile frontcourt. He won’t be alone, either.
It was a solid dress rehearsal for the big rookie.
Then again, Marko Simonovic went into the Las Vegas Summer League looking to make an impression.
At least a threat to shoot the three? Check.
“I play with confidence, and I think I have this in my hands,’’ Simonovic said. “Next season, I’m trying to help my team.’’
In less than two weeks, he’ll show up to camp and compete for an important role off the bench.
The Bulls’ starting lineup is set: Nikola Vucevic at center, Patrick Williams and DeMar DeRozan on the wings and Zach LaVine and Lonzo Ball in the backcourt.
Billy Donovan’s bench is where things will get interesting, and Simonovic could have a big say.
It’s no secret that frontcourt depth is an issue. The Bulls missed out on LaMarcus Aldridge and Paul Millsap in free agency, as both chose to sign with the Nets over an up-and-comer.
Next on the depth chart after Vucevic are rim-protecting specialist Tony Bradley and Simonovic. But Simonovic also has shown enough to possibly play the stretch-four role if he gets more consistent with his three-point shot, which would mean beating out Alize Johnson and Tyler Cook.
There’s a good chance he plays both, giving the second unit a small look if Donovan wants to go that way.
All eyes will be on the 21-year-old next month, when he’ll compete with several players for a position the Bulls need to fill from within until the trade deadline rolls around.
And while Simonovic might be the most interesting player to watch, he won’t be the only one competing for playing time.
Troy Brown Jr. vs. Derrick Jones Jr.
Both players fall into that wing spot, and both are willing defenders.
Brown showed flashes in the small amount of time he was with the Bulls last season, and Jones has flashed in every dunk contest he has participated in.
What helps both, however, is their versatility. If the Bulls want to go big or get a defensive look out there, Brown and Jones can each slide into the two-guard spot.
Alex Caruso vs. Coby White
They have very different skill sets, but Caruso said the Bulls will be using a three-guard lineup at times.
“The league itself has just gone to such a small-ball mentality that a lot of teams don’t play true centers, and a lot of times you need three or maybe even four guards out there depending on how big your guards are,’’ Caruso said. “So I’m sure that at some point in the season, they’ll test it out.
“That’s something that I think in this league you can’t have enough of, is guard talent. So I’m sure at some point you’ll see a bunch of guards out there.’’
What will be interesting is which guard will be the odd man out late in games when it’s winning time. Does Donovan go with Ball, LaVine and White or does Caruso get the nod over White? Will it be totally matchup-related? Stay tuned.
Ayo Dosunmu vs. the field
The rookie had some solid moments in Summer League, but getting playing time when the games actually matter will be tough.
Dosunmu will have to beat out Javonte Green and Devon Dotson just to get limited minutes behind LaVine, White, Ball and Caruso. Expect a lot of nights at Hoffman Estates with the Windy City Bulls if he can’t pull it off.