If the Bulls want to make the playoffs next season they need to nail the No. 4 pick in the draft. Here’s how Chicago should construct their big board.
The hiring of Billy Donovan should usher in a healthy new era of Bulls basketball. Of course, Chicago needs to upgrade their roster talent if they really want to be Eastern Conference playoff contenders next season. Drafting a potential star at No. 4 could catapult the Bulls up the conference standings.
Chicago heads into the draft in a very interesting position. They arguably don’t have a single player on the current roster who is good enough to stop the franchise from selecting a player at a particular position. That doesn’t mean the roster is bereft of talent. Zach LaVine is a quality scorer whose efficiency appears to be on the rise. Both Wendell Carter and Lauri Markanen have a chance to become quality frontcourt starters in the very near future.
In the end, Carter is the only building block the Bulls should contemplate protecting. LaVine’s horrible defense and lack of playmaking ability make him an overrated player due to his scoring numbers. Markkanen has the ability to be an elite shooter, but his shot has waxed and waned as a professional. There’s no certainty that he’s going to be anything more than an average rotation piece moving forward.
As a result, the Bulls should head into this draft with the plan of taking the best non-center available. Fortunately for Chicago, that should line up very well with their pick at No. 4. Keep a close eye on these five prospects to help Donovan transition the Bulls to a brighter future
Who should the Chicago Bulls be focused on in the NBA Draft?
1. LaMelo Ball, Guard, Illawara Hawks, Big Board Rank: 1
More than anything, the Bulls need to find a potential superstar in this draft. No one has a higher ceiling as a prospect than Ball. He’s admittedly a questionable fit with LaVine in the backcourt, but that shouldn’t stop Chicago’s front office from taking a big swing on raw talent.
Ball might not help the Bulls move up the standings as a rookie, but his potential to be an elite playmaker with the ball in his hands would drastically raise the team’s ceiling moving forward. Ball should go off the board before the Bulls go on the clock, but there are rumors that he’s slipping. If he’s available at No. 4, Chicago should sprint to the podium (virtually) to select him.
2. Anthony Edwards, Guard, Georgia, Big Board Rank: 4
Edwards is a potentially disastrous fit in the same backcourt with LaVine. Again, that shouldn’t stop the Bulls from pulling the trigger on him. Edwards’ athleticism is off the charts and he showed an ability to be an elite individual scorer during his collegiate days at Georgia. The juice he can provide the Chicago offense should push him up their draft board.
The concerns about Edwards center around his lack of motor. His effort did wax and wane in college. Donovan is an ideal coach to help him learn how to lock in as a professional. Edwards isn’t a readymade star, but he’s going to flash greatness as a rookie.
The biggest underreported aspect of Edwards game is the sheer force he can play with on offense. He’s got a chance to develop into one of the best power guards in the league. Add that to his 3-point shooting and it’s easy to see how he can be an elite offensive player.
3. Isaac Okoro, Wing, Auburn, Big Board Rank: 10
Okoro is the first player on this board who can fit in seamlessly with the current Bulls roster. The former Auburn standout could take Otto Porter’s starting job at the 3 right away. His defensive prowess might help cover up a lot of LaVine’s deficiencies on that end of the floor.
The question with Okoro is whether or not he can ever become an offensive star. That weakness to his game limits his ceiling. He doesn’t have the talent to blossom into a superstar. He can, however, become an above-average starter a position of massive importance in the NBA. That’s why he merits strong consideration from the Bulls at No. 4.
4. Killian Hayes, Guard, Ulm, Big Board Rank: 3
Listing Hayes at this spot is slightly unorthodox. Some scouts don’t see him as a significantly better prospect than current Bulls player Coby White. That’s a mistake. White’s ceiling is as a high-level scoring guard that comes off the bench for a good team. Hayes has a chance to blossom into an above-average starter if things break right.
Hayes has excellent size and feel for the point guard position. Questions about his game center around whether or not his perimeter shooting will ever come around. If it does, it makes the rest of his skills really click on the floor. Hayes doesn’t have superstar upside, but his playmaking ability should make him an intriguing target for the Bulls front office.
5. Deni Avdija, Big, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Big Board Rank: 8
It’s very possible that the Bulls have grown weary of waiting for Markanen to seize the starting power forward spot. Selecting Avdija at No. 4 would send a clear signal of a changing guard at the position.
Avdija approaches the game much differently than Markkanen. He’s a tough, physical player who wants to mix it up on the interior. The intriguing aspect of Avdija’s game is that he also has the foot speed to guard smaller players out on the perimeter. He’s never going to stop speedy point guards in isolation, but he should be able to hold his own against powerful wings at the next level.
Offensively, he already has the ability to help the Bulls offense as a playmaker. Like many other prospects in this year’s class, his ceiling will be determined by the evolution of his jump shot. His free-throw percentage of 56 percent for Maccabi is a major red flag for teams. The Bulls might be able to overlook that issue at No. 4 if guys like Ball and Edwards are off the board.