The Bulls entered Thursday’s NBA Draft lottery with a 31.9 percent chance of moving into the top four. They came away with the No. 4 pick and a big opportunity to lift their underwhelming roster.
Having removed its previous general manager and coach this offseason, Chicago can sell fans on a broader organizational turnaround if it chooses wisely in the draft. There are numerous contributors who are qualified to stick around if the team grows into an Eastern Conference contender, and improved leadership should help matters.
Where the Bulls go with the No. 4 pick will be influenced by what happens ahead of them. There are at least six players rumored to be contenders for a top-three selection, and it’s unclear who might fall beyond that range. Minnesota, Golden State and Charlotte are ahead of Chicago in the 2020 NBA Draft order.
Here’s what the Bulls might do, and what their existing roster holds:
Where do the Bulls pick in the first and second rounds?
The Bulls have the No. 4 and No. 44 overall selections. The latter pick is in the second round.
Bulls mock draft projections
Chicago has more guards than bigs, but greater concentrated potential in its frontcourt duo of Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr.
Drafting a big man such as James Wiseman or Obi Toppin could be seen as a bad sign for Markkanen or Carter. Drafting a guard such as LaMelo Ball means the team would need to immediately figure out its cluster of decent-to-disappointing backcourt players, which includes Coby White, Zach LaVine, Ryan Arcidiacono and Tomas Satoransky. Kris Dunn and Shaquille Harrison are restricted free agents who could add to that logjam.
That all might mean a versatile forward is the most practical option for the Bulls, though they could just stick with the “best available” mantra if they aren’t in love with Anthony Edwards, Deni Avdija or Isaac Okoro.
Immediately following the NBA Draft lottery, mock drafts offered mixed projections for where the Bulls might go. The Chicago Sun-Times predicted them to take Avdija, The Ringer predicted them to take Ball, Tankathon and SB Nation predicted them to take Killian Hayes and Stadium predicted them to take Toppin.
Which players can the Bulls build around?
There’s a difference in who the Bulls are forced to build around and who they would like to build around.
Barring a trade, LaVine, Markkanen, Carter, White and Otto Porter Jr. will likely be the team’s key cogs in 2020-21. LaVine and Porter (should he accept his $28 million player option) will be hard to move for salary reasons. Markkanen, Carter and White are set to stick around because they are young, inexpensive and still capable of blossoming. Beyond them, the existing muck of players in Chicago probably won’t sort itself out quite yet.
Among the players the Bulls already have, few if any seem likely to become superstars. Markkanen was supposed to be primed for a breakout, but his game has stalled and his health has at times been an issue. He retains enough potential for the team to keep optimism in his game.
White might be the brightest of the bunch. He exceeded rookie expectations with a torrid second half cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic, averaging 26.1 points on 48 percent shooting over his final nine games.
Carter doesn’t want to be played at center but is a 19 percent shooter from beyond the arc. That said, he wasn’t the only one who took issue with former coach Jim Boylen, and while he doesn’t necessarily look like a star, he has shown enough to believe he could be a steady producer.
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