Perhaps no option for the Bulls at the 22nd overall pick is more intriguing than Chandler Hutchison. Flying largely under the radar before the NBA Combine last week, Hutchison began to make serious headlines after the event began. In fact, the 6’7, 200-pound small forward from Boise State University was so impressive to scouts and front office members during his short time at the NBA Combine that he pulled out of all his remaining drills, workouts, and interviews on May 16th. According to multiple reports, Hutchison had secured a promise from a team selecting in the 20-30 range, and his safe landing spot left him with nothing more to gain from the Combine.
Chandler Hutchison has withdrawn from the NBA Combine and canceled all workouts after receiving assurances he's found a "safe landing spot." It appears that he has secured a promise from a team drafting in the 20-30 range. Hutchison is currently slated #24 on the ESPN mock draft
— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) May 16, 2018
While seemingly a non-story at first glance, Bulls fans’ ears surely perked up when reports from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith suggested the promise was in fact from the Chicago Bulls. While not confirmed, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer only added fuel to the fire when on May 21st, he indicated Hutchison’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, is a close family friend of Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf.
Although it’s not exactly clear what Bulls management has to strategically gain from offering a promise to a prospect in the late-first round, Hutchison is without question one of the squad’s best options at pick 22. His team fit, polish, and upside would provide major value for the Bulls with their second pick of the first round, and would give the Bulls’ rebuild a welcome infusion of youth and talent. Let’s take a closer look at Hutchison’s game.
A Mission Viejo, California native, Hutchison committed to Boise State University amid little recruiting fanfare. Only rated 80th in the ESPN Top 100, Chandler’s only offer came from Boise State, and received mild additional interest from mid-majors UC Irvine and Northern Arizona.
Hutchison’s first two seasons with the Broncos didn’t yield much production, as he averaged three points per game his freshman year, and a shade under seven in his sophomore campaign. His upperclassman seasons would show massive strides, however, as his scoring average ticked up to 17.4 points per game his junior season, and over 20 as a senior. During his final year at Boise State, he showed all the makings of a well-rounded, two-way small forward, chipping in nearly 8 rebounds and four assists as well. His impressive production in his 2017-18 campaign earned him national recognition, as he was awarded First-Team All Mountain West Honors, as well as a Top-30 Finalist for the Naismith College Player of the Year Award.
At 6’7, 200 pounds with a 7-1 wingspan, Hutchison is a prototypical NBA small forward. With his lateral quickness, length, and strength, Hutchison has the defensive versatility to keep up with shifty point guards, and bang with burlier forwards. In a league increasingly reliant on the ability to switch and defend across multiple positions, Hutchison’s physical tools are invaluable on the defensive end. But beyond tools, Hutchison is smart with his positioning. Watch as he gets beat off the dribble with a quick jab step, but recovers and walls up without fouling to prevent the easy two:
Offensively, Hutchison found himself burdened with the lion’s share of the Broncos’ workload, which caused his efficiency to suffer. He shot only 47.5% from the field his senior year, and shot under 36% from three on more than four attempts per game. But in the meantime, Hutchison was one of only 47 players in NCAA-Division 1 to average 20 points per game despite consistently taking on his opponent’s toughest defender. With his size, foot speed, and strength, Hutchison is a load once he gets downhill, as he’s adept at finishing with either hand and through contact.
His tight handle and ability to get into the paint at will helped him reach the foul line often and with ease, as Hutchison averaged more than seven attempts per game from the charity stripe.
Despite his size and position, his quickness and ball handling skills enable him to initiate offense and create from pick and roll actions. Hutchison is adept at using his size and craftiness to draw attention and look over the top of the defense to find open shooters:
This level of awareness and passing accuracy is rare in a 6’7 forward with his physical tools, and his ability to play multiple roles in an offense will prove invaluable in the increasingly positionless NBA.
At 6’7, Hutchison is also an aggressive and effective rebounder. His speed, vision, and anticipation enable him to grab defensive rebounds and push in transition, leading to easy baskets on the other end.
While his three point shooting percentage wasn’t elite at under 36%, Hutchison’s stroke is fluid and easy, and he shoots it with confidence.
Hutchison finished the year with 9 games making three or more shots from long range, and will likely benefit from a secondary role in an offense where he’ll find easier catch-and-shoot looks on a consistent basis. His 75% free throw percentage also bodes well for his continued development as a shooter at the next level.
To improve, Hutchison will need to continue to work on his shot selection and off-the-bounce shooting. Possibly a product of his “go-to-guy” role in the Boise State offense, Hutchison often would settle for tough contested twos:
Too often, Hutchison would also manufacture easy looks only to come up empty handed with poor balance or a late release:
These flaws can certainly be remedied over time, as Hutchison has a well-documented history of growth and expanding his offensive arsenal throughout his four years at Boise State. While he likely won’t be asked to serve as a team’s primary scorer as a rookie, Hutchison’s dynamic offensive arsenal and budding playmaking ability are impressive feathers in his cap as he begins to build an NBA game. Coupled with his defensive awareness and impressive athleticism, Hutchison demonstrated flashes of serious two-way promise during his senior stint with the Broncos.
Arguably no team has a more gaping hole at the small forward position than the Chicago Bulls, who are in desperate need of a two-way swingman to space the floor, be a secondary playmaker, and provide defensive flexibility. Chandler Hutchison would fill that exact role for the rebuilding Bulls, as his play style would fit in seamlessly with Fred Hoiberg‘s pace-and-space offense.
After examining his game, it’s clear why Bulls management would feel enough of a conviction about Hutchison to offer him a promise at the 22nd overall selection, as he figures to have a fruitful career as a versatile two-way wing at the next level. Should Hutchison continue to develop, he projects to have a career similar to that of Trevor Ariza or Harrison Barnes–the Bulls would be thrilled with either outcome. For Hutchison and the Bulls, the only question remains whether he’ll even be available at 22 for John Paxson and Gar Forman to fulfill their promise.
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Feature Photo Credit:Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports