The Bulls had an injury-plagued 22-win campaign that resulted in them earning the No. 7 pick in next month's NBA Draft.
Here's a look at the areas the Bulls struggled in and where each of the top 8 prospects in the NBA Draft would be able to make them better in the future.
1. Zion Williamson, PF, Duke
The Bulls stat: 22 wins
Where he helps: Let’s keep this one simple. Williamson would turn the Bulls into an instant playoff contender and have a direct impact on winning on a nightly basis. He’s a freak of nature and a can’t-miss prospect. Now wipe those tears away and let’s move on.
2. Ja Morant, PG, Murray State
The Bulls stat: 280.0 passes per game
Where he helps: Playing slow doesn’t always mean the ball has to stop moving. Jim Boylen wanted the Bulls to play more in half-court sets – which can be successful – but the ball stopped moving far too often. Under Boylen, the Bulls were 26th in the NBA in passes per game. The teams below them were elite isolation teams (Houston, 1st; Spurs, 5th, Lakers, 9th) or lived and died by it (Oklahoma City). The Bulls were 24th in isolation efficiency despite being 7th in frequency. They need to get the ball moving.
Morant would do just that. His 10.0 assists per game were excellent but it’s his ability to keep the ball moving, whether on the perimeter, in transition or in dribble-drive situations that will make him so valuable to an NBA offense. Now, the Bulls don’t have a chance to draft him so let’s move on.
3. R.J. Barrett, SF, Duke
The Bulls stat: 58.0% FG inside 5 feet
Where he helps: The Bulls were surprisingly good at getting to the rim last season, ranking 10th in field goal attempts inside 5 feet per game (33.2). However, the narrative changed once they got there. The Bulls shot just 58.0% from inside 5 feet, third worst in the NBA behind Charlotte and New York. Consider, too, that both those statistics include Robin Lopez, who shot 66.3% on 3.9 attempts inside 5 feet per game. Finishing at the rim is a good barometer for success: Nine of the top-13 finishers at the rim were playoff teams, with Golden State and Milwaukee leading the way.
Barrett had 173 non-transition attempts at the rim during his freshman season. Though he’s not the most efficient player in the country, he was able to finish 64.4% of shots at the rim (that number includes transition attempts). He’s a good enough athlete with quick enough feet and body control around the rim that he’d be a boon for a Bulls team that too often came up empty at the rim.
4. Darius Garland, PG, Vanderbilt
The Bulls stat: 10.1 points, 0.9 3-pointers on 30.5% shooting
Where he helps: The above number is the average from Bulls starting point guards over the last three seasons. In a league that’s seeing its point guards become lead scorers, the Bulls have swung and missed on everyone they’ve brought in post-Derrick Rose (Rondo, Grant, Carter-Williams, Canaan, Dunn, Payne, Arcidiacono, Blakeney, Lemon).
Garland isn’t the perfect prospect but he’s got a shot to fill it up at the next level. He’s an excellent outside shooter who can score in the mid-range, too. He’s got some size restrictions which could make it difficult for him to score at the rim, but the Bulls need a shooter at the point guard position, someone to keep defenses honest. Garland would provide just that.
5. DeAndre Hunter, SF, Virginia
The Bulls stat: 60.6 contested shots per game
Where he helps: This one isn’t pace-dependent so it’s hard to know what percentage of shots the Bulls contested, but as it stands they were 25th in the category last season after Jim Boylen took over. The Bulls were 27th in contested 2-point shots per game (36.2), a mark of lack of communication, length and recovery ability. Plenty of factors go in to why the Bulls were so bad defensively last season, but it begins with the fact that they rarely made life difficult on opposing offenses. Teams took advantage of switches and mismatches and exposed them often.
Hunter would provide the Bulls everything they were lacking on that end of the floor. He’s the best perimeter defender in the class, has excellent length and should be able to guard 2, 3 and 4 at the next level. At the very least, he’s a high-effort player with a non-stop motor who makes the Bulls defense better instantly.
6. Jarrett Culver, SG, Texas Tech
The Bulls stat: 12.3 deflections per game
Where he helps: Of the top 13 teams in deflections per game, eight went to the postseason. Included in that list were the Raptors, Thunder, Rockets, Warriors, Celtics, Nuggets and Jazz. (The Suns and Wizards were in that group, too, for full disclosure). In that same span, the Bulls were 23rd in deflections per game, with Kris Dunn, Otto Porter and Shaq Harrison leading the way in that category.
There’s no collegiate stat for it, but Culver plays passing lanes well and has the length to make the Bulls better in this category. Steals aren’t necessarily an indicator of a good defender, but the Bulls were 20th in that category (7.4 per game). Culver was a pest, racking up 1.5 steals per game for Texas Tech’s NCAA-best defense. He’s a smart defender with length. The Bulls need plenty of that.
7. Cam Reddish, SF, Duke
The Bulls stat: 41.6% eFG on pull-up shots
Where he helps: We're not sure if there's a real correlation between pull-up jumpers and winning, but consider: The six most efficient pull-up jump-shooting teams this season were Golden State, Houston, Portland, LA Clippers, Milwaukee and Brooklyn. The six lease efficient? Minnesota, Memphis, Miami, Oklahoma City, New Orleans and the Bulls. The best of the best were great on pull-ups. Some of the league's worst were at the bottom of this list, including the Bulls at 25th.
His potential suggests Reddish could become a solid shooter and scorer at the next level. But we didn't see it at Duke so we can't really project it. Instead, Reddish scored 0.903 points per possession on 62 off-the-dribble jumpers. It's not a massive sample size (1.6 per game) but was good enough to rank in the 71st percentile nationally. We're looking for real numbers here to support Reddish improving the Bulls. The reality is he's a boom-or-bust pick with high upside and a low floor. But the pull-up numbers were a good look in an otherwise ugly season.
8. Coby White, PG, North Carolina
The Bulls stat: 14.3 transition possessions per game
Where he helps: The Bulls don't need to be the Atlanta Hawks, who led the league with a ridiculous 104.62 pace this past season. But at some point they've got to get their transition game going. Transition possessions accounted for just 13.0% of their offense, 24th in the NBA, and they were 23rd in pace after Jim Boylen took over. That's where White comes in. He led a North Carolina offense that was the fastest of any Power 5 school and he does an excellent job of both pushing the ball and finishing at the rim on those possessions. If the Bulls draft White, he'd essentially force their hand in to pushing the pace more. That's where he excels, and the Bulls have supporting pieces in Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine to do some damage on the break.