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.