We all know that Patrick Williams was Arturas Karnisovas’s first draft pick as Executive Vice President of the Chicago Bulls. What some people forget is that Marko Simonovic was his second. Simonovic, a native of Montenegro, was chosen with the 44th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Now comes word that Simonovic, who has spent the majority of his first two years in the D League, is starting to look the part of an NBA player.
Chicago Bulls center Marko Simonović said that he's been in the gym everyday.
Marko: "I'm ready to work. I'm working everyday to be better and get some minutes in the NBA."
Simonović said that Nikola Vucevic is his mentor and called him his big brother.
— Daniel Greenberg (@ChiSportUpdates) July 5, 2022
In an article written by K.C. Johnson for NBC Sports Chicago, summer league assistant coach John Bryant had this to say:
“his hands have gotten better, along with his body. he probably hasn’t gotten the calls that he would want. but he’s able to finish through contact because of the body.”
Simonovic’s Career Thus Far
The 6-11 center finished his overseas career in 2021 when he played for Mega Soccerbet of the ABA Adriatic League. He averaged 17.9 PPG, 10.3 RPG, and shot the 3-ball at 35% percent that year.
Last year Simonovic played in 28 games for the Windy City Bulls in the NBA G League. There Simonovic would average 17 PPG, a hair under 10 RPB, and shot the 3-ball at 26.9%. The three-point percentage was down drastically compared to his overseas career.
How He Can Help The Bulls
The Bulls’ major areas of need coming into this offseason were interior defense, three-point shooting, and rim protection. Despite the additions of draft pick Dalen Terry and free-agent signees Andre Drummond and Goran Dragic, one can argue that the Bulls still need more help.
Standing at 6-11, Simonovic not only has size, but he also has athleticism in that he can run the floor. One can see Lonzo Ball finding him for plenty of opportunities to hit catch and release 3-pointers. The Bulls desperately need someone to stretch the floor, which Simonovic can provide. Then comes this interesting tidbit from K.C. Johnson.
Marko Simonovic said he’s up to 240 pounds. Weighed 215 when he arrived to NBA.
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) July 5, 2022
This added weight gain should help Simonovic immensely on the interior when he is battling for rebounds and going up for blocked shots.
Where He Fits On The Depth Chart
The Bulls have Patrick Williams and Nikola Vucevic as the starters at power forward and the center positions. Behind Patrick Williams, will be Derrick Jones Jr. who was just recently resigned. Backing up Vucevic will be newly signed Andre Drummond. Tony Bradley, who fell out of the rotation last year, is the only other viable front-court option. Simonovic, if he shows that he can consistently hit the three-ball and hold up inside defensively, should have an opportunity to see minutes this year. According to him, he is up for the challenge,
“every day i try to improve my body and put some muscles on. the last two months, i did it. and when i came back here, everybody said i’m looking better than i was before. just keep working.”
Karnisovas has a strong history of finding international talent. He did it as GM of the Nuggets when he found Jusuf Nurkic and Nikola Jokic. Let’s hope he found another one in Simonovic.