The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor updated his 2020 NBA Mock Draft Tuesday morning. With it came a change in the Bulls' selection.
Previous editions had the Bulls selecting Killian Hayes, the rangy 6-foot-5 lead guard who played last season for Ratiopharm Ulm of the German Bundesliga. This iteration had Hayes slipping to the New York Knicks at No. 8 and LaMelo Ball falling to the Bulls after the Charlotte Hornets traded up to No. 1 to nab James Wiseman, the Golden State Warriors took Anthony Edwards at No. 2 and the Minnesota Timberwolves landed Deni Avdija at No. 3.
But the devil is in the details. Here's what O'Connor said about a world where the Bulls take Ball:
Indeed, playmaking is an area the Bulls should look to improve this offseason. Despite boasting a good amount of individual scoring talent on the roster, the team finished the 2019-20 season 29th in offensive rating, 26th in turnover rate and 20th in assist rate.
Factoring into those figures was an offensive system that lacked nuance, persistent injuries and sporadic outside shooting. And from a personnel perspective, missing was a dynamic table-setter with the ability to consistently break down opposing defenses and create for others. In fact, that's been missing since the outset of the rebuild.
Armed with the No. 4 pick, Artūras Karnišovas and the rest of the new-look front office are in a position to try and change that come draft time. Hayes and Ball are attractive options at the point guard spot, as is Iowa State guard — and consummate glue guy — Tyrese Haliburton. All three boast advanced passing chops, positional size and varied scoring potential. Israeli forward Deni Avdija, a popular mock draft target of the Bulls, has the potential to blossom into the quintessential playmaking wing for the modern NBA.
All of which is to say, global impact as an offensive creator can come in many forms in this day and age. The Bulls pursuing "lead playmaking" help could come in the form of a traditional point guard (Ball/Hayes), multi-positional ball handler (Haliburton) or tools-y wing (Avdija). Malleability is a consistent trend between the four, and was a trend of the Denver Nuggets teams Karnišovas helped construct.
Could selecting someone closer to the traditional point guard end of the spectrum be a window into the new regime's evaluation of the long-term viability of a Coby White-Zach LaVine starting backcourt? Of course. Both White and LaVine are committed to improving as playmakers, but the results weren't consistent in that department last season amid unideal circumstances. Both are also tremendous scorers that would undoubtedly benefit running alongside a plus facilitator.
Nothing is certain until draft night. But enough smoke is building that the Bulls are focused on improving their playmaking — possibly at the guard spot — leading into the offseason that it should be taken seriously.