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DiVincenzo, Holiday, Hutchinson: Five options for the Bulls at No. 22

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USA TODAY

DiVincenzo, Holiday, Hutchinson: Five options for the Bulls at No. 22

Pick No. 7 is clearly the big draw for the Bulls when the 2018 NBA Draft begins next week. A top-10 lottery pick in a deep draft like this means a potential All-Star if the right player falls out of the top 5.

But pick No. 22 in the first round is also an important piece for the franchise's future. It's possible that pick No. 22 is packaged with something else in a trade on, or before, draft night. If the Bulls opt to keep the pick, however, they should have an intriguing group of players to pick from in a deep draft.

And with pick No. 22 holding a very favorable cap number on the NBA's rookie pay scale, hitting correctly on that pick could accelerate the Bulls rebuild while making the franchise a more attractive option for potential free agents.

Here's a look at five players the Bulls should be targeting at No. 22.

These five players were selected based on the probability of being available at pick No. 22 while also being a need and/or good fit for Fred Hoiberg's system. Also be sure to check out five players the Bulls should avoid at No. 22.

Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Villanova: After a monster NCAA tournament in which he helped Villanova capture the national championship, the 6-foot-5 DiVincenzo became one of the darlings of the NBA Draft Combine by showcasing versatility, a competitive edge and a combine-leading 42-inch max vertical.

Possessing deep range on his jumper and the ability to play multiple perimeter spots, DiVincenzo's toughness, skill level and potential two-way ability have made him a virtual lock first rounder. Some mock drafts even have him in the late teens. If DiVincenzo falls to the Bulls at No. 22, they shouldn't be afraid to snatch him up. It also doesn't hurt that DiVincenzo worked out with former Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich before the Combine, as Hinrich gave the Villanova product some strong reviews.

Keita Bates-Diop, SF, Ohio State: The former Buckeye will have some local name recognition as he thrived during his high school career at downstate Normal U-High and with the famed Illinois Wolves AAU program. A bit of a late bloomer, in part because of injuries suffered at Ohio State, Bates-Diop eventually became the Big Ten Player of the Year by showing impressive potential as a two-way forward.

At 6-foot-7 with a ridiculous 7-foot-2 wingspan, Bates-Diop passes the look test. He also improved his perimeter jumper (35.9 percent from deep) and overall ball skills during his college career. Not many draft prospects averaged over a block per game (1.6 bpg) while shooting as well from the perimeter as Bates-Diop has. Bates-Diop is especially enticing as a draft prospect because of his ability to play as a four or a five in small-ball lineups.

Troy Brown Jr., SG, Oregon: Most of the players on this list are college veterans. Brown opted to be a one-and-done after an up-and-down freshman campaign with the Ducks. Luckily for Brown, he has been on the NBA radar since he dominated high school seniors, including Jalen Brunson, at the LeBron James Skills Academy when he was only 14 years old.

One of the youngest players in the draft (he turns 19 in late July) the Las Vegas native can play multiple spots on the floor. At 6-foot-7, Brown is a converted former point guard who eventually found his calling on the wing. Capable of doing all of the little things, Brown rebounds, provides secondary ball handling and can operate with the ball in his hands out of high ball screens. Perimeter shooting and adding strength are the two major long-term questions for Brown. But he's a high-character person with a strong work ethic who should carve out a long career in the NBA.

Aaron Holiday, G, UCLA: This potential pick would already have ties to the Bulls as Aaron's older brother, Justin, is currently on the roster. After three stellar seasons with the Bruins, Aaron is now hoping to become the third Holiday brother in the NBA (brother Jrue is with the Pelicans).

Smaller than his older brothers at 6-foot-1, Aaron makes up for his smaller size at the point with an absurd 6-foot-7.5 wingspan that enables him to play bigger on the defensive end. A talented perimeter shooter who never shot below 41 percent from 3-point range during his three years in Westwood, Holiday has shown that he can run a team on the ball or play as a shooter off of the ball. It should also be pointed out that Holiday was a selfless teammates at UCLA. Opting to come off the bench his sophomore season so Lonzo Ball could start, Holiday was great as both a starter and a sixth man during his college career.

Chandler Hutchison, SF, Boise State: The Bulls have already been linked to Hutchison during the NBA Draft process as he would be a natural fit on the wing. A classic late bloomer who developed during his final two seasons at Boise State, the 6-foot-7 Hutchison sports a solid 7-foot wingspan to go along with a much-improved scoring package.

Previously a mediocre perimeter shooter, Hutchison worked hard to become more consistent from distance his final two seasons with the Broncos. A fluid athlete who should also be able to grow into a solid perimeter defender, Hutchison is one of the more NBA-ready prospects who should available in the No. 22 range.

B/R names Zach LaVine as one of the NBA’s most overhyped players ahead of the 2018-19 season

B/R names Zach LaVine as one of the NBA’s most overhyped players ahead of the 2018-19 season

Bleacher Report named Zach LaVine as one of the NBA’s most overhyped players ahead of the 2018-19 season. The list included five players whose expectations have exceeded what author Grant Hughes, felt is realistic for this upcoming season. It is not entirely shocking for LaVine to make this list, and his defense was the main reason he was included. But the potential for his offensive output to get even better was somewhat overlooked. 

Per Hughes:

In 2016-17, he ranked 441st out of 468 players in ESPN's defensive real plus-minus metric. Last year, he was 490th out of 521. According to Basketball Reference, he's never posted a defensive box plus-minus in positive territory. He topped out at minus-2.0 in his abbreviated 2017-18 season.....It's hard to justify rotation minutes for a player like that, let alone $78 million.

Hughes’ critique is harsh, but based off of statistics that are hard to argue with. LaVine has indeed been one of the worst defenders in the league for the entirety of his NBA career, and his netting of the $78 million falls hand-in-hand with Jabari Parker’s comments on players not being paid to play defense. But for the Bulls to take the leap from lottery-to-playoff contender, at least a league-average D will have to be cobbled together. But that responsibility will not fall solely on his shoulders, and that is why I am skeptical on the idea of LaVine being “overhyped”. 

The post goes on to elaborate that even if LaVine was to recapture the magic of his solid 2016-17 season, he still would be a player who gives up more points on defense than he gets his team on offense. That is a strong possibility, but with the addition of Wendell Carter Jr. as another rim protector, capable of at least providing a hard hedge (if not an outright switch), there is a possibility that LaVine becomes a more aggressive defender out on the perimeter. But that is unlikely, and a much more realistic outcome is LaVine’s offensive value surpassing what is expected.

LaVine’s strength last season was his ability to get to the free throw line. Despite coming off a major ACL injury, he was able to get 4.5 free throw attempts per game, a mark that would’ve had him sandwiched between players like Kyrie Irving and Victor Oladipo had he qualified (LaVine only played in 24 games). It was the highest free throw attempt rate of his career, and assuming he expands on that in a year where he should be completely healthy, he will be one of the best in the league at getting to the line. 

His efficiency will be helped by players like Parker and Lauri Markkanen, who will draw attention off of him. LaVine’s 3-point percentage last season was 34 percent, a number that was more of a reflection of that fact that he was still working his way back into game shape. That 3-point percentage will soon trend more towards the 38 percent mark he shot the previous two seasons. And his 3-point attempts were also down, another mark that is sure to trend upwards, especially with Parker’s inclusion as a scorer who does most of his half-court work in the mid-post area. 

The way the 2018-19 Bulls are built, there is little behind Kris Dunn in the way of a reliable backup point guard, though there is belief internally that Cam Payne can develop into that player. But there is a strong possibility that LaVine will be used as a backup point guard to free up minutes for one of Justin Holiday, Denzel Valentine or Chandler Hutchison. And in his rookie year, playing point guard, LaVine had an assist rate of 24 percent, but also an incredibly high turnover percentage. Since making the full-time switch to shooting guard, he has not posted a turnover rate above 10 percent. So, if he can adjust to the fact that there are other players capable of scoring 20 points on the floor—like he did in Minnesota—it is entirely possible for LaVine to be a player capable of getting you 20 points and five assists per game while scoring efficiently and avoiding turnovers. Even if his defense continues to be dreadful, a player who can keep the offense running well from either guard spot is definitely valuable in today’s league. 

In his last season with Minnesota, LaVine had a usage rate of 21.7 percent, a number much lower than his extremely high 29.5 usage rate last season with the Bulls. And while many think of LaVine as a high-volume shooter, his usage rate last year was likely a result of him forcing the issue to try to prove he was worth a significant investment. With his shiny, new contract in tow, LaVine should be focused on making the team better, and get one step closer to his Timberwolves self. On that squad, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins each scored 20+ points per game, while LaVine was averaging 18.9 points per game. And the team finished in the top 10 in the NBA in offensive rating.

It is not crazy to think the Bulls could have their own high-scoring trio in LaVine, Markkanen and Parker. And if that is the case, then the expectation is for LaVine to be a efficient scorer who can occasionally spot the open man. Hyped? Yes. But overhyped? No one is banking on him being an All-Star, though it remains in the realm of possibility. The idea that he is overhyped is based on the fact his new contract is $78 million and he is poor at defense, but this is overlooking the fact that LaVine has proven he is a player capable of having a large role on a top-10 offense. September 30 can’t get here fast enough.  

Fun with tall people: Lauri Markkanen takes photo with Yao Ming and looks short

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USA TODAY

Fun with tall people: Lauri Markkanen takes photo with Yao Ming and looks short

Lauri Markkanen doesn't often feel short.

The Bulls forward is 7-feet tall, which even in the land of NBA giants makes him one of the tallest players on the court at all times. So when Markkanen stands next to Yao Ming, it changes perspective quite a bit.

Markkanen posted a photo with him and the 7-foot-6 Chinese Hall of Famer. Markkanen looks like a child.

Makes you wonder if Markkanen pulled some "What's the weather like up there?" jokes just because he otherwise never can.