The Chicago Bulls weren’t good last year. Alright, we have that established, but they are definitely on the rise. The franchise has a young and solid core of players that are all expected to take some jumps next season, possibly speeding up the rebuild.
As with any team that isn’t the Golden State Warriors, the Bulls have some glaring needs they need addressed. They have two routes to fix this, and that’s through free agency and the draft. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN has said that he believes the Bulls “are going to be sneaky in free agency.” He said this was because of their “young core” and the fact that it’s Chicago.
— Rob Lopez (@r0bato) June 6, 2018
Yes, the Bulls have the second most cap space of any team in the league, but they shouldn’t use it for this season, especially with a limited free agent market. That brings the second option, which is the draft. The Bulls currently have the 7th and 22 picks, respectively. However, this piece will just focus on the 7th overall pick. So, the biggest question remains: Who are they picking?
WENDALL CARTER JR. The center from Duke has been linked with the Chicago Bulls the most in these mock drafts. It’s hard to disagree, considering that Chicago does need help long term at the center position, with Robin Lopez’s contract ending soon and getting up there in age. The upside to Carter Jr. is high, but some Bulls fans would groan at the “safeness” of the pick. However, he has a well-documented basketball IQ, a pretty good passer and can thrive in Coach Fred Hoiberg’s system.
As documented by Fansided, Hoiberg’s system, in regards to the big men on the court, include ball reversals and dribble hand-offs. Carter also throws in some creativity, can protect the rim and will help the Bulls defensively, where they were ranked 28th last season. A draft pick like Carter also goes well in line of what this management regime has done in the past, but imagining him on the front court alongside Lauri Markkanen is quite enticing. This is the player that the Bulls are most likely to grab, considering their draft history and all the options he brings. But there are some other picks that the Bulls can make, especially if the front office wants to make a splash.
MOHAMED BAMBA. If Bamba manages to slide to number 7 in the draft, the Bulls would be all over him. Another center, Yahoo! sports says that his upside is absolutely undeniable. Bamba can block the ball like no other, he can absolutely run, posing a 3/4 court sprint in just over three seconds, and there is no denying his defensive prowess. However, it’s his rebounding that is highly intriguing. Yahoo! sports posted that he had a 28.2% defensive rebound rate last season, good for 15th overall in the country. He also had 96 offensive rebounds, and scored on 71 of them.
There are some concerns about his game though. According to Sports Illustrated, the biggest concern from the NBA has been around his competitiveness. The other issue here is that there are six other teams in front of the Bulls that would love to have a player of Bamba’s caliper, with the Dallas Mavericks being the biggest competitor. If that is the case, the Mavericks hold the number 5 spot, which would mean the Bulls would have to trade their number 7 pick and another player. Are they really going to do that? Fan speculation aside, there is one other interesting player that has been rumored around the Bulls.
TRAE YOUNG: According to Vincent Goodwill from NBC Sports, the Bulls are pretty high on the point guard from the University of Oklahoma. According to Goodwill, the Bulls believe “he’ll be better in a pro setting where all of the defensive attention doesn’t fall on him.” While plenty of people compare Young to a poor man’s Steph Curry, the Bulls already have Kris Dunn, who is becoming a great two-way player.
Perhaps this was just a report to throw some other teams off at the draft? With all due respect to Young, this wouldn’t be a good selection. Yes, he is talented and can shoot from anywhere on the court. But the Bulls already have Dunn, whom they are trying to build around, and selecting Young with the 7th pick could possibly stunt Dunn’s growth. It’s unlikely, but with all the talk that has been dished out, it was worth noting.
Obviously everything could change come draft day, but as for my personal guess, I would have the Bulls taking Wendall Carter Jr. Yes, it’s a boring pick, and some fans would probably rage given that the Bulls tanked this season just to grab the “safe” pick, but unless Bamba drops, this is who I think the Bulls grab.