NBA Mock Draft: Bulls unlikely to get immediate help at No. 22


NBA Mock Draft: Bulls unlikely to get immediate help at No. 22

With the Bulls only holding one selection in the upcoming draft, there isn’t much of a chance to grab a rotation player on June 25. Still, Gar Forman and his scouting staff can add a developmental player with the No. 22 overall pick, who will eventually earn minutes under new coach Fred Hoiberg. And, given the Bulls’ success with late first round picks like Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson and Nikola Mirotic, you have to like their chances.

Here’s an early look at how draft night might play out.

1. Timberwolves: Karl-Anthony Towns, C/PF, Kentucky

Minnesota is reportedly split right now with head coach and President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders wanting Duke product Jahlil Okafor and other members of the front office preferring Towns. The guess here is Towns will eventually win out because of his superior athleticism and ability to play the power forward spot. Minnesota already has a highly-paid center in the often-injured Nikola Pekovic, but he could be a trade candidate.

2. Lakers: Jahlil Okafor, C, Duke

The Lakers are desperate for size and inside scoring, and Okafor should be able to provide both. Kobe Bryant is expected to return from shoulder surgery and will remain the focal point of the offense, but the addition of Okafor and last year’s lottery pick, Julius Randle, should give the Lakers some hope for the future.

[MORE NBA DRAFT: Looney's rebounding could prove useful to Bulls]

3. 76ers: D’Angelo Russell, SG/PG, Ohio State

Philly has stocked up on young bigs in recent drafts with Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid and European prospect Dario Saric. Adding a dynamic playmaker with good size like Russell should help jump-start their rebuilding program.

4. Knicks: Emmanuel Mudiay, PG, China

No team was more disappointed on draft night than the Knicks, who dropped from second to fourth overall. Phil Jackson was hoping to add one of the young centers to his triangle offense, now he’ll probably have to settle for an unproven point guard who played in China last season, instead of going to SMU to play for Larry Brown like he originally planned. Mudiay is said to be a tremendous talent, but is he the right fit in New York? Jackson might decide to take the safer route and go with Duke small forward Justice Winslow instead.

5. Magic: Justice Winslow, SF, Duke

Orlando GM Rob Henigan is quietly putting together a nice roster in Central Florida for new coach Scott Skiles. Winslow would be a good fit at the small forward spot, especially if Tobias Harris leaves in free agency. The Magic have already drafted or traded for impressive young talents like Victor Oladipo, NIk Vucevic, Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon. 

6. Kings: Kristaps Porzingis, PF, Spain

Hard to tell what Sacramento might do here. They really need a point guard, but Murray State’s Cameron Payne would be a reach this high. Kings have All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins up front, but Porzingis could be a complement to Boogie with his ability to shoot from the outside.

7. Nuggets: Trey Lyles, PF, Kentucky

Another mismatched roster with too many wing players and not enough size. Lyles might have been the most underused talent on that Kentucky roster last season, but scouts love his inside-outside potential. 

[NBA DRAFT: Check out all our NBA Draft player profiles]

8. Pistons: Stanley Johnson, SF, Arizona

Stan Van Gundy is still trying to sort out his roster, and it’s very likely the Pistons will lose Greg Monroe in free agency. Johnson only played one season at Arizona, but he’s one of the few players in this draft with real star potential, so Van Gundy might swing for the fences here.

9. Hornets: Mario Hezonja, SG, Spain

Okay, I’ve never seen the guy play, but scouts seem to love him, and Charlotte is one of the worst shooting teams in the NBA. The Lance Stephenson experiment failed miserably and Gerald Henderson could be leaving in free agency, so this is a position of need for Michael Jordan’s team. 

10. Heat: Devin Booker, SG, Kentucky

Make it three Kentucky players in the Top 10. Booker didn’t get a chance to fully showcase his talents with John Calipari playing 10 guys on a regular basis, but scouts love his shooting ability, and think he has potential to score off the dribble. Good insurance for Miami in case Dwyane Wade is serious about opting out of his contract in search of a max deal.

11. Pacers: Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky

Make it four of the first 11 for the Wildcats. Cauley-Stein is a free spirit, who might raise a few red flags with NBA GM’s during the interview process. Not sure how French Lick native Larry Bird will react to Cauley-Stein’s quirkiness, but Bird can appreciate an agile big man with superior defensive skills. Cauley-Stein could play right away if Roy Hibbert leaves via free agency or trade.

12. Jazz: Sam Dekker, SF, Wisconsin

Another team that is putting together a good young roster. In case you missed it, Utah finished with a winning record after the All-Star break under first-year head coach Quin Snyder. The Jazz have a high lottery pick backcourt in Trey Burke and Dante Exum, a shot-blocking center in Rudy Gobert, and a veteran scorer in Gordon Hayward. Dekker would be a good fit with the capability to play both forward spots off the bench.

13. Suns: Frank Kaminsky, C/PF, Wisconsin

Back-to-back Badgers go off the board. Phoenix loves to shoot the three, and Kaminsky will fit right in, assuming he can make the transition from college center to NBA power forward. Given his tremendous success at Wisconsin, I wouldn’t bet against him.

[MORE NBA DRAFT: Experience the name of the game for Utah's Delon Wright]

14. Thunder: Cameron Payne, PG, Murray State

Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook played at a near MVP level last season, but might he be even better at shooting guard alongside a true distributor like Payne? The 6-foot-2 Murray State star has been the talk of the pre-draft workout circuit, and may go even higher than this spot for another team looking to trade up.

15. Hawks: Myles Turner, C/PF, Texas

Another player who’s been impressive in pre-draft workouts after one less than sensational year in college. Most scouts project the 6-foot-11 Turner as an NBA power forward, and that’s an area of need for the three-point shooting Hawks, especially with Paul Millsap heading into free agency.

16. Celtics: Montrezl Harrell, PF, Louisville

As usual, Danny Ainge is armed with multiple draft picks and cap room, so he could go in a number of directions. Harrell was a preseason All-American a year ago, but kind of got lost on a dysfunctional Louisville team. A little undersized for an NBA power forward, but has a high motor like current Golden State overachiever Draymond Green.

17. Bucks: Jerian Grant, PG/SG, Notre Dame

Sure, the Bucks just traded for their point guard of the future in Michael Carter-Williams, but I’m guessing Jason Kidd wouldn’t mind having another big, versatile guard on his roster. Grant was the driving force behind Notre Dame’s run to the Elite 8, and could be an excellent swing guard in the pros.

18. Rockets: Tyus Jones, PG, Duke

The small, but explosive Jones came through big time in the NCAA tournament, helping Mike Krzyzewski win his fifth national title. Houston really missed injured point guard Patrick Beverley during the playoffs, and would be well-advised to add a young prospect like Jones. Really good value at this pick.

[MORE NBA DRAFT: Excitement builds over Sam Dekker's NBA potential]

19. Wizards: Bobby Portis, PF, Arkansas

Portis has been telling the media he’s the best power forward in the draft. Probably not accurate, but you have to appreciate his self-confidence. Washington really doesn’t have any major needs, but with Nene in and out of the lineup all season, another big man couldn’t hurt.

20. Raptors: Kevon Looney, PF, UCLA

Toronto has been unhappy with the production at the power forward spot from Amir Johnson and Tyler Hansbrough. Looney played just one season at UCLA, but he’s a very athletic big who could grab some minutes right away for the reigning Atlantic Division champs.

21. Mavericks: Delon Wright, PG, Utah

After the failed Rajon Rondo experiment, Dallas could be looking for a young point guard to develop behind the unimpressive trio of Devin Harris, J.J. Barea and Ray Felton. Wright is a four-year player at Utah with good size at 6-foot-5, who should be able to contribute right away.

22. BULLS: R.J. Hunter, SG, Georgia State

I think the Bulls would love to grab a young point guard like Grant, Jones or Wright to develop behind Derrick Rose, but with all three off the board, they might reach for a big-time shooter like Hunter, who was one of the stars of last spring’s NCAA tournament. Hoiberg wants to play a fast-paced, quick-strike offense, and fill the court with shooters, which would make Hunter a nice addition. A young developmental big is also a possibility here, maybe Syracuse’s Rakeem Christmas, Kentucky’s Dakari Johnson or Washington’s Robert Upshaw.

23. Blazers: Justin Anderson, SF, Virginia

Solid two-way player who excelled under a defense-first system at Virginia. Has the versatility to play either wing position, and might be a good fit for Portland with Wes Matthews coming off an Achilles injury and also heading into free agency.

[MORE NBA DRAFT: Cameron Payne wants to be NBA's next Stephen Curry]

24. Cavs: Rashad Vaughn, SG, UNLV

Averaged almost 18 points per game for the Runnin’ Rebels. Cleveland is pretty well stocked at most positions, and with most of the top point guards off the board, another shooter like Vaughn provides some insurance in case J.R. Smith decides to opt out of the final year of his contract.

25. Grizzlies: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, SF, Arizona

Probably would have benefited from another year in college to work on his offensive game. Still, Hollis-Jefferson is an excellent perimeter defender who should fit in well with the Grizzlies culture.

26. Spurs: Rakeem Christmas, PF/C, Syracuse

Spurs could go with a European stash candidate to save some cap room for possible free agent moves. But if they decide to draft a player who could contribute next season, Christmas has performed well in workouts, and could learn behind perhaps the best power forward of all time in Tim Duncan.

27. Lakers: Kelly Oubre, SF, Kansas

Only played one uninspired season at Kansas and hasn’t looked all that good in team workouts. Still, scouts loved him coming out of high school, and maybe Bryant can light a fire under him in L.A.

28. Celtics: Christian Wood, PF, UNLV

Not a great athlete, but he can really shoot it. At this point of the draft, Boston could go in a number of directions, or even look to trade the pick.

[SHOP BULLS: Get your Bulls gear right here]

29. Nets: Terry Rozier, PG, Louisville

More of a scorer than a playmaker, but Brooklyn is looking for some youth at the position behind Deron Williams and Jarrett Jack. Rozier is also showing well in pre-draft workouts.

30. Warriors: Jordan Mickey, PF, LSU

Golden State is having great success with Green playing the power forward position at 6-foot-7, so why not add a similar multiple effort kind of player like the 6-foot-8 Mickey? Could also go for another shooter like Nebraska’s Terran Petteway or UCLA’S Norman Powell.

Lauri Markkanen nearly 'Finnishes' in Skills Challenge against former Bull Spencer Dinwiddie


Lauri Markkanen nearly 'Finnishes' in Skills Challenge against former Bull Spencer Dinwiddie

Los Angeles—Lauri Markkanen called himself “The Finnisher” when asked what the movie of his life would be called.

Apparently, that moniker didn’t apply to the All-Star Skills challenge as he took down the best big men but couldn’t close against a former Bull, Spencer Dinwiddie, in the final.

The contest highlights players’ ability to dribble around cones shaped like NBA logos, throwing a chest pass into a net while having to complete a layup and then 3-pointer before their opponent does.

Markkanen took down Detroit’s Andre Drummond and Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid before facing off with Dinwiddie. He held a pose after hitting a triple to beat the uber confident Embiid, in what will likely be used as a memorable gif following the weekend.

His confidence doesn’t come across as blatantly as Embiid’s, but that snapshot shows he’s no humble star in the making. He didn’t even practice for the contest, by his own admission.

“I heard some of the guys did,” Markkanen said. “I didn’t do much, just before the competition, I did a little warm-up.”

Missing on the first pass attempt into the circular net in the final, it gave Dinwiddie the advantage he wouldn’t relinquish, hitting on his second 3-point attempt before Markkanen could make it downcourt to contest.

“It’s a lot harder than I’ve seen,” Markkanen said. “I thought it was gonna be super easy but it was kind of tough. Maybe I need to hold my follow through (on the pass).”

“I saw he missed (the first shot) and I started going. I thought he would’ve missed it too. I think I would’ve gotten it on the third shot.”

Being one of the multi-dimensional big men in today’s game who can be adept on the perimeter as well as the interior, it almost seems like the contest was made for Markkanen. Although he doesn’t do much handling in Fred Hoiberg’s offense, it’s clearly a skill he will develop as time goes on.

The last two winners of the skills challenge were Karl-Anthony Towns and Kristaps Porzingis, and Markkanen was well aware of the recent trend.

“The last two years the bigs have won,” Markkanen said. “I’m kind of pissed that I couldn’t keep the streak going after (those two). I think there’s a lot of guys who can do that now, it’s why they changed the format to bigs versus smalls.”

For Dinwiddie, who was discarded by the Bulls last season after a promising start in the preseason so they could pick up R.J. Hunter, he’s taken advantage of an opportunity with Brooklyn.

“I think for Chicago it was just another series of unfortunate events,” he said. “They were in win-now mode. I was an unproven guard on a non-guaranteed contract and they felt Michael Carter-Williams gave them a better shot to win.”

Michael Jordan's Greatest Moments: 5-1

Michael Jordan's Greatest Moments: 5-1

This is part of a four-part series looking back at the historic career of Michael Jordan and the legacy he left on the game of basketball. It all leads up to Saturday when we unveil his top 5 moments on his 55th birthday. Here are 55-4544-23, and 22-6.

5. Jordan wins fourth title and finishes greatest individual season ever, June 16, 1996

It’s hard to comprehend just how much Jordan accomplished during the 1995-96 season. We’ll try:He won his fourth championship, was named NBA Finals MVP for a record fourth time, won All-Star Game MVP, won a record 72 games, was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team, was the league’s leading scorer and became the Bulls’ all-time leader in games played. So when he dropped a casual 22 points in Game 6, it marked the end of one of the greatest seasons in NBA history. Oh, and Space Jam came out a few months later.
4. Jordan hits six triples, scores 35 points in first half against Blazers, June 3, 1992

During the 1991-92 regular season, Jordan never made more than three 3-pointers in a single game. In fact, the most 3-pointers he had in any two-game stretch that year was four. So when he began burying triple after triple in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, even Jordan couldn’t believe it, giving a shrug toward the NBC announcers as if to say, “I don’t know, either.” Jordan finished the first half with six triples and scored an NBA-record 35 points. The Bulls cruised in the second half, so Jordan finished with only 39, but his shrug remains one of the most iconic NBA Finals moments in history.
3. Jordan battles the flu, scores 38 in Game 5 on his way to fifth title, June 11, 1997

The Flu Game. Jordan was battling a nasty illness in the lead-up to a pivotal Game 5 in Utah, and there were concerns about whether he would even suit up. Hours before tip Jordan got out of bed and made his way to the arena, looking to halt Utah’s momentum after it had taken Games 3 and 4 to tie the series. The Jazz came out red-hot while Jordan looked sluggish, but he responded with 17 points in the second quarter alone to give the Bulls a halftime lead. Jordan then keyed a 10-0 run in the fourth quarter to erase a Jazz lead, and he hit a 3-pointer with 25 seconds left to give the Bulls a three-point lead. The Bulls hung on, and Jordan collapsed into Scottie Pippen’s arms walking off the floor. His final line? 38 points, 13 of 27 shooting, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals. Two days later the Bulls won the title in front of a sellout Chicago crowd.

2. Jordan scores 63 points against Celtics in playoff loss, April 20, 1986

Jordan had just turned 23 years old when he took to the Boston Garden floor to face Larry Bird in his prime and the Celtics. These Celtics had gone 40-1 at home, led the NBA in field goal percentage defense, started FOUR future Hall of Famers and had a fifth come off the bench. They would ultimately go down as one of the all-time greatest teams, and Jordan made them look absolutely silly. He played 50 minutes in the double-overtime thriller, shooting 22 of 41 from the field and making 19 of 21 free throws, including the last two with no time on the clock and the Bulls trailing by two at the end of regulation. He scored 54 in regulation, added five in the first overtime and four in the second. He also led the Bulls with six assists. It still stands as the NBA record for most points in any playoff game. Twenty-three years old. Twenty. Three.

1. Jordan scores 45 in final game with the Bulls, securing sixth championship, June 14, 1998

Jordan’s final game with the Bulls was iconic. Like so many of these moments, die hards know exactly where they were. The 45 points were majestic, and while he only had one rebound and one assist he affected just about every possession on both ends. But what we’ll remember most is the final 37 seconds. Jordan drove to the basket for layup that cut Utah’s lead to one, then stripped Karl Malone from behind on the next trip down. That gave the ball back to the Bulls with 20 seconds left. Jordan let the clock tick down to around 9 seconds before making his move from the left wing, driving right on Bryon Russell, (maybe pushing off) and pulling up for a jumper at the foul line. The shot was good with 5.2 seconds remaining, and John Stockton’s ensuing 3-pointer was off the mark. It gave Jordan and the Bulls their sixth NBA title, and marked the perfect ending to his Bulls career: getting it done on both ends, in the clutch, and finishing with a victory. Because it encapsulated so much of his 14-year career in Chicago, it’s our top Michael Jordan moment.