The Bulls weren’t able to replicate their Lottery success from a decade ago and will select seventh in next month’s NBA Draft. The Bulls entered Tuesday night’s drawing at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago with a 5.3 percent chance at the first pick and an 18.3 percent chance at a top 3 pick, tied for the sixth best odds in the league.
But the balls didn’t bounce the right way and instead the Bulls will move back a spot from where they were at the beginning of the evening. It’s a disappointing finish, all things considered, for a team that began the year 3-20, traded its leading scorer and saw its remaining three leading scorers miss a combined 102 games.
Still, the Bulls picking seventh marks the highest they’ve selected since a year ago. They drafted Lauri Markkanen with the 7th pick in last year’s draft after dealing Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves.
The Bulls will also pick 22nd overall with the draft choice they acquired in the Nikola Mirotic trade in February. The Bulls have not selected and kept two players in the first round since 2011, when they left that draft with Nikola Mirotic and Jimmy Butler.
There appears to be two consensus top-3 picks in Arizona center Deandre Ayton and Slovenian guard Luka Doncic. Assuming both players are gone, the Bulls will still have their pick of players such as Missouri forward Michael Porter Jr., Michigan State center Jaren Jackson, Duke’s Marvin Bagley, Texas center Mo Bamba, Villanova wing Mikal Bridges and Oklahoma point guard Trae Young.
At his end-of-the-year press conference in April, John Paxson said the Bulls would likely look at a wing with their first pick. He said the Bulls felt comfortable with their depth at point guard in Kris Dunn and Cameron Payne, and both Lauri Markkanen and Bobby Portis look like foundation pieces for the future.
“I think we need to look at the wing position. That would be an ideal spot. Size and length at the wing as a shooting component, a defensive component, would be something that, if you’re looking at an area we would like to improve, that would be it,” Paxson said.
But Paxson also added that “it’s hard to overlook talent even when you’re looking at a specific need.” The Bulls are a month removed from a 27-win season and don’t exactly have a surplus of talent past Markkanen, Dunn, Portis and Zach LaVine. Taking the best player available is always a winning move, especially that high in the draft.
The Bulls could also trade up using that 22nd overall pick, though a pick that late in the round doesn’t hold as much value in a league where top-tiered talent reigns supreme. Trading down is an option, perhaps with a team like the Clippers, who hold the 12th and 13th picks.