The Chicago Bulls are riding high after winning the NBA Summer League because it's still summer.
Nobody can doubt the Chicago Bulls now!
They may have been given all they could handle by the Timberwolves, but Chicago emerged as champions of the Las Vegas Summer League after a tense 84-82 overtime win in Monday's Final. The victory capped off an undefeated Summer League slate—shit, even Jordan's 1995-96 team lost 10 games!
Until yesterday this had been a summer (nay, a year) of controversy for the Bulls' front office. The 2015-16 club missed the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons. Fans couldn't help but notice that this down year just so happened to coincide with the absence of beloved coach Tom Thibodeau, whose replacement, Fred Hoiberg, struggled to inspire confidence during his inaugural NBA campaign. GM Gar Forman decided to help jump-start Hoiberg's offense by dealing away one big-name guard who can't hit threes (Derrick Rose) and signing two more big-name guards who can't hit threes (Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade).
It makes sense, then, that the Summer League Final came down to guard play in the end. Point guard Jerian Grant won game MVP with 24 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, while backcourt mate Denzel Valentine sealed the deal with two of the most clutch shots you will ever see (in Summer League, that is):
The foundation for future greatness was laid Monday night, according to summer league head coach Pete Myers:
"Fred at the end of the year came to our coaches and talked about changing the culture," Myers said. "This is the start of it. People don't want to believe it, but this is what you do. Since we have been invested in these kids' development, trust comes easy when it comes time to coach these guys."
Will Grant and Valentine see much playing time next season behind Jimmy Butler and new acquisitions Wade, Rondo—who was considered such a pariah that even the Kings didn't seem to want him back...the freakin' Kings!—and recently-acquired backup/generic crappy former Sixers guard Isaiah Canaan? Probably not. But the Bulls have been invested in their development for at least the past two weeks, dammit.
Consider the culture changed, Chicago. Rondo may end up being the same obnoxious malcontent he's been for the past few seasons, Wade may just be looking to cash a check and stick it to Pat Riley, the team may employ, by far, the worst collection of three-point shooters at a time when shooting is at an absolute premium, and they may have further hampered the development of their young guards by signing a veteran nonentity like Canaan...but those are regular-season concerns. This is Vegas, baby! The place where everyone's a winner!