Bulls Insider

Bulls interview top prospects at NBA Draft Combine

/ by K.C. Johnson
Presented By Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich
Bulls Insider

The Chicago Bulls don’t currently own a pick in the June 22 NBA Draft, but that hasn’t stopped management from working as if it might.

Speaking at the NBA Draft Combine Wednesday, top prospects Brandon Miller, Nick Smith Jr., Cason Wallace and Anthony Black all said they met with the Bulls.

Such meetings are certainly part of the due diligence process. They can provide organizational intel for either the draft or perhaps a trade or free-agency decision down the road.

But it’s at least intriguing that so many projected lottery picks---and in the case of Alabama forward Miller, an extremely high lottery pick---represented the Bulls’ focus.

“It was all good vibes. It was just to see where my headspace is at, kind of about my life, how I grew up,” Miller said of his meeting. “I think it’s more about the bond, just talking to somebody. The bond is the most important thing with anything in anybody’s career. I think you should always build a bond and trust somebody, so you know what you’re walking into.”

Wallace, a combo guard out of Kentucky, also used the phrase “good vibes” to describe his meeting. So while the Bulls may not currently own a draft pick, they do own plenty of good vibe meetings.

“It was cool,” said Wallace, whose on-ball defense has drawn some pre-draft comps to Milwaukee Bucks’ All-Star guard Jrue Holiday. “We had time to laugh, be serious. Great people.”


Here are some other tidbits from the first day of media availability from the combine:

---Smith Jr., the Arkansas guard who possesses strong offensive potential, revealed that he studies part of DeMar DeRozan’s game.

“His footwork is very elite. I feel I can get my feet to how he is---not right now but throughout the years,” Smith Jr. said. “The way he can pull off a jumpshot with one or two dribbles. How he uses his hands, ball placement, all that stuff. It’s like a Kobe (Bryant) vibe.

Smith Jr. will be working out at Klutch Sports Group’s Pro Day in Los Angeles on May 25, which the Bulls are planning to attend.

---Victor Wembanyama isn’t at the combine because he’s finishing his professional season in France. But the French teenage sensation still hovered over the entire process, including drawing some intriguing responses from other top prospects about his presumptive No. 1 selection.

Scott Henderson, who either will be the second or third pick, interrupted a question about Wembanyama being “an otherworldly talent.”

“I’m a worldly talent too,” Henderson said.

After mild laughter subsided, Henderson offered Wembanyama his flowers.

“I think Wemby is a great player. He’s 7-whatever with a flamethrower,” Henderson said, citing Wembanyama’s height and shooting ability. “That speaks a lot about how he can stretch the floor.”

Miller agreed.

“He’s an animal. I would give (the No. 1 pick) to him---7-5 with an 8-foot wingspan. Can’t really beat that out,” he said. “He has guard skills. I don’t knock him. I respect him. I would love to meet him.”

Smith Jr. struck a similarly competitive chord as Henderson originally did.

“It’s no different from Brandon Miller or the dude across from me doing interviews. I take the game as seriously as anybody who steps on the floor. If I play against him, I’m going to try to win the game,” Smith Jr. said of Wembanyama. “So that’s going to be that.”

---Henderson emerged as a supremely poised and confident prospect, even talking about impacting whatever community he lands in during his off-court time.

When asked which skill he believes will most readily translate to the NBA, he didn’t cite the speed and playmaking that has scouts intrigued---and could solve the Bulls’ point guard issue if they somehow traded into a high lottery pick.

But his answer still said plenty.

“My dawg and how much a competitor I am and how I fear nobody. I think that’s definitely going to translate,” Henderson said. “How I really don’t care that I’m young going into it. I’m going to try to make a name for myself immediately and make an impact on winning for wherever I go to immediately.”

Click here to follow the Bulls Talk Podcast.