Chicago heads into the draft with two first-round picks, No. 7 and No. 22 (Nikola Mirotic trade). What really hurts is that bad lottery luck dropped them down a spot from No. 6 to No. 7 (only the Bulls). The Bulls need a superstar to be a title contender again, and the draft is the best chance of acquiring one because they consistently strike out with big-named free agents post Michael Jordan.
The two times the Bulls were legitimate contenders in my lifetime came from drafting Jordan, and later Derrick Rose. If the Bulls fail to acquire a superstar in this draft, this iteration of yet another rebuild will be a failure. This is precisely why the Bulls must select a guy with superstar potential that can change the trajectory of the franchise with their first pick. Here are the three guys likely to be available at number 7 that come to mind:
Trae Young/ Guard/ Oklahoma
Young is a dynamic scorer who led the nation in points (27.4 ppg) and assists (8.8 apg) last year. Love him or hate him, Young will always be compared to Steph Curry due to his size, handles, and long-range sniping.
His shooting will translate perfectly in today’s game, but his size is a concern for some. He’s a bit smaller than Curry and not nearly as strong. He was bullied by West Virginia’s Jevon Carter on both ends of the floor, and everyone at the next level will try to do the same. If selected by the Bulls, Young will thrive in Hoiberg’s offense because of his shooting, especially when used in pick-and-roll scenarios. But can he co-exist with Kris Dunn? While he is a polarizing selection, every GM would love the security earned by grabbing the next Steph.
Michael Porter Jr./ Forward/ Missouri
If I told you last year that the Bulls would have the chance to get Porter Jr. in this year’s draft, every Bulls fan would’ve danced with joy. Porter, the unanimous top pick before the season began, may slip to Chicago. If all the medicals check out – and they should – Porter would be an incredible steal. He can score facing up, off the dribble, and with his back to the basket. His combination of size and 3-point shooting ability gives Fred Hoiberg another weapon to add to the team’s arsenal. In today’s NBA, that combination is exactly what teams are looking for in a modern big. The quartet of Dunn, Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine, and MPJ would be able to get some buckets for years to come. And last but not least, don’t forget the Reinsdorf/ Bartelstein connection. If he is sitting there at No. 7, it will be hard for the Bulls to pass on him.
Mo Bamba/ Center/ Texas
Bamba’s combination of size and skill has everyone salivating over his potential. Mo has the longest wingspan (7’10”) amongst all the draftees at the combine, EVER. Rudy Gobert was the previous record holder at 7’8″.
Bamba is known for his defense and shot blocking abilities. He finished No. 5 in the country in block rate and averaged 3.7 bpg (2nd in the nation). The comparison everyone makes is Gobert. Well in my opinion, Bamba has the potential to be as good, if not better than, Gobert on the defensive end. His skill set would compliment Markkanen well giving the Bulls backline a modern day twin towers.
His offense is still a work in progress, but he runs the floor well, can finish at the rim, and has a nice touch.
I also love that he has been working with trainer Drew Hanlen this off-season. Hanlen has trained Joel Embiid, Bradley Beal, and Jayson Tatum just to name a few, and they all dramatically improved offensively as a result.
A couple of other guys that have been linked to the Bulls are Mikal Bridges and Wendell Carter Jr. While both have very high floors and should be solid players for years to come, I don’t see either being a guy that single-handedly elevates a franchise to the next level. In this draft, I want the Bulls to take a risk, basically, swing for the fences.
The No. 22 pick should be an interesting one. Will the Bulls go high risk/ high reward, or look for someone that can come in and be a good role player right away?
If they are looking for a project, Mitchell Robinson, Jontay Porter, and Anfernee Simmons fit the bill. If they are looking for immediate contributors, Jalen Brunson, and Chandler Hutchinson are both polished, four-year players.
No matter what direction the Bulls go in, they have to hit a home run at No.7, the franchise’s future depends on it.