NBA Mock Draft: Who will Bulls select at No. 7?


NBA Mock Draft: Who will Bulls select at No. 7?

It was exciting watching the lottery for a while, but once the No. 7 envelope revealed the Chicago Bulls logo, the night turned out to be a big disappointment. After winning a tiebreaker with Sacramento for the No. 6 draft position, Bulls’ management could only think about what-if after watching the Kings vault to the second overall pick.

If the Bulls had stayed at seven, would they have owned the lottery combinations that allowed the Kings to make the big jump? I guess we’ll never know, but it added a little extra disappointment to losing one spot in the overall draft order.

With that said, here’s an updated look at how the lottery picks might fall now that the order is locked in.

1. Suns- Deandre Ayton, C, Arizona. This is an ideal scenario for the Suns, who will add the University of Arizona big man to their young nucleus of Devin Booker, Josh Jackson, Elfrid Payton and Marquese Chriss. Ayton will give the young Suns a defensive anchor and a versatile scoring threat. He could eventually be mentioned in the same breath as young NBA star big men Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns.

2. Kings- Marvin Bagley III, PF, Duke. Never underestimate the Kings’ ability to mess things up, but given their need at power forward, it would be a shock if they took anyone but Bagley after their lottery luck moved them up from seventh to second in the draft order. Bagley is a tenacious offensive rebounder with a soft mid-range shooting touch, who averaged 20 points and 11 rebounds as a freshman at Duke.

3. Hawks- Jaren Jackson Jr., PF-C, Michigan St. Moving up one spot in the draft order probably won’t make much difference for the Hawks, who need some size and rim protection in their lineup. Jackson led the Big Ten in blocked shots, and has a nice touch from 3-point range, which should make him an ideal fit for an Atlanta team lacking in size.

4. Grizzlies- Luka Doncic, G-F, Slovenia. So maybe dropping two spots in the draft order isn’t that big of a deal for Memphis. The Grizzlies might have taken the 19-year-old wunderkind at No. 2, and they’ll be thrilled if Doncic is still there at No. 4 to provide a shot creator alongside veterans Mike Conley and Marc Gasol.

5. Mavericks- Michael Porter Jr., F, Missouri. The medical reports on Porter could play a big part in this decision. Dallas will be tempted to take 7-foot center Mo Bamba, but Porter has All-Star potential, and Mark Cuban will be looking for a big name to market after Dirk Nowitzki retires.

6. Magic- Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama. Orlando could go with Bamba as well, considering starting center Nikola Vucevic will be a free agent after next season, and Bismack Biyombo has been a colossal bust, but point guard is the biggest need on their roster, and Sexton has the competitive fire to lead a franchise that’s been sunning itself for years.

7. BULLS- Mikal Bridges, SF, Villanova. When John Paxson described his team’s need for an athletic defensive-minded forward, he was describing Mikal Bridges’ skill set. At 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot-2 wingspan, Bridges can defend at three positions, and his offensive game should blossom at the NBA level. He projects as an ideal fit alongside the Bulls’ three young foundation players, Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn.

8. Cavaliers- Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma. Whether LeBron James stays or goes in free agency the Cavs need to find a long-term answer at the point guard position. Enter Young, who led the nation in scoring and assists despite a poor finish to his freshman season. Plus, James is a big fan of Young’s game, and the Cavs will do anything to try to keep LeBron in Cleveland.

9. Knicks- Mo Bamba, C, Texas. With Enes Kanter a possible free agent this summer and Kristaps Porzingis possibly missing all of next season, the Knicks desperately need to add some size, and Bamba’s 7-foot-9 wingspan certainly fits the bill. Bamba grew up in the New York area, and even though his offensive game is limited, he’d be a great value pick here.

10. 76ers- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky. The young Sixers add another exciting talent in the 6-foot-6 Gilgeous-Alexander, who really came on strong late in his freshman season. Don’t be surprised if this combo guard moves up even higher after individual team workouts.

11. Hornets- Miles Bridges, F, Michigan St. Coming off a couple of disappointing seasons with a new GM and coaching staff in place, change will be the buzzword in Buzz City. Former No. 2 overall pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and free agent addition Nicolas Batum haven’t given the Hornets what they hoped for at the SF position, and Bridges is an explosive athlete with a lot of potential as a scorer.

12. Clippers- Wendell Carter, PF-C, Duke. Carter isn’t the same type of explosive athlete as his Duke frontcourt partner Bagley, but he would provide some needed size for the Clippers in the post-Blake Griffin era.

13. Clippers- Lonnie Walker IV, G, Miami. Another player who should show well in individual workouts after a so-so freshman season at the U. Clippers could use a dynamic shooting guard with Avery Bradley heading into free agency

14. Nuggets- Kevin Knox, F, Kentucky. Denver could lose forwards Will Barton and Wilson Chandler in free agency, so adding a combo forward with scoring potential like Knox seems like the right pick at the end of the lottery.

For Bulls fans wondering what the front office will do with the No. 22 overall pick acquired in the Niko Mirotic trade, well, your guess is as good as mine. The Bulls might bring in 20-25 players to evaluate in that draft range, but assuming they take Mikal Bridges at No. 7, how about going with a European draft and stash candidate like SF’s Dzanan Musa or Rodions Kurucs? If they draft a college player, names to watch include the Duke triumvirate of Grayson Allen, Gary Trent Jr. and Trevon Duval, SF’s Troy Brown and Keita Bates-Diop and big men Mo Wagner, Chimezie Metu and Michael Porter’s younger brother, Jontay.

Draft night highlighted the unfulfilling feeling of this past Bulls season

Draft night highlighted the unfulfilling feeling of this past Bulls season

The door has officially been closed on the 2017-18 season for the Chicago Bulls, and the word that most comes to mind is “unfulfilling.”

Or maybe even “indistinguishable.”

Draft night was supposed to be a culmination of a painful seven-month stretch that only had occasional yet costly moments of light.

Death lineup? Meet Death March. And Death April, while we’re at it.

The Bulls brass sold everyone on a full rebuild after trading Jimmy Butler one year ago, with an unspoken promise that this draft would bear franchise-changing fruit—hence the general feeling of angst or even indifference with the solid selection of Wendell Carter Jr. and their not-so-secret affection of Chandler Hutchison.

It was why fans believe the Bulls got cold feet about trading to move up, and why they believe the Bulls weren’t being pragmatic in staying away from Michael Porter Jr.

Porter, some believe, has star written all over him given his prep ranking this time last year and the Bulls were in position to speed up this process without having to go into a painful Process.

They were desperate for a star, believing the tankathon had produced so much suffering it had to be something on the back end.

There was the fight (or the punch).

The aftermath.

The miserable 3-20 start.

The 14-7 streak that produced the audacity of hope.

The reality that 14-7 was damaging enough to the lottery chances that a 3-11 finish couldn’t rectify.

And finally, the coin flip that cost them five spots in the lottery one month ago.

So that empty feeling has less to do with Carter and Hutchison, who’ve done nothing to earn the “blah” reaction from the fan base and some media. It has everything to do with the unanswered questions over the last 82 games and lack of clarity over the three hauls from draft night last year.

It’s not that Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn underperformed individually last season, but the lack of cohesiveness due to injuries and circumstances has led to the varying thoughts.

LaVine is approaching restricted free agency and by all accounts is taking his continuing rehab in Washington very seriously.  Markkanen has added plenty of muscle since the offseason began, appearing as if he can play Michael B. Jordan’s in-ring foil in the next installation of “Creed” as Ivan Drago’s long lost son.

And despite the report about Dunn not working as hard on the floor this offseason, that would be more of a concern if this were late August, not June.

The last time they were seen together on the floor, they looked no closer to a pecking order than the day they arrived.

What we know is that they’re productive NBA players, capable of putting an individual tattoo on a game at a moment’s notice, skillful enough to take your breath away.

And for whatever reason, the expectations changed once the three displayed they could be dynamic on their own—a star needed to be anointed and groomed to go with the star they believed was coming their way after the season.

Management is fully behind Markkanen, but Paxson’s strong words about LaVine at the season-ending news conference illustrated how much it feels LaVine has to prove next season.

With his restricted free agency status looming, the Bulls’ initial offer will show how much they value him until and if he gets a better deal on the market.

And the fact the Bulls weren’t afraid to draft Trae Young while having a healthy debate about Collin Sexton on draft night has to show they have at least some skepticism about the future at point guard.

But stars—developing stars, acquired stars, drafted stars—have to do it on their own. No amount of promotion or prodding from management will validate their faith, if that’s the route the Bulls choose to go.

This has to be a meritocracy or it won’t work and, honestly, it’s time for a reality check.

All the worry about the Bulls getting back to title contention sooner rather than later seems like folks getting ahead of themselves.

The front office has taken its share of shots from media and fans, so some questioning is earned but they’re right about one thing. Rebuilds aren’t completed in a day or 12 months.

Expecting some magic potion to arrive in the form of a top draft pick isn’t going to cure what ills this roster, and it doesn’t seem likely all the cap space will result in a free agent choosing the Bulls over the usual suspects.

However, methodical building can look like complacency if not done with a sense of urgency.

And with urgency in mind, this past season was unsatisfying to say the least—heading into the next phase with two more young pieces to develop while the first three are still in the evaluation stage.

Loyola's March Madness hero Donte Ingram will play with Bulls' Summer League team

Loyola's March Madness hero Donte Ingram will play with Bulls' Summer League team

Donte Ingram's 2018 keeps getting better and better.

The March Madness hero, who buried a game-winning 3-pointer in the first round of Loyola's win over Miami, will play on the Bulls' Summer League team.

Ingram, a Simeon Academy graduate, had himself an incredible senior season with the Ramblers, who advanced all the way to the Final Four as a No. 11 seed.

In five NCAA Tournament games Ingram averaged 7.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists for the Ramblers. He also had 18 points in the MVC Conference Championship Game to secure the Ramblers' March Madness berth.

He'll join first-round draft picks Wendell Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison on the Las Vegas Summer League team, which will begin play early next month.