Dalen Terry did check some boxes throughout training camp.
The Bulls rookie admittedly started to get a feel of the speed of the NBA game, continued the work in progress that will be his three-point shot, and brought a promised intensity with that second unit.
That doesn’t mean that Terry will be a factor when the games start to count in a few weeks. Heck, as long as there are no further injuries, he might not even be in the rotation at the start of the regular season.
That’s the reality Terry has been dealing with, hoping to use the four preseason games to change that narrative.
“Do whatever I can do to stay on the floor,” Terry said Tuesday, when asked about a role. “If Coach [Billy Donovan] says he needs me to play defense and not even shoot the ball, that’s what he needs me to do. If he tells me I need to go out there and try to score the ball and do little things and all that, I’ll do that too. It’s just whatever they ask of me is what I’m gonna try to do.”
And that included eventually going down to the G-League if the organization feels he needs to get minutes down there.
It’s that mentality that might be the most impressive trait Terry has displayed so far. Even though he’s a first-round pick (18th overall), he’s not above whatever will be asked of him.
That hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“He’s a hell of a passer and like a Swiss army knife,” All-Star guard Zach LaVine said of what the rookie has shown. “He’s gonna have to go through every rookie up and down just like everybody. He brings a great attitude to the locker room, I think that’s very important.”
What Terry has in his favor? A precedent.
Last year, second-round pick Ayo Dosunmu was in a similar situation. He entered the regular season promised little in the minutes department, and early on had a two-minute stint and even a DNP [Did Not Play] Coach’s Decision.
Once the injuries hit, however, Dosunmu showed his value and never looked back. That hasn’t gone unnoticed by Terry.
“[Dosunmu] gives me tips every day,” Terry said. “He’s actually one of the guys on the team that talks to me the most, just talks me through stuff. I give credit to him, because I watched the Bulls last year and I saw what he did and how he went from playing nothing to a lot.”
Turning up the Heat
These three remaining preseason games are nice little pick-up exhibitions for the Bulls, but the veterans know the real test of what this group will start to look like doesn’t come until the regular-season tip-off on Oct. 19, in Miami.
Then it’s right into the fire of dealing with “Heat Culture.”
Few are more acquainted with that than Goran Dragic, who spent seven seasons playing with Miami and knows what awaits.
“It’s way different,” Dragic said of how the Heat handle training camp and every-day practices. “I mean they hold you accountable. You have to [have] body fat [measured] every week, have to come in and do pre-practice, practice, every practice is basically Hunger Games. You have to put the pads on, tape your ankles, and it’s basically like [regular-season] games. Iron sharpens iron, and that’s how they approach it.”
Asked where the Bulls training camp stacked up, Dragic did call it “intense.”
“From Day 1 through the last day of training camp, the guys worked hard,” Dragic said. “[Donovan] said the main focus was they needed to get better than last year, and I felt like everybody that came in had that mentality.”