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4 takeaways from Bulls' NBA Summer League

From Dalen Terry to Julian Phillips, a 3-2 mark produced plenty of performances to parse

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Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

The Chicago Bulls concluded their NBA Summer League schedule on Saturday afternoon with a 90-85 victory over the Washington Wizards.

The Bulls, led by Javon Freeman-Liberty’s 24 points, return from Las Vegas with a 3-2 mark. Here are four takeaways from their overall experience:

Dalen Terry offers mixed bag

On the plus side, the second-year guard fared well in a wide variety of defensive assignments, using his length and activity to be a persistent nuisance. He posted nine steals overall.

After a rocky first half in his first game, Terry also displayed prowess in making solid reads off screens, including an ability to make crosscourt passes off the dribble with his left hand. The issue is that this skill is somewhat offset by his lack of self-creation.

Along those lines, with Terry’s relative inability to beat defenders off the dribble on his own, he needs to become a more reliable shooter. Terry needed a strong finish with a 7-for-10 showing against the Wizards just to finish summer league at 33.8 percent shooting.

That included 34.8 percent from 3-point range. And while Terry does have potential as a connecting piece, if he can’t improve his shooting, it’s hard to envision him getting regular-season rotation minutes.

Julian Phillips has potential

Perhaps the most impressive feature about the rookie is that, after sitting out the first game because his contract hadn’t been finalized, he looked overwhelmed in his debut---and then responded in two straight games before a largely invisible and foul-plagued finale.

While Phillips’ statistics of 8.8 points and 3 rebounds don’t jump off the page, he showed an ability to attack the offensive glass and impact games with his athleticism. The Bulls finished 28th in offensive rebounding last season, and Phillips’ knack for finding the ball, not to mention his 43-inch vertical, project to perhaps address this.

The issue, of course, is projecting minutes for the second-round, draft night acquisition. Coach Billy Donovan has at least nine rotational spots basically set in Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic, Patrick Williams, Alex Caruso, Coby White, Jevon Carter, Torrey Craig and Andre Drummond.

But executive vice president Artūras Karnišovas said on draft night that Phillips “can step in right now and probably defend on our level.” And several times, he disrupted passing lanes with his 7-foot wingspan.

Also, for all the rightful draft-night consternation over Phillips’ 23.9 percent 3-point shooting, his form looked solid as he shot 44.4 percent on nine attempts from that distance. Just as important, Phillips didn’t hesitate and took the right shots.

Adama Sanogo justifies two-way contract

The Bulls moved quickly to sign the Connecticut big man to a two-way contract after he went undrafted. While averaging 10.2 points on 65.7 percent shooting and 8.4 rebounds, Sanogo displayed good footwork and a high IQ for solid positioning at both ends.

And while he’ll need to improve his shooting, he has a nice touch around the basket, often off solid rolls to the rim. Sanogo also has good hands.

Javon Freeman-Liberty needs a contract

There’s an age-old qualifier at this time of year that “it’s only summer league.” But it’s hard to deny averaging 21.2 points on 49.3 percent shooting, including 46.2 percent from 3-point range.

Simply put, the Whitney Young and DePaul product can shoot. And whether it’s the Bulls’ final two-way contract or perhaps even a minimum NBA deal somewhere, Freeman-Liberty has given himself a shot by making plenty of them.

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