Remember the Bulls’ 10-2 stretch in December? It didn’t aid their positioning in the NBA draft lottery on Tuesday.
Despite winning a coin flip with Sacramento for the No. 6 pick in the draft in April, they’ll end up selecting a spot behind that while the Kings moved up to No. 2 overall. But similar to last year — when the Bulls drafted Lauri Markkanen — GarPax should have an array of choices with the No. 7 pick. Here’s how they should construct their draft board, assuming a mixture of these players are available.
1. Michael Porter Jr., F, Missouri: The 6-foot-10, 215-pound freshman collected only 53 minutes after undergoing back surgery in November. The NBA draft combine will be critical in determining where is health stands, but he should fall near the Bulls’ pick as a result. Porter was expected to go first overall before the season tipped off and boasts the ceiling of a three-level scorer (interior, mid-range, threes). The Columbia, Miss. native could develop into a No. 1 scoring option at the wing for a organization lacking just that.
2. Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma: Critics deem Young as solely a shooter, yet he exhibited a well-rounded skill-set with the Sooners. The 6’2”, 180-pound freshman ranked first in college basketball in points per game (27.4) and assist rate (48.5 percent). Although he notched the most turnovers per contest (5.2) in the sport, he faced double teams on 43.7 percent of his touches beyond half court — the most since then-Davidson guard Steph Curry (31.4 percent) in the 2008-09 season. His smaller build could suffer in the paint, but like Porter, Young’s potential star power is tough to pass on. He’d give the Bulls two primary ball handlers in their backcourt alongside Kris Dunn, too.
3. Mohamed Bamba, C, Texas: Even though the Harlem, N.Y. native wasn’t a dominant force offensively (12.9 ppg, 54.1 percent shooting), his adequate ball handling gave him an advantage against slower big men in the Big 12. He also made a dent at the other end of the floor, finished fifth in the nation in block rate (13.2 percent) and 15th defensive rebounding rate. Bamba’s 7’9” wingspan and 9’6” standing reach should allow him to have a significant role from day one. However, he’ll need to bolster his 6’11”, 225-pound frame to stick with more physical centers in the NBA.
4. Wendell Carter, C, Duke: The 6’10”, 259-pound freshman was lost in the spotlight because of fellow Blue Devils’ big man Marvin Bagley III, but he’s no slouch. Carter notched the third-highest true shooting percentage in the ACC (62.1 percent) to fuel his 13.5 points per game. His ability to play inside-out would fit well with the aforementioned Markkanen. Plus, his sound hands make him a great rebounder (9.5 rpg) despite his unimpressive 7’3” wingspan. Still, the Fairburn, Ga. native doesn’t present a ton of upside compared to the elite frontcourt players in his class (Deandre Ayton, Jaren Jackson Jr., Bagley).
5. Mikal Bridges, F, Villanova: The 6’6”, 210-pound Bridges fits the mold of a Bulls’ draft pick, spending three years in college while winning two national titles. He’s arguably the best 3-and-D prospect in the draft, as he shot 43.5 percent from behind the arc in his junior campaign. His lack of physicality (28.2 percent free-throw rate) is concerning, though. Playing alongside Wildcats’ point guard Jalen Brunson forced him to become less of an isolation player. Even if the Bulls desperately want to add a wing with their first pick, the Malvern, Pa. native’s ceiling isn’t nearly as attractive the aforementioned prospects.