With deeper roster, player development could be challenge for Bulls

The Bulls head into the season with what appears to be a deeper roster.

It might come with some side effects. There's been talk about coach Billy Donovan possibly using a 10-man rotation, and at this point, the Bulls' two most recent draft picks – Dalen Terry and Julian Phillips – aren't in it.

Injuries will change things. How much remains to be seen. But developing younger players could be a challenge this season.

“I don't like necessarily projecting or passing judgment on what my happen when the season starts, because a lot of people wouldn't have felt like Ayo (Dosunmu) would have gotten a lot of playing time his rookie year,” Donovan said. “I think it's the responsibility of all of us with these guys to try to keep them ready and keep working with them and help them get better.”

The Bulls gave DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine, Nikola Vucevic and Alex Caruso the night off in Denver for Sunday's preseason tilt. That gave some of the role players a chance to play against front-level talent, since the Nuggets played their starters minus Michael Porter Jr. into the third quarter.

The Bulls' starting lineup included Dosunmu, Patrick Williams, Coby White, Torrey Craig and Andre Drummond. That group didn't outplay Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and the rest of the defending champs, but it was a chance for those players to assert themselves offensively.

White and Williams finished with 20 points each Sunday, while shooting the ball well. Dosunmu added 12 points and 7 assists. White, Williams and Jevon Carter combined to hit 9 of 17 3-pointers.

Phillips and Terry did some nice things when the Bulls beat Denver in double overtime on Thursday at the United Center. They were quieter Sunday in Colorado. Terry spent most of his rookie season on the bench last year, averaging 5.6 minutes in 38 games.

“Dalen's worked really hard since last season,” Donovan said. “He wants to play, as they all do. When the guy maybe doesn't have that avenue where he's in the rotation, I think the player needs to have a plan that's in front of him to get better. Then there needs to be a commitment by the player to try to get better.

“Whether that's in practice with us, whether that's Windy City games, all those things, I think there's got to be things development-wise that guys can get better from.”

The Bulls could try to get Terry and Phillips plenty of action out in Hoffman Estates with the G-League's Windy City Bulls, but even that can be easier said than done.

One spot on the 15-player roster is occupied by Lonzo Ball, who is not planning to play this season. The Bulls seem likely to keep Carlik Jones and Terry Taylor on the final roster with nonguaranteed contracts. Jones, Taylor, Terry, Phillips and the three players on two-way contracts would make a nice G-League lineup. But that would leave just 10 players for the NBA Bulls, and that's if everyone's healthy.

There are bound to be times when the Bulls might like to give Terry and Phillips time with Windy City, but will need to keep them around as extra reserves on the NBA roster.

The Bulls have two more preseason home games this week, against Toronto on Tuesday and Minnesota on Thursday.

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