While it is only summer league basketball, Chicago Bulls forward Tony Snell has been lighting it up and even though things will be different when the real NBA season starts, Snell’s summer league performance is not a fluke — he can play.
Snell, a first-round pick by the Bulls in the 2013 NBA Draft, had a limited impact in his first season, but as Bulls fans know, head coach Tom Thibodeau does not like playing rookies. Despite that philosophy, Snell still managed to earn 16 minutes a game thanks to injuries, but even in that time he did not impress.
Snell has definitely worked on his game in the offseason and his performance in the Las Vegas Summer League proves it. It also shows the potential he has to be a valuable role player on a team contending for an NBA title.
In four summer league games, the former New Mexico standout has been the Bulls’ best player, averaging 20 PPG on 47 percent shooting from the field and an incredible 50 percent from beyond the arc. He also averaged 4.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game.
As a rookie, Snell did not put his best foot forward and struggled to score, averaging just 4.5 PPG on a porous 38 percent shooting. He also connected on just 32 percent of his three-point attempts. However, Jimmy Butler was also unimpressive during his rookie season but eventually developed into a quality starter and one of the Bulls’ most important assets two years later.
Snell is similar to Butler in that he is an athletic wing and a good defender but it is often forgotten that Chicago drafted him not only because of defensive prowess but also because of his shooting ability, particularly when spotting up.
At New Mexico, Snell shot 38 percent from beyond the arc on 434 attempts but where he caught the eye of the Bulls’ front office was his 40 percent clip as a spot up shooter, which is a skill that meshes perfectly with Derrick Rose and newly acquired Pau Gasol.
Snell is dominating in the summer league now but with Rose and Gasol on the floor this season, the former first-rounder will finally be able to realize his potential and become a valued member of the rotation next season.