Bulls Summer League recap: Wendell Carter Jr. impresses in Las Vegas
Bulls Summer League recap: Wendell Carter Jr. impresses in Las Vegas
The Chicago Bulls went 2-3 in the 2018 NBA Las Vegas Summer League, but No. 7 pick Wendell Carter Jr. was one of the most impressive rookies on display.
The Chicago Bulls were eliminated from tournament play in the 2018 NBA Las Vegas Summer League with a 72-66 loss to the Detroit Pistons on Saturday, capping off a 2-3 record. Bulls rookie Wendell Carter Jr. struggled offensively in that game with just six points on 1-of-8 shooting, but he snared 16 rebounds and blocked two shots. While Carter had an off game against the Pistons, it doesn't diminish how impressive he was throughout play in Vegas. The 19-year-old was as good as any of the other rookie bigs in attendance, and these early returns indicate the Bulls have struck gold with the No. 7 pick for the second year in a row. All Summer League caveats must apply, but the Bulls should be thrilled with what they saw and how Carter and Lauri Markkanen project together for the future. Carter was one of two Bulls first-round picks to play in Vegas. The other was Chandler Hutchison, the No. 22 pick out of Boise State. Hutchison wasn't nearly as good as Carter, though he had his moments and showed off skills that could make him a useful role player in Chicago. Let's take a closer look at how Carter and Hutchison performed, as well an update on the two-way players from last year, Antonio Blakeney and Ryan Arcidiacono. ### Wendell Carter Jr. Carter averaged 14.6 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.6 blocks in 28.8 minutes per game. He shot 55.1 percent overall and went 3-of-7 on 3-pointers. Carter's 14.6 points per game were a tick more than No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton's 14.5 points per game, and the Bulls big man currently ranks ninth in blocks and 11th in rebounds for the summer. Carter showed a comfort level playing both inside and out on offense. He displayed nice touch around the basket and an ability to finish with both hands. This nifty move and finish with the left was especially impressive: <a href="https://twitter.com/_MarcusD2_/status/1017200464130183168" class="embedly-card" data-card-width="100%" data-card-controls="1">Embedded content: https://twitter.com/_MarcusD2_/status/1017200464130183168</a> Carter is a smart, poised player who moves well without the ball, allowing him to find creases in the defense: <a href="https://twitter.com/jackfrank_jjf/status/1017266336790208518" class="embedly-card" data-card-width="100%" data-card-controls="1">Embedded content: https://twitter.com/jackfrank_jjf/status/1017266336790208518</a> Carter didn't take many 3-pointers, but that was a function of how the Bulls were using him on offense by consistently having him short roll rather than pick-and-pop. Carter is clearly capable of knocking down shots from the NBA 3-point line, though, and he also showed off a nice stroke on a handful of mid-range jumpers. Carter was arguably even more impressive defensively. He has good defensive instincts and showed timely anticipation on weak-side help. He provided monstrous rim protection and had several highlight-reel blocks: <a href="https://twitter.com/chicagobulls/status/1015778299107143680" class="embedly-card" data-card-width="100%" data-card-controls="1">Embedded content: https://twitter.com/chicagobulls/status/1015778299107143680</a> Perhaps most important was Carter's work on switches. One of the big concerns about him coming into the draft was a supposed lack of mobility and lateral quickness. In Vegas, the Bulls weren't hesitant to have him switch onto guards, and he did an admirable job sticking them and moving well on the perimeter after losing weight since his time at Duke. There were some poor moments, but there were also plays like this stop against Trae Young: <a href="https://twitter.com/TomWestNBA/status/1017111341042192384" class="embedly-card" data-card-width="100%" data-card-controls="1">Embedded content: https://twitter.com/TomWestNBA/status/1017111341042192384</a> Carter's defensive presence is going to be important on a Bulls team that has some porous defenders in key positions. Zach LaVine and Jabari Parker could be ugly on the defensive end, and Markkanen isn't exactly a defensive ace. It's not fair to expect Carter to effectively cover for these guys as a rookie, but in time the Bulls hope he'll be a defensive anchor. ### Chandler Hutchison The 22-year-old Hutchison was more of a mixed bag. He averaged 11.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.6 assists in 32.4 minutes per game, but he shot just 39.5 percent from the field and struggled finishing at the bucket. He shot 9-of-27 on 2-pointers, with most of those attempts coming around the rim. Hutchison's aggressiveness driving to the basket should be commended, and he did a nice job drawing fouls in a few of the games, but his slight frame will hinder his ability to finish in traffic, and too often he drove into the lane without much of a plan. He had some ugly shot attempts and some awful turnovers. I have my doubts about his ability to create off the dribble against legitimate NBA defenders, especially if he doesn't have much of a pull-up game. On a more positive note, Hutchison shot 8-of-16 from 3-land and looks like he could be a catch-and-shoot threat. His release is a tad slow and could be a hindrance against athletic, lengthy defenders, but it would be a plus if he can simply knock down open triples at a high rate. He improved his 3-point shooting in college after struggling to start his career, and his outside shooting in Vegas provides reason for optimism. Hutchison also showed off his versatility with playmaking chops and a willingness to attack the glass. He executed nice dishes in pick-and-roll situations and completed a few impressive cross-court whip passes to open 3-point shooters: <a href="https://twitter.com/jackfrank_jjf/status/1016819649705414656" class="embedly-card" data-card-width="100%" data-card-controls="1">Embedded content: https://twitter.com/jackfrank_jjf/status/1016819649705414656</a> Defensively, Hutchison was solid though not that notable. He recorded only 0.8 steals and 0.2 blocks per game, so there wasn't much playmaking on that end, but overall he was fine. Given the Bulls' current lack of defenders on the wing, it would be helpful if Hutchison and his 7-foot wingspan can play a stopper role in the future. Adding weight to his 197-pound frame should be a priority to help in this area. ### Antonio Blakeney and Ryan Arcidiacono Blakeney led the Bulls in scoring at 21.0 points per game, but he shot just 40.0 percent and jacked up 90 shots over the five games. The 21-year-old has his moments where he can score effectively, whether it's on tough jumpers or explosive drives to the basket, but he's a chucker who sometimes hijacks the offense. He handed out only 2.8 assists per game despite being a primary ballhandler. Blakeney's style and shot selection may keep him from becoming an efficient scorer in the NBA, but there's value in microwave scoring and shot creation off the bench. He wouldn't be a bad player to have at the end of the roster to develop and occasionally use as a jolt if the offense is scuffling. He's set to still be on a two-way contract in 2018-19, which means his time would be split between the Bulls and the G-League, but perhaps the Bulls convert that to a standard NBA deal. Arcidiacono averaged 7.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.0 assists in his 31.0 minutes per game. The point guard is limited athletically and can't do much inside the arc, but he's a solid 3-point shooter and a guy who plays his heart out at all times. His grittiness is admirable, and while his cap hold was just renounced to make room for Jabari Parker, he could still be brought back on another two-way deal.2018-07-16T15:56:34.395Z2018-07-16T11:57-04:00