After several grueling months of healthy scratches, deadline dump-offs, and funky lineups in an effort to secure the highest pick possible in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Chicago Bulls finally have their answer: they will be selecting seventh overall. Originally slotted to select sixth, the Bulls were leapfrogged by the Sacramento Kings, who moved up five spots to nab the second overall pick. The Atlanta Hawks moved up from the 4th highest-odds to select third, and the Phoenix Suns cashed in on their highest-overall odds to win the lottery–they’ll have the first pick in the draft.
In a cruel twist of fate, the Bulls’ victory over the Kings in the tiebreak for the 6th and 7th picks actually ended up earning them the lower of the two slots. The ping pong ball combinations assigned to the Kings turned out to be their lucky numbers, enabling them to jump all the way up to the second selection. Had the Bulls lost the coin toss, they’d have been the team assigned those lucky combinations, and would find themselves sitting pretty in the draft’s on-deck circle.
Asked if the bump-down in draft order would change their approach, Vice President of Basketball Operations John Paxson said he doesn’t consider there to be a major difference between the two choices. Per Paxson and 670 The Score, the Bulls are prioritizing “players who can guard multiple positions and get where they want on the floor offensively”. A quick reading of the tea leaves seems to indicate Bulls brass has keyed in on a wing player with the seventh overall pick–particularly the polished junior forward Mikal Bridges from Villanova, or tantalizing-yet-risky Michael Porter Jr. out of Missouri.
This would seem to confirm Paxson’s comments at the team’s end-of-year press conference, where he observed, “I think we need to look at the wing position. That would be an ideal spot. Size and length…a shooting component and a defensive component would be an area we would like to improve.” While he acknowledged the organization would prioritize best player available, the team is in desperate need of a versatile, two-way small forward to slot in next to the offensive-minded Zach LaVine.
While many Bulls fans may be dismayed by the lottery-night demotion, the organization selected the Finnish sensation Lauri Markkanen with the seventh overall selection in last year’s draft. The pressure will be on management to identify a player with similar promise in this year’s crop, regardless of whether they find him at the seventh or 22nd overall pick. Be sure to check in with The Loop Sports for all your draft coverage needs, as we’ll be rolling out in-depth scouting profiles for all the key prospects at both of the team’s selections.
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Feature Photo Credit: ESPN