If your favorite NBA team wasn’t a title contender, it was likely leaving tributes at the base of Mt. Zion (Williamson). Thirteen franchises all sit under the stoplight that is the 2019 NBA Draft. TSFJ gives each team a reason to speed through, take caution and even hit the brakes hard before making a wrong turn. We continue this series with a look at the 7th overall pick and the Chicago Bulls.
How we got here
They are a team whose direction is the among the toughest to determine in all of the Association. They are nowhere near a playoff caliber team, but also do not seem resigned towards joining the ranks of the determined re-builders (more popularly known as ‘tanking’) either. After spending most of the year in the prime real estate of ‘Lottoville’, a mid-February surge after adding Otto Porter Jr. saw them win 27% of their 22 victories on the year in a two-week span, nearly costing them a chance at landing within the elite, top four lottery grounds in the process.
However, the odds continue to not be in their favor. Despite entering Draft Lottery night having secured those the fourth-worst record, they slid back to a position they seem to own the land deed to – the seventh pick.
It is the third time in as many years that they have control the 7th slot, landing Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. from it as well. The pair of solid frontcourt contributors show promise, but it still is far from the land of being able to select the type of franchise-changing talent they desperately are in need of. The caterpillar-like retooling of the Bulls continues on from the just outside purgatory range of the lottery for yet another year.
Green Light: Draft Coby White
The Bulls have a clear void at point guard, where Kris Dunn did not make the type of strides in his sophomore year in the Chi that seemed possible after a strong debut a year ago. Unfortunately for them, they landed well out of range for either Ja Morant or Darius Garland, so instead they get to take a long, hard look at the upside of White instead.
He’s a big point guard at 6’5, but is a dynamic ballhandler who can get to the rim with ease due to a natural burst. He needs to improve as both a playmaker for others and as an on-ball defender, but he provides an upside that the team has been otherwise incapable of adding at the point. The pace that he is capable of playing at would fit in nicely alongside Zach LaVine, while also opening up even better looks for Markkanen.
As a sidebar however, if they remain open to deals involving LaVine, then Jarrett Culver instantly becomes a very, very enticing option here as well. If he remains on the board this long.
Yellow Light: Trade back… or trade out?
The Bulls also have the option of really mixing it up here and opting out of the pick altogether. With teams such as the Lakers, Knicks and Pelicans looking to make moves ahead of them — and more importantly, ahead of a huge free agent class this summer — they could hold a ton of trade value via a top 10 pick.
Could the Lakers look to sweet the pot in a deal by including Lonzo Ball in a bid to gain another draft pick to dangle in a bid to finally get Anthony Davis on board? Could the Knicks look to do the same? How about the Hawks, who could be looking to consolidate a few of their six picks? Maybe the Suns or Knicks like the vantage point a bit later in the lotto? Adding future picks wouldn't be the worst idea on Earth here for a team that's likely to continue to need more ammo going forward, regardless of who they select this year.
There’s a lot of maybe in the mix here, but this is right in the heart of where the draft could get spicy. White is nice, as is the potential of Culver, DeAndre Hunter, Nassir Little or Sekou Doumbouya, but the value of making this pick available ahead of the positioning war that’s set to take place this summer could (keyword) net the John Paxson, Gar Forman and company the best potential outcome of all.
Red Light: Draft Cam Reddish
Reddish has been the toughest prospect of all to peg over the last year. He struggled to find his way at Duke, as he never hit his stride as third wheel among Zion and RJ Barrett. Reddish shot only 33% from three and 77% from the line, uninspiring numbers for a guy who’s calling card is that of a potential knockdown shooter.
Reddish could ultimately prove me wrong here, by maximizing those tools as he matures and becoming the type of elite scorer he was billed to be before heading to college. But for a Bulls team that already has enough ball-needy wings among its ranks already, it could be more of the same for Reddish in trying to find where he fits into the picture. The upside is there, I suppose, but there are far better ways to use this pick than taking that gamble.
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