Chicago Bulls' budding center Marko Simonovic had a solid NBA Summer League showing. He averaged 15.6 PPG, 8.8 RPG, and 2 APG during the five-game slate That performance was good enough to earn a spot on the 2022 All-Summer Second Team.
Simonovic's strong showing in Vegas represents a step in the right direction as he strives to prove he belongs on an NBA roster.
Last season, he was just getting his feet wet as he adjusted to the North American style of basketball. The 2020 second-round pick dominated the G-League with 17.0 PPG and 8.8 RPG. But when he saw time at the NBA level, he struggled with opponents' size and the speed of play.
To combat those issues, Simonovic added 25 pounds to his 6-foot-11 frame, and he now weighs in at 240 lbs. Fans were hoping to see his weight room work translate over to the court.
In Summer League play, Simonovic was a huge factor on the glass at both ends of the floor and played with a high motor down low. He converted on his mid-range attempts at a 50.8% clip when he found his spots on the floor. Defensively, he blocked shots and tipped passes.
However, it wasn't all roses for Simonovic. One area of his game that needs improvement is three-point shooting (9.1%). He won't need to shoot lights out from downtown, but the Bulls' offense requires at least a competitive threat. Relying on Nikola Vucevic as a mentor will help Simonovic greatly in this area.
Furthermore, Simonovic found himself in turnover funks at times during Summer League action. He will need to improve most when it comes to decision-making if he wants to become a rotational player in the NBA.
Where To Place Marko Simonovic
It will be intriguing to see how Billy Donovan elects to deploy Marko Simonovic this season. Regardless, he will not be in the rotation. Andre Drummond and Nikola Vucevic will get all the minutes at the center position. That duo simply poses much more of a physical threat than Simonovic. But will garbage time be the best spot for Simonovic's development?
The G League certainly offers Simonovic a significantly greater minutes load, but he has already proven his ability to dominate there offensively. Plus, the game speed may not be challenging enough for him. Even NBA practice may be more helpful.
That said, the Chicago Bulls should still send Simonovic to the G League to begin the season. Once he gets in a rhythm and reasserts his dominant ways there through the first month, he should get the call to the NBA level so he can learn from Vucevic and Drummond. There are also rumors indicating the Bulls will cut Tony Bradley after the sixth game of the season, which would open up the third center spot for Simonovic.
Growth will be the key this season when it comes to evaluating whether or not Marko Simonovic can pan out at the highest level.