Could Chicago Bulls Summer League player Carlik Jones make the roster?

Could Carlik Jones make the Chicago Bulls roster?

One of the most interesting prospects on the Chicago Bulls’ summer league team with a legitimate chance of making the NBA roster is guard Carlik Jones.

Standing at an even six feet tall, Jones spent 2021 playing for the Texas Legends of the G-League after he was not selected in last year’s NBA Draft; during his time in the Lonestar State, he averaged 21.1 points (tied for 16th), 8.2 assists (third), and 4.6 rebounds in 35.9 minutes of action per night. He also shot a respectable 46.3% from the field, although he struggled beyond the arc, where he shot 31.6%. 

In addition, the Bulls’ newest prospect stole headlines with several highlight plays, none more exciting than this posterizing slam.

In Chicago’s lone summer league game thus far, a 100-99 win over the Dallas Mavericks, Jones put up a respectable six points, nine assists, and four rebounds in 27 minutes of action, also posting a game-high +18 in +/-.

An ascending talent

Despite his impressive numbers, Jones’ player profile is where the intrigue comes from, as he was rather unheralded in high school and at college but now seems ready to head to the league as a late bloomer.

Jones committed to Radford University as an unranked high school prospect, where he later made two first-team All-Big-South teams and won the 2020 Big South Player of the Year award. Shortly thereafter, he transferred to the University of Louisville, where he averaged 16.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 4.5 assists in his lone season. 

Clearly, he has made improvements to his passing game, as he was one of the most influential floor generals in the G-League last season. The Bulls’ squad already has enough pass-first guys with Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso, and with respect to the electric Ayo Dosunmu, they do not have a player that possesses his combination of slashing ability and playmaking. Dosunmu would be the closest facsimile, but his physical tools allow him to be more of a score-first guy.

A couple of failed stints for Carlik Jones

As much praise and adulation as Carlik Jones has received thus far, he has already been granted opportunities in the form of 10-day contracts with two big-league teams— the Denver Nuggets and Mavericks— and neither stuck. It is possible that a below-the-rim, six-foot player with little experience playing against top collegiate teams either needs a longer adjustment period or is simply unready to play in the NBA.

Following his rate of progression, however, it would not be unwise for the Bulls to make him a two-way player, if not finding a spot for him on the regular roster, depending on how he performs in the Summer League. His presence on the roster would likely not alter the postseason rotation but would allow head coach Billy Donovan to spell a frequently-injured Ball or one of the other backup guards in different situations.

It might be a long shot, but it is worth keeping tabs on Jones, one from the crop of underappreciated four-year college players with legitimate NBA potential.

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