Ahead Of The Draft

I’ve been working on my Bulls free agent guide to wings the last couple weeks (maybe it’ll come out before free agency begins) and largely ignoring the NBA Draft, but I thought I better post something just ahead of it, cuz, like, it’s the draft and stuff. Like I said, I’ve ignored draft coverage this year, mostly because the Bulls don’t have a 1st round pick (yet), but also because the Bulls are no longer in a position where the draft is the most important event of the offseason. The Bulls are looking for players that can immediately help them get into the playoffs and make a splash. Free agency is where you find those experienced professionals that know how to make a positive impact on a team. The draft is where you find talent for the future.

Still, I do fully expect the Round Table to be active on draft night. Whether that’s trading back into the first round, or getting involved in some kind of three team deal that nets them a helpful vet, I think the Bulls are going to walk away with more than just the 38th overall pick on Thursday night. I fully admit, I have no basis for this thought, just that little tickle of anticipation deep in my gut.

Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley have been aggressive executives. They enjoy taking risks. Whether it’s spending money on a head coach, gambling on a college bench player with the #4 pick in the draft, or trading two future 1st round draft picks and the young, defensive anchor of the team for an aging, but offensively productive center, this front office has never shied away from the aggressive path. They want to win, and they will do nearly anything to achieve that goal.

Their aggressiveness leads me to believe they won’t sit quietly on draft night. While the talent on the Bulls roster is thin, they still have players with desirable skill sets that could be very helpful to other teams. Thaddeus Young, Tomas Satoransky, Coby White, and Troy Brown Jr, are the obvious names that could be moved in a draft night trade. Less obvious, but I believe still in the realm of possibility, are Nikola Vucevic, Patrick Williams, and Zach LaVine. These three players are the most “valuable assets” on the team. Vucevic and LaVine are All-Stars that could net the Bulls a hefty amount of “assets” if the were traded. Likewise, Williams showed enough of his potential last season, that he could bring back a solid veteran or two in a trade to a rebuilding team.

I truly doubt we’ll see the Round Table ever trade a star for draft picks, they seem firmly entrenched as “buyers”, that means LaVine and Vucevic are probably staying put, at least on Thursday night. But what if they move one of the more obvious names, like Sato or Thad? Who would AK and Eversley target in the first round?

The Bulls are still so talent starved that they would have to take the “best player available,” whoever they deem that to be. I hope that player is not a point guard. Obviously, the Bulls need point guard help, but if the goal is to make the playoffs next season (and as long as LaVine and Vucevic are on the roster together, it is), then they can’t afford to rely on a rookie point guard to lead the team. The NBA learning curve for the average college point guard is steep, it can take up to 4 seasons before a point guard really starts to make a positive impact in the NBA.

A better option for the Bulls would be to take a wing. “3 and D,” floor spacer, defensive specialist, isolation expert, any type of rookie wing could help the Bulls from off the bench next season. Over the past 4 seasons, the Bulls have been just as starved of wing talent as they have of point guard talent, and as I’ve said before, wing play is regarded as more important to the current NBA then point guard play (I’m still not convinced that’s true).

Oddly enough, another position the Bulls might want to look at on draft night is Center. After nearly a decade of being front court heavy on the roster, the Bulls actually need Bigs. Looking at the roster, the Bulls only have three Bigs currently under contract: Vucevic, Al-Farouq Aminu, and Thad Young. Young’s contract is only partially guaranteed, and it’s a real possibility that the Bulls release him in order to free up money for a free agent signing. Aminu is a true Power Forward, and a giant question mark in regards to what he can contribute to the team. His age and recent injury history make him a prime candidate to be Felicio 2.0. That leaves Vucevic as the only viable Big on the team.

With big man skills valued at an all time low in the NBA, you can find solid contributors at the Center position in the 2nd round of the draft (i.e. Daniel Gafford). Centers with 1st round talent routinely fall to the early part of the 2nd round. The Bulls could set themselves up well for next season and beyond by grabbing one of these under-appreciated Bigs. Some names to look for in the second round:

Day’Ron Sharpe of North Carolina

Charles Bassey of Western Kentucky

Neemias Queta, rim protector at Utah State

Filip Petrusev of Mega Soccerbet, and teammate of Bulls Euro Savior, Marko Simonovic.

Even while I’ve ignored preparing for it, I am genuinely excited for this year’s draft, maybe even more excited than I was for last year and the 4th overall pick. Without a pick in the 1st round, this is where we see if AK and Eversley are any good at talent evaluation, and/or draft day maneuvering. The pressure is firmly on the Round Table, and it’s all of their own making.

Bold prediction time! I think Thursday night will mark the end of the Tomas Satoransky era here in Chicago, and the beginning of maybe the Keon Johnson(?) era.

That does it for this weeks post. I will of course write a post draft reaction piece for Friday morning. And if early free agent news breaks, I might have that news for Sunday. Between the Draft and start of Free Agency, these next 7 days may prove to be the busiest of the summer for the Chicago Bulls, and the NBA at large. As always, I’ll get around to sharing my views on everything that does and doesn’t happen for our favorite basketball team. Until I do, thanks for reading and GO BULLS!