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

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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.

Bulls defense costs them late but showing 'competitive spirit' a step in right direction

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Bulls defense costs them late but showing 'competitive spirit' a step in right direction

The Bulls defense is nowhere near where it needs to be, and it cost them dearly on Saturday night. But in a season that’s still about seeing progression both individually and collectively, the Bulls took a step in the right direction with their effort and what Fred Hoiberg called “competitive spirit.”

That won’t change the standings when they wake up Sunday morning, now facing an 0-2 hole in the early season. And while better effort and tougher defense helped them stage a second-half comeback they weren’t able to manage on Thursday, it was a defensive miscue that cost them the game.

Ish Smith split a double screen at the top of the key and sliced his way past Jabari Parker for a wide open go-ahead layup with 5.4 seconds left. Zach LaVine, who 20 seconds earlier had tied the game with the last of his 33 points, was unable to get a shot off after a timeout. Better than Thursday for 47 minutes and 50 seconds. But still costing them when it mattered most.

“We can’t give up a layup for the last play,” said LaVine, who was guarding Smith. “We just got to get our defense right. That’s why it’s really upsetting because we played so well, we came back but we can’t give up a layup. We at least have to make him take a tough one. That was as easy a layup as you can get. It’s really upsetting.”

Fred Hoiberg defended his decision to leave Parker in the game instead of inserting rookie Wendell Carter Jr. He opted to ride the group that helped the Bulls erase a fourth-quarter deficit when it appeared the Bulls were spiraling toward another double-digit loss.

But the Pistons were ready to find the weak link in the Bulls defense and expose it, like they did much of the fourth quarter while attacking Parker with Blake Griffin. As the screen was set Parker jumped outside to cut off Smith, who then made a cut inward and made a dash to the rim. Parker was a couple steps late, allowing the 5-foot-9 Smith to score with ease to give the Pistons their lead and the eventual game-winner.

Bobby Portis, whose shot wasn’t falling but played admirable defense against a talent like Griffin, was on the other side of the double screen and didn’t have a great view of the play. But he said allowing a layup with the game on the line is inexcusable.

“It’s a tough play but at the same time you don’t want to give up a layup at the end of the game,” he said. “You want to make him take a tough shot. That’s something we’ve got to work on, is late game execution on defense.”

But again, it’s about baby steps. The Bulls will want that final possession back, and Hoiberg might also want it back after leaving Parker in the game over Carter. But from where the Bulls were on Thursday, this was better. Granted, allowing 118 points and 18 3-pointers to the Pistons isn’t a recipe for success, it’s improvement nonetheless. Detroit got a career-high five triples from Griffin, four from Reggie Jackson (a career 32 percent 3-point shooter) and a pair from Stnaley Johnson (a career 29 percent 3-point shooter). The Bulls will be able to live with some of those makes.

On Thursday the Bulls trailed by just six early in the third quarter before the Sixers ripped off a 19-3 run to put the game out of reach. On Saturday the Pistons got out to a six-point lead on two different occasions, and then a seven-point lead with just 2:01 to play. All three times the Bulls came roaring back, using timely spots and clutch baskets from LaVine, Park and even Cameron Payne, who tied a career-high with 17 points.

Ultimately it wasn’t enough, but it’s a positive sign that they were able to battle back and show some fight defensively. They’ll certainly need that when they travel to Dallas to take on a Mavericks team that scored 140 points on the Jimmy Butler-less Timberwolves on Saturday. They should get Dunn back, which will help,  and now have a close contest under their belt on which to build. It didn’t result in a win, and the late-game cross-up was the cause, but the Bulls finished Saturday in a much better place than they were in on Thursday.

“Yeah but obviously we want to get the win. I feel like we fought hard,” Portis said. “Even when adversity hit everybody stuck together. We did our thing tonight. You want to win the game but I felt like we did our job tonight. We just gave up a bad play at the end of the game.”

Denzel Valentine suffers setback on injured left ankle, will be reevaluated in 2 weeks

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Denzel Valentine suffers setback on injured left ankle, will be reevaluated in 2 weeks

Denzel Valentine’s troublesome left ankle is going to keep him on the sideline for at least the next two weeks. Fred Hoiberg said Saturday before the Bulls’ home opener against the Detroit Pistons that Valentine is suffering from a bone bruise in the ankle he sprained on the second day of training camp. Valentine will be evaluated in two weeks.

“It sucks because of all the work I put in this summer and being around the guys you want to be out there so bad,” he said. “Things happen for a reason, and now that we know what’s going on I at least have a time frame and be patient with it; it’s bad news but good news at the same time as it gives me time to get ready.”

Valentine had been practicing earlier in the week and appeared close to a return after spraining the ankle on Sept. 25. But the third year wing complained of discomfort in the ankle and missed practice on Friday. A scan of the left ankle revealed the bone bruise, and Hoiberg wouldn’t speculate on when exactly Valentine might return.

It’s the same ankle Valentine had surgery on in May 2017. Valentine also missed the last two weeks of last season after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery. The injury couldn’t come at a worse time for Valentine or the Bulls, who are in desparate need of help both in the backcourt and on the wing.

Though Valentine isn’t a true point guard, he averaged 3.2 assists per game off the bench last season. The Bulls could use that kind of production when Kris Dunn returns on Monday, as Cameron Payne and Ryan Arcidiacono haven’t exactly showed promise in the early going.

Instead, Valentine is on the mend and it’s unclear when he might return. Given he’s had surgery on the same ankle before, the Bulls will be cautious upon his return.

“I’m a fighter, I’m not going to quit; just deal with the hand dealt," Valentine said. "I can’t sit here and be negative, I just got to fight, stay mentally strong and this will be bittersweet when I come back and have a great year.”