Rookie Snell eating up his opportunity

DEERFIELD, Ill. -- There is a good chance that at this very moment, Chicago Bulls rookie Tony Snell is eating a sandwich or a cheeseburger, or maybe even a pizza, before washing it all down with a protein shake.

With a long wingspan, the Bulls are confident that Snell will be able to play forward at a relatively undersized 6-foot-7. What they aren’t sure about is his weight, which is generously listed at 200 pounds.

So this summer, Snell’s job was two-fold: Work out at the Bulls practice facility as often as possible and consume calories at an even greater pace than that.

“They just told me to eat more; eat more than I did before,” Snell said after practice Thursday.

Outside of attending one Bears game, Snell’s time since the end of the NBA summer league has been spent working on his physique.

“I stayed here in the weight room,” Snell said. “I stayed here in the weight room trying to get stronger and bigger and I had some individual coaches working me out, trying to teach me some moves and plays. I just stayed in the weight room and got bigger.”

The cruel part about adding extra pounds is that now Snell is expected to move quicker than ever before.

“It’s way faster man; it’s fast paced,” he said about his first few days in camp. “I’m hanging on. The vets, they’re encouraging me to keep going so it’s good.”

The encouragement will probably have to continue later, when Snell realizes that coach Tom Thibodeau is reluctant to rely on young players, especially rookies.

“I’m just going to keep working hard and see where it takes me,” Snell said.

Helping him during his adjustment period has been the chance to watch the plethora of tall shooters wearing a Bulls uniform this year. From Luol Deng to Jimmy Butler to newcomer Mike Dunleavy, the Bulls are loaded with them.

“Every time I sit on the sideline I watch how they play and how they play defense with each other and how they shoot the ball,” Snell said.

Snell might lack the weight the Bulls are looking for and is facing the prospect of little to no playing time for long stretches, but he welcomes all challenges, just like he does on the court. Snell was asked if there was anything he can hang his hat on in the early days of camp.

“Just being able to not back down on anybody,” he said. “If there is a mismatch I’m willing to fight or to post or anything. I’m just fighting on.”