Friday, June 28, 2024

First Look At Matas Buzelis In A Chicago Bulls Uniform


In Wednesday night’s 2024 NBA Draft, the Chicago Bulls selected G-League Ignite wing Matas Buzelis with the 11th overall selection. Seen as one of the biggest steals of the first round, Arturas Karnisovas admittedly did not think the 19-year-old Lithuanian-American would fall to their selection but is ecstatic he did. Most mock drafts leading into the night had Buzelis as a unanimous top-eight pick, with many guessing he’d go top-five. In the very first 2024 NBA Draft mock before the 2023-2024 NBA season kicked off, some had him as the first overall pick. Today, Chicago’s summer league schedule went live; circle the calendar for when you can catch the Bulls’ newest 6’9″ forward in action.

Mid-July Slate

The Bulls will play at least five summer league games, four of which are pre-set opponents, times, and dates. The fifth and beyond will rely on how the first four go, which essentially puts them in a position to play for the Summer League Championship if they make it that far. They’ll play four games in seven days, including three in the first four days. K.C. Johnson reported the schedule earlier today.

Featuring their latest draft selection, Chicago will likely play several undrafted free agency pickups and a few returning players to continue developing against similarly youthful talent across the NBA. Henri Drell, Julian Phillips, and Adama Sanogo are other names that will likely be on the Bulls’ roster. Phillips and Sanogo saw a few games with significant minutes to finish out last season but are still raw to playing at the highest level.

Buzelis Will Rep Double Zero

Choosing one of the rarest numbers in franchise history, Buzelis will wear 00. Only two others have worn the same, Robert Parish and Mac McClung, most recently in 2022. The Bulls’ new wing wore 13 in the G-League, for the Rising Stars game during All-Star weekend, and the McDonald’s All-American game, but Torrey Craig currently occupies that number. He also wore number 0 in high school for the Expressions Elite amateur basketball program, but Coby White’s worn that for his entire Chicago tenure.

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If Chicago opts to go younger and move on from DeMar DeRozan or Zach LaVine, Buzelis could have an immediate impact at the professional level. The Bulls have also recently often deployed four guards around Nikola Vucevic or Andre Drummond, and their newcomer’s size will help alleviate the stranded big men with length and rim protection, two areas they have struggled with in recent years. Bringing back Patrick Williams would diminish his role as they’re similar positions even though the play styles differ drastically.

Chicago’s next objective this offseason is to acquire effective three-point snipers. Ranking among the league’s worst in quantity over the last three seasons and below-average percentages from deep from an efficiency standpoint, bringing in a career 31.0% three-point threat in Josh Giddey and a 27.3% three-point shooting rookie didn’t solve those problems. It’ll be interesting to watch how Karnisovas can surround his two new skilled playmakers to reinvent the Chicago Bulls’ offensive attack.

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