The Chicago Bulls signed 10-team journeyman, Garrett Temple, to a one year,$4.7million this off-season. The versatile veteran was the Bulls’ lone free-agent signing of the offseason.
Garrett Temple’s path to the Chicago Bulls
Prior to entering the NBA, Temple spent the full 4 years at LSU. Temple then, as expected, went undrafted in the 2009 NBA Draft. On the Coaching U Podcast with Coach Brendan Suhr, Episode 154, Garrett Temple states,
“I didn’t expect to get drafted, I was always an under the radar guy.”
Despite not hearing his name called by the commissioner on draft night, Temple was undeterred. Between 2009 and 2014, Temple endured a long, winding road to NBA relevancy. Bouncing between five NBA teams – Houston Rockets, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, Milwaukee Bucks and Charlotte Hornets, Temple’s path was a testament to his passion for the game.
After a stint in a professional league in Italy, the then 26-year-old swingman eventually established himself in the NBA with the Washington Wizards. After four seasons with the Wizards, Temple finally earned meaningful minutes and a consistent role.
The former LSU Tiger earned his pay-day with the Sacramento Kings, a 3-year, $24 million deal. He saw action with the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers during that contract. Temple’s latest stop prior to the Bulls, saw him wind up on his 9th team in 10 years in the NBA, the Brooklyn Nets.
In Brooklyn, the veteran averaged a career-high 10.3 ppg, albeit on poor shooting efficiency, shooting 37.8 percent from the field and a 48.6 eFG percentage.
The Veteran Leader.
When he took over, new Chicago Bulls lead executive Arturas Karnisovas expressed adding a veteran presence and more leadership. Garrett Temple fits that need while also embracing the role. Talking about himself as a leader and teammate to Brooklyn Nets writer Tom Dowd, the former LSU star said,
“Just being professional. I can take things that I learned when I was younger, moving from team to team, and use them now in terms of learning how to adapt. Different coaching styles. Different players. Learning how to read and react to people. I think I have decent leadership qualities so my ability to know what buttons to press for different teammates, it’s helped me in this phase of my career.”
As a testament to the positive leadership qualities Temple possesses, he’s also one of several NBPA’s vice presidents. Temple garnered the third most votes in a recent 2020-21 NBA general manager survey titled “Which active player will make the best head coach someday?”
Extremely well-respected around the league as a leader on and off the court, the Bachelor of Business Administration honouree was even recruited by Kyrie Irving to join him with the Brooklyn Nets as Irving was so impressed by his leadership.
Whether Chicago Bulls veteran forward Thaddeus Young is with the Bulls for the length of his contract or not is a question for another day. Either way, an additional veteran presence is always helpful for the young Bulls core. Patrick Williams, the Bulls rookie out of Florida State, will be one of many to be able to use Temple as a soundboard for his rookie curiosity, particularly as their games draw several similarities. Both players are two-way plays that have showcased ball-handling abilities.
A jack-of-all-trades that fills several needs.
Temple’s best skill on the offensive end is his versatility. Throughout his career, Temple has been plugged into several different roles. Last season with the Brooklyn Nets, with Irving sidelined, Temple’s minutes were primarily at the backup PG spot to Spencer Dinwiddie. The Bulls newcomer has also demonstrated the ability to occupy both the wing spots. He’s spent 52 percent of his career minutes as a shooting guard and 29 percent as a small forward.
The Nets trusting Temple to run the second unit offense shows the impressive amount of trust coaches can quickly find in him. Temple may not exhibit elite court vision, but he can make the smart plays and right reads with the ball.
One indisputable need for the Chicago Bulls has been their need for a playmaker. Although he has shown playmaking potential, Chicago Bulls guard Coby White is more of a scoring guard, and Tomas Satoransky hasn’t earned the league’s respect with his pull-up 3-point shot, so defenders can go under screens to close the passing lanes.
Temple isn’t a natural lead guard or long-term fix, though, he brings veteran experience and smart decision. His addition gives Chicago another playmaker that can run the offense in short stints.
Temple’s presence will help the Chicago Bulls wing issues
Another offensive skill the new Chicago Bulls guard possesses is his shooting ability. In the 5 years prior to last season, Temple shot 36.2 percent from deep on 3.1 attempts per game.
Temple is not a great pull-up 3-point shooter but can be effective as a catch-and-shoot artist. He’s never shot below 35 percent from catch and shoot situations in the last 6 years. Playing without the ball, he will provide good spacing on the floor.
Chicago finished 22nd last season in 3-point percentage, so Temple is a welcome addition for Karnisovas and the rest of the Bulls’ new brain trust.
Defensively, Temple is a respected contributor. Last season, in his expanded role with Brooklyn, the Nets matched Temple regularly against some of the league’s best scorers. Last year 11 players, Russel Westbrook, Bradley Beal, James Harden, Devin Booker, and Chicago’s very own, Zach LaVine to name a few, had at least 9 shots while being guarded by Temple and none of them eclipsed 50 percent shooting from the floor.
Trae Young was by far the most popular match up with 29 field goal attempts. However, Young was only able to shoot 44.8 percent, including a measly 23.1 percent from 3-point range. The other 5 players were Terry Rozier, Derrick Rose, Frank Ntilikina, Josh Richardson, and Devonte Graham.
Now 34 years old, Temple’s athleticism is likely not a strength. Defensively he sometimes struggles to be a point of attack defender. However, Temple can rely on his basketball intelligence to make up for lost steps.
With the loss of guards Kris Dunn and Shaquille Harrison over the summer to free agency, perimeter defense was a need for the Chicago Bulls. He’s not as disruptive defensively as these two but Temple’s basketball IQ allows him to be effective defensively. Standing at 6’5”, with a 6’9” wingspan, the Bulls can trust Temple to match up with guards and wings.
He can also defend undersized, perimeter-based power forwards.
Serves several purposes
Garrett Temple checked several key boxes for the Bulls front office this past off-season. His leadership and high basketball IQ should allow him to be a mentor for the talented but young core.
Starting off a new chapter in Chicago, Temple is a respected player for a franchise building a better image. We’ll see what role the Bulls have planned for Temple, but he will certainly be a positive force in Chicago.