Wendell Carter Jr., Chandler Hutchison set to make Summer League debuts
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Antonio Blakeney undoubtedly will get shooting opportunities.
That goes without saying after watching the guard feel like he had the green light as soon as the team bus pulled out of the hotel for the arena during his time in the G-League or with the Bulls last season.
But who is the front office going to keep tabs on?
It will be fixated on draft picks Wendell Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison as the Bulls begin their Summer League schedule Saturday night in Las Vegas. The big question will be: Did the Bulls grab the right two players to move the rebuild along in Year 2?
“We understand that we’re building,’’ vice president of basketball operations John Paxson said. “That doesn’t mean things are going to happen overnight. All we want both Wendell and Chandler to do is to come to work every day, everything’s here for them to acclimate to the organization and to their teammates. As long as they work, good things will happen for them. We believe that wholeheartedly.’’
If they don’t, the heat will continue to rise on why the front office didn’t mortgage draft assets and move up a few spots to take Jaren Jackson Jr., who has been a highlight reel through the early games of Summer League play.
Carter Jr. didn’t believe performing would be a problem.
“I’m a very hard worker,’’ Carter said. “I’m a winner, also. I come in and do whatever I have to do to help the team win. So I think that I’ll [make] an immediate impact.’’
That would be nice, and he’ll definitely get his chance. Carter likely will start with Blakeney and Ryan Arcidiacono in the backcourt, with Hutchison in the frontcourt.
More important, it will give coach Fred Hoiberg some much-needed practice time with his younger players over the next few weeks, which in many ways is actually more important than the actual games.
“We’ll have a couple of our other players play out in Vegas to see what we have,’’ Hoiberg said. “The thing I know that these two players will do is come in and work extremely hard. They’re not going to back down from any type of challenge.
“Development is as important as anything when you have a young team. You look at last year, we had goals of competing and playing at a high level every time we stepped on the floor, whether it was a practice or a game or a shootaround. And I thought we accomplished that. Our guys all the way through, from the different combinations we had on the floor, competed.
“The other thing is development. Our guys bought into getting better. They came in early and stayed late. A lot of our players last year had career-type years. Our job for myself and my staff is to get these players better.’’
The Bulls made big strides last season, but this is an organization that far too often treats coaches like copper coins, discarding them whenever expectations aren’t met — fair or unfairly.
This will be Year 4 of Hoiberg’s five-year contract, so getting Carter and Hutchison up and acclimated will be important.
“These guys are willing to work,’’ Hoiberg said. “I know that for a fact. Talking to their [college] coaches, they’re part of great programs. I know that work ethic will carry over.’’
One Summer League guarantee: Blakeney’s getting his shots up.