Reader mailbag: Chicago Bulls face tough questions with top draft pick

  • Texas' Mo Bamba (4) lays up the ball during the second half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Texas Tech, Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018, in Lubbock, Texas.

    Texas' Mo Bamba (4) lays up the ball during the second half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Texas Tech, Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018, in Lubbock, Texas.

Updated 5/6/2018 7:20 PM

As the NBA playoffs continue, the Chicago Bulls are focused on next month's NBA draft.

Bulls fans, naturally, have a lot of questions about the draft, and here are a few of their concerns:


I believe Bulls should go big at No. 6 with either Wendell Carter Jr. or Jaren Jackson Jr. (it's a junior theme), then look wing at No. 22 where there will still be solid wings available (Troy Brown from Oregon and Chandler Hutchison from Boise State.) Thoughts? -- @JoeKasiak

Readers asked several variations of this topic. The basic conundrum is if the Bulls don't move into the top three, should they consider a big man such as Michigan State's Jaren Jackson Jr., Duke's Wendell Carter Jr. or Texas' Mo Bamba, or opt for a small-forward type, with Missouri's Michael Porter Jr. and Villanova's Mikal Bridges the obvious targets?

With the Bulls' future three of Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen on board, the empty spots in a projected lineup are small forward and center. Having a rim-protecting center who also can shoot from the outside would be a nice fit in the Bulls' scheme, no doubt.

As I wrote recently, the biggest reason to pass on a big man early is simply the trend in today's NBA. There is one big man serving as a difference-maker in the playoffs, New Orleans' Anthony Davis, and not one of the three guys mentioned above seems likely to approach Davis' level.

Jackson is rising in the mock drafts, probably because he seems to be the most complete offensive player of those three. Jackson had a couple of games in the Big Ten where he knocked down 5 3-pointers.

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It's a little strange that MSU coach Tom Izzo left Jackson on the bench during tournament season -- he scored 8 points total in the Spartans' two NCAA games -- but the talent seems to be there. Jackson might be gone before the sixth pick.

By the way, Jackson was Jack Hoiberg's road roommate last season, so the Bulls know him well.

Carter put up some good numbers (13.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.1 blocks) even while being overshadowed by fellow Duke freshman Marvin Bagley III. He didn't attempt many 3s but made them at a 41 percent rate. He's a player to consider.

With his long wingspan, Bamba has great potential as a shot-blocker. Offensively, he could be a long-term project, since he needs to add weight and develop an outside shot.

If the Bulls want to approximate the Golden State model, a wing makes more sense. Porter Jr. has some star potential, while Bridges could be the dirty-work guy who can score.


Do you think the front office would consider trading Bobby Portis with the Pelicans pick to move up in the draft (late lottery 10-12 range)? -- @JordanDynasty

To recap, the Bulls own New Orleans' first-rounder at No. 22 from the Nikola Mirotic deal, but trading into the lottery seems a little far-fetched. With payrolls rising, teams covet the chance to have a player locked into the rookie pay scale for four years.

One idea that seems a little more feasible is trading Nos. 6 and 22 for the Clippers' picks at 12 and 13. I doubt the Bulls would do that because they want a shot at landing a potential difference-maker with that projected No. 6 pick.

The 2018 Pelicans pick: A. Draft a young player now to add to the rotation; B. "Draft and stash" an international player; C. Trade the pick for a future pick or young player. What's the best option for the Bulls moving forward? -- @126thst

I think the most likely scenario is A. The Bulls could take an international player if there's someone they like, but they haven't done that very often. Doubtful the trade market for the No. 22 pick would be enticing.

The Bulls hit big on a couple of late first-rounders in the past decade with Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson, so they likely will make the pick and hope to strike it rich.

• Mike McGraw is answering readers' questions about the Bulls and the NBA. Send him a question via Twitter @ McGrawDHBulls. The lottery will be held May 15 in Chicago, with the NBA draft on June 21 in Brooklyn, New York.


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