Torrey Craig

Torrey Craig vows to bring toughness to Bulls

Veteran forward is coming off career-best season with Phoenix

Suns forward Torrey Craig, wearing a white jersey and shorts with orange lettering and trim, drives to the basket against the Lakers
Craig shot a career-high 39.5 percent from 3-point range with Phoenix last season.

Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

All Torrey Craig needed was a chance.

Undrafted out of University of South Carolina Upstate in 2014, Craig spent three seasons playing in Australia before the Denver Nuggets invited him to their summer league team.

“That’s all I needed to get my foot in the door,” Craig said on his appearance on the Bulls Talk Podcast from last weekend’s Bulls Fest outside the United Center. “Ever since, I’ve just been making a name for myself and trying to impact winning on every team I’ve been on. And I’ve been fortunate to be able to do that.”

Artūras Karnišovas saw it first-hand. He worked for the Nuggets when Craig turned that summer league opportunity into three seasons of impactful rotational minutes.

That’s why what Craig said about Karnisovas targeting him along with Jevon Carter in free agency didn’t surprise.

“Actually, the last couple free agencies, me and AK have been talking. And we just couldn’t get it done,” Craig said. “We kind of knew what kind of pieces he wanted and what (Carter and I) could bring and what kind of team we had the potential to be, especially with the guys who are already here. We want to be one of those tough, hard-nosed, defensive-minded, competitive teams all year round.”

Craig signed with the Bulls following the best of his six NBA seasons. He started 60 of his 79 games for a powerhouse Phoenix Suns team, shooting a career-high 39.5 percent from 3-point range while bringing the defensive mindset that has carved out his solid reputation throughout the league.

Craig averaged a career-high 24.7 minutes, posting averages of 7.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 0.6 steals as he served as one of those glue guys among star players like Kevin Durant and Devin Booker.

The Bulls expect him to do the same playing alongside DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine.

“I was telling Coach (Billy Donovan) one day, just watching the games and seeing how much talent they had and some of the games they would lose and seeing how I could contribute and bring a little bit more toughness, a little bit more edge, a little bit more competitiveness to some of those games to be more consistent,” Craig said. “That definitely played a factor in my decision to come here.”

Craig admitted he arrives flush with confidence, particularly after playing so well in the Suns’ first-round playoff victory over the Los Angeles Clippers. He said the Bulls “definitely” have playoff potential.

“Winning and playing at a high level it definitely translates. I’m going to ride that confidence here,” Craig said. “Everybody knows two of the most talented scorers on the team with LaVine and DeRozan. Once those guys get it going, it’s pretty much a wrap. As a defender, I can give those guys tips and advice on what teams want to do and how they want to guard them and the insight I had playing against those guys to give them any edge they need.”

Craig said he’s “always been an underdog.” He’s from a small town. He went to a small high school and small college.

That underdog mentality will continue to fuel this latest big opportunity with the Bulls.

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