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Marko Simonovic Leads Bulls to Victory Over Mavs in Summer League Opener

The Bulls won their Summer League opener in comeback fashion thanks to a dominant performance from Marko Simonovic.

Marko Simonovic Chicago Bulls Summer League
Photo: NBA/Twitter

The Chicago Bulls opened their 2022 NBA Summer League tour in Las Vegas on Friday with a 100-99 comeback win over the Dallas Mavericks. The 16-point rally came on the broad shoulders of Marko Simonovic.

Not only did the team look like a complete unit, but a Bulls army of Patrick Williams, Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan, Coby White, Javonte Green, and Ayo Dosunmu were all courtside watching their teammates.

An obligatory disclaimer, this is only the Summer League. Stats and production will not necessarily translate to the NBA regular season, but it does set the tone for the younger/fringe players.

Simonovic Shines

Marko Simonovic is one of the key Bulls’ players to watch during 2022 NBA Summer League action. Last season, he dominated the G League averaging 17 PPG and 9.8 RPG. When Simonovic saw time in the NBA, he was outsized and looked flustered when he had the ball in his hands. This offseason, he made the leap from 215 lbs to 240 lbs.

On Friday afternoon, Simonovic filled the stat sheet and finished with 27 points. He converted on plenty of his attempts, whether they came with his back to the basket or via mid-range jumpers. The 22-year-old did endure periods of missing clean looks, but he recovered by going back to the basics and getting close to the rim.

On the glass, Simonovic was a monster. He hauled in 13 rebounds with six of them on the offensive end. His biggest plays came at the end of the game when he tied the score at 97 and then converted on an and-one layup to give the Bulls the lead in a clutch moment. Simonovic also displayed vocal leadership and played with a level of emotion that fans hadn’t seen before. It seems he has shed his timidness and settled in to basketball on this side of the Atlantic.

While Summer League ball isn’t as competitive as NBA gameplay, it still ranks a notch above G League action. Seeing Simonovic put in that much offseason work in one area and yielding immediate results is a great sign moving forward. If he plays at this level the entire time in Las Vegas, he could earn one of the last spots on the Bulls bench, but likely out of the rotation.

Dalen Terry’s Summer League Debut

While Dalen Terry did not headline the Chicago Bulls’ first Summer League game, he still put together a solid showing after officially signing his rookie contract. He was able to get his scoring touch going a bit and finished with nine points, but his passing ability stood out most. Finishing with six assists, Terry showcased his court vision by completing some challenging passes to teammates.

Like Simonovic, Terry was oozing with energy and vocal leadership all afternoon. The Arizona product blocked one shot and made life difficult for Dallas with his ball-hawking tendencies. One area in which Terry must improve is ball protection, as he finished with six turnovers. However, it was just his first game at the NBA level so some of those mistakes may be a result of trying to adjust to the increased tempo.

Overall, the Bulls have to enjoy seeing the younger members of the team building chemistry this early. Continuing to do so will only translate positively to the regular season.

Malcom Hill and Justin Lewis

Malcom Hill joined the Bulls on a two-way deal last season and Justin Lewis has already inked a two-way contract of his own for the 2022-23 campaign. Both players will likely split time between Windy City of the G League and the NBA squad this season.

Hill finished the Summer League opener with a strong stat line of 18 points and six rebounds. While the Bulls struggled from beyond the arc as a team, Hill was the lone bright spot, converting on both of his three-point attempts. Lewis chipped in eight points and five rebounds while matching the energy of Simonovic and Terry to help bolster the Bulls’ comeback.

What’s On Tap Next?

The Chicago Bulls continue 2022 NBA Summer League action against the New York Knicks on Sunday, July 10 at 4 PM CT. The game will air on ESPN2.

The Knicks recorded a 101-88 victory over the defending Las Vegas Summer League champion Golden State Warriors on Friday. Quinten Grimes led the way with 24 points, eight assists, and four rebounds, so Dalen Terry and co. must key in on him in order to improve to 2-0.

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