The Chicago Bulls will gain a clearer picture of what the June 21 NBA Draft holds for them this evening when the draft order is finalized at the 34th annual NBA draft lottery at the Palmer House Hilton in downtown Chicago.
In just a few hours, fans can watch NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum lead the annual drawing of the ping balls as part of the Cavaliers-Celtics pregame show on ESPN at roughly 6:50 p.m. CST.
Owners of the 22nd overall pick (via New Orleans) in the June NBA Draft, the Bulls are currently also owners of the sixth best chance at drawing the top overall selection in the draft, at 5.3 percent. The Bulls, who finished the 2017-18 season with a 27-55 mark, will also have a 6.02 percent chance at picking second overall, and a 6.96 percent chance of breaking into the top three picks next month.
With a “core three” of Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn in place, a home run in this year’s draft could accelerate the window for winning in Chicago tremendously. With the opportunity to add a top-10 talent to their starting lineup with their first selection, and a potential key role player in the latter stages of the first round with the pick they received from the Pelicans in the Nikola Mirotic trade.
We all know that the Bulls defied the odds before — landing the top overall selection in the 2008 NBA Draft despite owning just a 1.7 percent chance at the pick that would parlay into Derrick Rose, and the beginning of an extended playoff run in Chicago — but more than likely, we’re looking at the Bulls picking somewhere between fifth and eighth overall.
The Bulls front office is still relishing the success of last year’s seventh overall selection, Lauri Markkanen, who was a Rookie of the Year candidate this past season. But before Markkanen in 2017, Gar Forman and John Paxson‘s draft record has been littered with some misses and question marks in June.
In 2016 the Bulls took Denzel Valentine out of Michigan State with the 14th pick, and through his first 134 games, the former Spartan has averaged just eight points per contest, and carries a field goal percentage below 40 percent. Valentine has shown flashes of potential sparingly, but has been a below average player overall.
2015 saw the Bulls take Bobby Portis late in the first round, and to this point, Portis has given the Bulls what you might expect from a 22nd overall selection. 10-15 high energy minutes off the bench is what you can expect from Portis, and while this past season seemed like a real developmental year for the big man from Arkansas, his scoring and rebounding uptick really only matches his increased playing time. Portis logged a PER (Player Efficiency Rating) of 16.7, just 1.7 better than the league average.
Doug McDermott (2014), Tony Snell (2013), and Marquis Teague (2012) were all first round swing-and-misses by GarPax, who’s last notable home run in the draft came back in 2011 when they snagged Jimmy Butler with the 30th overall selection.
If the Bulls land in the top three of the draft, expect them to take a stab at the likes of Marvin Bagley III (Duke), DeAndre Ayton (Arizona) or Luka Doncic (Slovenia). If the Bulls fall into the 5-8 area, they will likely be able to address their need at small forward with either Michael Porter Jr. (Mizzou) or Mikal Bridges (Villanova).
Stay tuned for our comprehensive draft coverage that will kick off once the Ping-Pong balls fall tonight, and run through the NBA Draft on June 21. Be sure to follow The Loop Sports, and lead Bulls writer Ethan Levy on Twitter for the latest.
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