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updated: 5/16/2018 7:29 PM

Lack of NBA lottery luck shouldn't hinder Chicago Bulls' draft plan

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  • Missouri's Michael Porter Jr. is 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot wingspan. A back injury sidelined him for much of his lone college season, but he is considered a pure shooter with great versatility.

    Missouri's Michael Porter Jr. is 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot wingspan. A back injury sidelined him for much of his lone college season, but he is considered a pure shooter with great versatility.
    Associated Press

  • Villanova's Mikal Bridges is a 6-foot-7 guard/forward with length, athleticism and skills. A solid defender, he improved his scoring ability while leading Villanova to a national title.

    Villanova's Mikal Bridges is a 6-foot-7 guard/forward with length, athleticism and skills. A solid defender, he improved his scoring ability while leading Villanova to a national title.
    Associated Press

  • Villanova's Jalen Brunson, a native of Lincolnshire, is embraced by teammate Mikal Bridges during a game last season. Both are projected to be selected in the first round of the NBA draft.

    Villanova's Jalen Brunson, a native of Lincolnshire, is embraced by teammate Mikal Bridges during a game last season. Both are projected to be selected in the first round of the NBA draft.
    Associated Press

 
 

The Chicago Bulls didn't get lucky at the NBA draft lottery and walked away with a consolation prize of the No. 7 overall pick.

The proper response is a yawn. Maybe the bad luck will be regrettable someday, but history suggests the Bulls will get the chance to select a good player at No. 7.

The quick spin from Bulls management Tuesday at the Palmer House Hilton was they were very happy with last year's No. 7 pick Lauri Markkanen, so why complain? The biggest reason the Bulls are picking seventh instead of top three is the rebuild's initial season went better than expected, which could bode well for the team's future.

Obviously, the Bulls will have fewer options with the No. 7 pick, but they should be able to fill a position of their choice.

"There's so many different things positionally in this draft with the bigs and a few point guards, some of the wings," said John Paxson, Bulls vice president of basketball operations. "There's some age elements to it. Beauty's in the eye of the beholder. Every team has players they like. You see it every year, and we're the same way.

"I'm just glad we know where we're picking now."

Right now, the best guess has Arizona center DeAndre Ayton and Slovenia wing Luka Doncic as the top two picks. Ayton would make sense for Phoenix at No. 1, but the Suns just hired Igor Koskokov as head coach, and he led Doncic's Slovenian national team to the European championship last year.

Two power forwards -- Duke's Marvin Bagley III and Michigan State's Jaren Jackson Jr. -- could go three and four.

Beyond that, there are small forwards (Missouri's Michael Porter Jr. and Villanova's Mikal Bridges), big men (Texas' Mo Bamba and Duke's Wendell Carter), along with point guards (Oklahoma's Trae Young and Alabama's Collin Sexton) in the presumed next group.

Paxson preached the value of having versatile players who can defend multiple positions. A rim protector such as Bamba could be enticing, but the Bulls seem more likely to choose between Porter and Bridges, if either player is still on the board. Porter missed most of his only college season with a back injury.

These days, the NBA doesn't have many difference-making centers beyond Anthony Davis. Paxson shared some thoughts on that trend.

"The more versatile a big guy is, you still love the size and the length and the talent of bigs, and there are some guys in this draft that are like that," he said. "Bigs that can change ends, can step out on the perimeter and guard multiple positions. They're valuable.

"Our game has changed some and the versatility component is important."

Bridges is a player who might improve the Bulls' defense. He was a defensive stopper on Villanova's 2016 championship team, then became one of the leading scorers when the Wildcats won again this year.

"That's a big thing, but I said last year when you're a young team, defense is always the hardest thing to get a young group to buy into," Paxson said. "We expect all of our young guys to advance in their ability to play. That's just part of their progression."

The NBA's draft combine will take place over the next two days in Chicago. Most of the top picks won't participate in workouts, and a few skipped the event completely.

"The biggest thing for us is the kids we get to interview face to face," Paxson said. "We get in a room with them and we get to kind of pick their brains a little bit. The interview process is really important for all of us."

Paxson said the Bulls likely will make the top draft candidates available to reporters when they visit Chicago in the coming weeks. That's a practice that ended during coach Tom Thibodeau's tenure.

• Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls

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