Good morning. It’s officially lottery week.
For Bulls fans, that date holding significance is becoming a familiar refrain. For the fourth consecutive year, the team will draw its first-round pick from the top 14. Likely, it will be its fourth consecutive year in the top 10, as well.
Will it be a fourth consecutive year selecting at exactly No. 7? There’s an 80.3 percent chance of the answer to that being no — though something about that slot will forever feel preordained.
Wherever the Bulls land, new executive vice president Artūras Karnišovas believes the team will find itself a contributor, even in a draft many consider weak.
“I like a lot of players that are in our range,” Karnišovas said at his end-of-season press conference. “I think we’ve done a lot of work studying. That’s why the excitement is coming from studying those players and interviewing them and looking at the video. So I think we’ll add a good player to our roster next year.”
So, with four days until the league’s virtual lottery on Aug. 20, let’s take a gander around the interwebs to see who’s being mocked to the Bulls.
As a reminder: The Bulls own a 7.5 percent chance of winning the No. 1 pick, a 32 percent chance of vaulting into the top four and a 19.7 percent chance of staying put at No. 7. They also own the Washington Wizards’ second-round pick (No. 47 overall) from the Tomáš Satoranský sign-and-trade last summer.
No. 7: Isaac Okoro, F, Auburn
Okoro has been a popular mock target for the Bulls, and it’s easy to reason why. At 6-foot-6 (6-8 ½-inch wingspan), he’s a tenacious on-ball defender packed into an explosively athletic, NBA-ready body. From day one, he’ll toggle 1 - 4 on the defensive end, and would fill a glaring need for the Bulls, who’ve been parched for wing depth the entire rebuild. If the team moves on from Otto Porter Jr. after the final year of his current deal, and Chandler Hutchison’s development continues to be stymied by injury, Okoro could represent a long-term solution.
The jumper needs work (28.6% 3P, 67.2% FT in his freshman year), but his bounce and supreme cutting and finishing ability — Okoro shot 60.7% on 2-pointers, and 67.8% at the rim at Auburn — should buoy him on the offensive end, especially in a complementary role. He’s a realistic option if the Bulls’ pick holds steady in the No. 7 range.
No. 47: Abdoulaye N’Doye, G, Cholet
The 22-year-old out of Cholet (France) averaged 10.1 points. 4.2 rebounds and four assists in 2019-20, and shot well on low volume. At 6-foot-7, he boasts fantastic positional size, and potential as a pick-and-roll playmaker and perimeter defender. An intriguing draft-and-stash candidate.
No. 7: Isaac Okoro, F, Auburn
No. 7: Isaac Okoro, F, Auburn
No. 47: Tre Jones, G, Duke
This would be a fairly precipitous slip from where Jones has appeared in past mocks (mostly late-first, sometimes early-second). In his second season starting at Duke, he won ACC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, averaged 16.2 points and 6.4 assists, and canned 36.1% of his looks from 3-point range. If he’s somehow available this deep in the second round, he’d be a tremendous value play, especially if Kris Dunn doesn’t return.
No. 9: Devin Vassell, F, Florida State
Vassell is another 3-and-D prototype wing the Bulls could target should their selection fall in the latter part of the top 10. He’s not quite the athlete Okoro is, but is a tad longer — which bolsters his exceptional abilities hunting passing lanes and shot-swatting opportunities — and a more proven outside shooter (41.5% 3P, 3.5 attempts per game in his sophomore year at Florida State).
The tools he possesses as a team defender combined with his outside shooting (assuming it translates) will make him an NBA contributor on Day 1. If he lands in Chicago, he’d warrant “small forward of the future” consideration.
No. 47: Grant Riller, G, College of Charleston
Riller is a fast-riser up draft boards aplenty for his scoring prowess — he averaged 21.9 points on 49.9% field goal shooting (36.2% from 3) in his senior season at the College of Charleston.
Though he’ll be dinged for strength of competition, his sublime first step, driving and finishing ability, and eye-popping 0.47 free throw rate in 2019-20 could make him an intriguing proposition for teams in need of a spark plug. The Bulls would welcome any such injection of life on the offensive end.
No. 7: James Wiseman, C, Memphis
Wiseman is an enigma at the top of this draft. In theory, he’s an uber-athletic, shot-blocking, rim-running 7-footer with the potential to expand his offensive game towards the 3-point arc. He has all the tools to be a difference-maker at the center spot in the modern era.
But he played just three games at Memphis his freshman season, and though the numbers are gaudy, those can be at least partially attributed to a cupcake early-campaign schedule. If he’s there at No. 7, the best-prospect-available potential might be too enticing to pass up, even for a Bulls team that already has Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. manning the frontcourt. Still, there are greater areas of need.
No. 47: Ashton Hagans, G, Kentucky
A defensive-minded guard from a blue-blood program. While not a reliable shooter, Hagans averaged 6.4 assists and 1.8 steals per game in his second year at Kentucky.
No. 8: Deni Avdija, F, Maccabi Tel Aviv
Selecting Avdija would be quite the splash for a Bulls team in need of help on the wing. His passing ability (especially out of the post) and grace on the fastbreak are tantalizing, especially for a player of his 6-foot-9 build.
His swing skill at the NBA level will be his shooting. Though Avdija’s 3-point accuracy improved over the course of his season with Maccabi Tel Aviv, especially after the COVID-19 hiatus, still-spotty mechanics at times and a paltry free-throw success rate cast doubt. His position (small forward? Power forward? Point forward?) at the NBA level is also a question, especially defensively. But his playmaking is advanced and the handle is coming along. By all accounts, he’s a voracious learner and thinker of the game. Avdija could be special.
No. 7: Deni Avdija, F, Maccabi Tel Aviv
Tyrese Haliburton, G, Iowa State
Killian Hayes, G, Ulm
Onyeka Okongwu, F/C, USC
Elijah Hughes, F, Syracuse
Jay Scrubb, G, John A. Logan College (JUCO)
Paul Reed, F, DePaul