Snell sporting a new look prior to summer league

As the Bulls prepare for the 2014 Samsung NBA Summer League with a four-day minicamp this week, there’s one familiar face on the roster in Tony Snell.

Snell, however, is sporting a different look these days with a shorter haircut and having added 10 pounds to his frame this offseason.

A 6-7 guard, Snell averaged 4.5 points, 1.6 rebounds and 0.9 assists in 77 games as a rookie last season. He also participated in last year’s summer league in Las Vegas, when he posted 11.8 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists in five games.

“It’s been good so far,” Snell said following Tuesday morning’s session at the Berto Center. “We’re getting the rookies familiar with the plays and teaching them about Chicago Bulls defense. We’re trying to get our flow going, taking advantage of our strengths and working on our chemistry as we learn to play together.”

Bulls assistant Adrian Griffin is serving as head coach for the summer league team with a staff of Andy Greer, Coby Karl, Ed Pinckney and Mike Wilhelm.

“The encouraging thing is that from practice to practice, we’re getting better,” said Griffin. ���We were fortunate this year because a lot of the players came in earlier. So we were able to put a lot of the groundwork in and when our first practice came, we hit the ground running. We’ve got a smart bunch of guys who have been able to pick up on our offensive and defensive philosophies. We’ll keep looking to improve and be ready for the next practice.”

Chicago will play three preliminary games (July 12 versus the L.A. Clippers, July 13 versus Denver and July 15 versus Minnesota) before a tournament-style bracket is established which will determine the NBA Summer League 2014 champion on July 21. The Bulls are guaranteed to play at least five games.

For Snell, it is another opportunity to work on coming off pick-and-rolls, rebounding and defense, all of which he’s focused on this summer. His extra weight certainly won’t hurt his efforts.

“I’ve been in the weight room a lot and I’m eating right,” said Snell.

Griffin acknowledged that bulking up is among Snell’s priorities this summer.

“The NBA is a very physical game and in an 82-game season, you’ve got to have a certain type of physicality,” said Griffin. “I think Tony has done a good job over the last year of staying consistent in the weight room and it’s paying off for him.”

Summer league, as well as the private sessions this week, also gives the Bulls their first in-depth look at draft picks Doug McDermott and Cameron Bairstow.

McDermott, last year’s consensus player of the year in college, has not taken long to step right in and show the Bulls what he can do on the floor, according to Snell.

“Doug is looking really good,” said Snell. “He’s catching on with the offense and getting to the right spots. He helps with our spacing. When we have good shooters out there, it’s going to be hard for defenders to try and decide what to do.”

As for Bairstow, he and Snell played together three years at the University of New Mexico, as well as another member of Chicago’s summer league roster, 6-4 guard Kendall Williams. Snell is excited to be reunited with both and he believes that because of their existing relationship, chemistry will be easier to come by when they’re on the court together.

“He’s a great player,” said Snell of Bairstow. “You can’t give him much space because he’s great from mid-range and he’s also really good in the post. You’ve got to block him out because he’s a very good rebounder. I can’t wait to see how he does in summer league.”

Whether it is Snell or any of the other young players on the roster, Griffin said that the most important thing to see from his players in the next few weeks is improvement.

“We just want to see improvement from week to week and month to month,” said Griffin. “This is another opportunity not only for us to see where Tony is but for Tony to understand where he is as a player and how much growth he needs to continue to show. That’s what being part of the NBA is all about. He’s been working his butt off for the last couple months. So I’m pulling for him to have a good showing in Vegas. But it starts with a good camp right now.”