The 2021 NBA Draft is just around the corner.
And while the Bulls won’t have a first-round pick this year by way of the trade deadline day deal for Nikola Vučević, the team does have a second-round selection with which to work.
Because of a pick swap acquired from the New Orleans Pelicans, that pick landed No. 38 overall after June’s lottery, positioning the front office to swing for a contributor early in the draft’s latter round.
Can Artūras Karnišovas work his late-draft magic again? Here’s who experts are mocking to the Bulls with their second-round pick with just a week until draft night:
Jonathan Givony (ESPN)
Juhann Begarin: SG, Paris Basketball
Begarin is a solid-sized wing (6-foot-5, 7-foot wingspan) with a raw but intriguing skill set. He has the tools to turn his flashes as a driver, above-the-rim finisher and defender into something sustainable, but that appears more projection-based than proven at this point.
The good news: Begarin’s production bumped from his 2019-20 to 2020-21 season with Paris Basketball, a club in LNB Pro B, a second-tier league in France. He averaged 11.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.4 steals while shooting a promising 36.4 percent from 3-point range across 33 league games. Still 18, he’s one of the youngest prospects in the class.
Jeremy Woo (Sports Illustrated)
A.J. Lawson: SG, South Carolina
Lawson’s college production is nothing to sniff at; as a junior, he averaged 16.6 points to lead the Gamecocks in scoring and shot 35.1 percent from behind the arc on a high-difficulty 8 attempts per contest.
At the next level, he probably profiles as an off-the-ball shooter and slasher with some positional versatility given his, albeit wiry, 6-foot-7 frame (in shoes). He showed ability in both those areas at South Carolina. And encouragingly, Lawson stood out during the scrimmage portion of the NBA Draft Combine, posting 17 points (4-for-10 from 3), 7 rebounds, 7 assists and 4 steals in one contest.
Jonathan Wasserman (Bleacher Report)
Charles Bassey: C, Western Kentucky
Bassey, who measured 6-foot-10 with a 7-3 wingspan at the combine, has become a trendy second-round name because of his physical tools and obviously applicable skill set. At worst, he should be able to run the floor, finish above the rim and shot-block at a level on par with a backup big. At best, he augments those attributes by improving his mobility and outside shot (30.5 percent on 59 attempts in 2020-21) and becomes something more.
The 2020-21 Conference USA Player of the Year posted eye-popping averages of 17.6 points, 11.6 rebounds and 3.1 blocks (fourth in the nation) while shooting 59 percent from the floor last season. While not as tidy a fit for the Bulls, who sorely need wing depth, as others, he’s an interesting flyer.
Sam Vecenie (The Athletic)
Day’Ron Sharpe: C, North Carolina
Another front court option. Sharpe is different than Bassey in that his wingspan measures out a bit shorter and his finishing (he shot 51.9 percent from the floor at UNC) isn’t as refined, but he’s a great rebounder with a high motor that flashed ability as a passer as a freshman.
One notable downside: Sharpe attempted just two 3-pointers and shot 50.5 percent from the free-throw line in 2020-21, which may need to improve to carve out an NBA role.
Josh Christopher: G, Arizona State
Most mocks peg Christopher, a rather exciting scoring guard with good size (6-foot-4.5 in shoes), as a late-first to early-second-round selection, so he could fall near the Bulls’ range.
Though his efficiency (43.2 percent shooting from the field, 30.5 percent from 3 across 15 games) left something to be desired, Christopher proved himself a viable shot-creator from most spots on the floor and had nice moments defensively (averaging 1.5 steals) as a freshman. Even if not a slam dunk to contribute positively out of the gate, the 19-year-old’s plus athleticism, scoring prowess and two-way potential make for an intriguing pick.