Hearts broke around Chicago Tuesday night, as the Bulls were selected to choose seventh in the NBA draft next month.
The large fall they took from the projected fourth pick to seventh has been well-documented and the subsequent heartbreak has been lived through, but there’s no changing the pick now. John Paxson, ever the optimist, seemed confident in comments to the Chicago Sun-Times immediately after the lottery.
“First of all, it’s not catastrophic,” Paxson said. “This is the fun part of it now, and I am convinced that this is a draft where at seven we’ll get another piece we like.”
Of course, there’s still a possibility that the Bulls could trade up on draft night if they find a player worth giving up assets for. But if they do stay at unlucky number seven, who could they be getting?
Jarrett Culver – Guard – Texas Tech
Jarrett Culver is a “best talent available” guy.
He doesn’t quite fit with what the Bulls are trying to do. But if he’s still there at number seven, you can’t pass up on him. If all you know about Culver is that he was outplayed in the NCAA title game, then you missed quite a bit of impressive play.
The numbers tell you good things – 18.5 points per game, 6.4 rebounds, and 3.7 assists – but the eye test tells you more. Culver’s size and length make him effective in the paint while his basketball IQ, and the 1.5 steals per game he averages, make him dangerous on defense. The only knock against Culver is his three-point shooting, which is streaky at best.
If Culver is there, the Bulls should seriously consider taking him. But only if they have a good lead on a team willing to give up good players in return.
Darius Garland – Guard – Vanderbilt
Much like Culver, Darius Garland is likely to be gone before the Bulls get to pick at seven.
But while it would be nice to have Culver, Garland is the one the Bulls should really keep their fingers crossed for. Garland would fill two missing pieces for the Bulls: a starting point guard and a shooting threat.
Garland is a risk, for sure, considering he only played five games at Vanderbilt last season before having season-ending knee surgery. But maybe the Bulls need a little risk right now, especially when the reward would be the point guard of their future, who just happens to come with a shooter’s touch.
Again, don’t get your hopes too high. There are a lot of NBA teams in need of a point guard right now, and a few of them are picking ahead of the Bulls.
Cam Reddish – Forward – Duke
If the phrase, “high risk, high reward” is ever added to the dictionary, please consider this the official start of a petition to include a picture of Cam Reddish next to it.
Reddish is undoubtedly talented. But is his talent worth the Bulls betting their rebuild on Reddish reaching his potential? With the team being one large piece, and a much-needed healthy season, away from reaching the playoffs, Reddish could push the Bulls into the playoffs if he can find his shooting stroke again.
He could also bust – badly – and leave the Bulls with nothing to show for yet another painfully bad season if he continues to struggle from the three-point line. Reddish can be allowed some leeway on his misses because he took a back seat to Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett all season, but the same would be true in Chicago, where he would likely be taking a back seat to LaVine and possibly even Markkanen.
But shooting woes aren’t the only concern for Reddish. He missed Duke’s Sweet 16 game with a mysterious knee injury that apparently didn’t show up until just before tip, which didn’t seem to sit well with coach Mike Krzyzewski and hurt his draft value as well.
The Bulls love reliable, tough-nosed guys and Reddish doesn’t seem to fit that mold. Taking Reddish would be a huge risk on the court and may also be a huge risk off the court.
Coby White – Guard – North Carolina
Coby White is a safe pick, but that doesn’t necessarily make him a bad pick.
White would fit perfectly into the Bulls’ offensive system. White is effective with or without the ball in his hands, which would pair nicely alongside Zach LaVine, who creates his own opportunities, and Lauri Markkanen, who has emerged as a potential point-forward.
White seems hesitant to create his own shooting chances, but it’s not unusual for him to knock down a three when someone else drives and kicks it to him. And the Bulls don’t need an aggressive guard, they need someone to facilitate and move without the basketball.
White fills that need perfectly.
There is one downside to White: it’s very possible that he’s already hit his ceiling. It’s a good ceiling – hell, it’s a great ceiling – but it might not be a high enough ceiling to lead the Bulls to a championship, which is what they’re looking for.
Another option for the Bulls would be to not draft anyone at seven and try to trade up to a better pick instead. An ideal candidate, if they are able to move up, would be Murray State point guard Ja Morant. But with Phoenix already throwing their hat into the ring to move up for Morant, the Bulls would have to put quite a few pieces on the table to reach him.
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