When Gar Forman and the front office saw German small forward Paul Zipser still on the board at No. 48, they pounced at the opportunity to add him.
The 6-foot-8 Zipser has spent the last four seasons with Bayern Munich of the German BBL, most recently averaging 7.1 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 40 games. He also shot 49 percent from the field and made 43.6 percent of his 1.9 3-point attempts per game. He was named the BBL’s “Best Young German Player” in 2016 and projects as a small forward at the next level.
“We think is very, very talented,” Forman said at the Advocate Center on Thursday. “He’s got some size and athleticism. He can shoot the ball and has got a skill level. We had a chance to see him. Ivica Dukan, who heads up our international scouting, is extremely high on him.”
Zipser is considered old by both international and rookie standards. Already 22 years old, however, it gave the Bulls a chance to do their homework and analyze his game more in-depth than some of the younger overseas players who entered this year’s draft. Zipser first put his name in the draft in 2015 before withdrawing.
He’s not unfamiliar to playing with NBA players, either. In addition to his time with Bayern Munich, Zipser was named to Germany’s national team last season. He competed at Eurobasket 2015 with current NBA players Dirk Nowitzki and Dennis Schroder, averaging 5.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists. He finished fourth on the team in scoring behind Schroder (21.0 points), Nowitzki (13.8) and Tibor Pleiss (9.2), who played 12 games with the Utah Jazz last season. Germany went 1-4 in the tournament.
“He’s a guy we’ve seen quite a bit of,” Forman said, “and feel we knew him pretty well.”
Zipser has a $600k buyout option in his final year with Bayern Munich, according to Draft Express' Jonathan Givony, and Forman said the expectation is for him to join the Bulls this season. He won’t participate in the Bulls’ Summer League this July as he competes for Germany’s national team in the 2016 Olympics but is expected to return for training camp.
The Bulls almost lucked in to Notre Dame point guard Demetrius Jackson, the Notre Dame point guard who could have been an option at No. 14. Instead, he fell to No. 45, where the Celtics swooped him up with their fourth of six draft picks.
Instead, Zipser will give the Bulls continued depth on the wing after they selected Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine in the first round. He’s still very much a project as he acclimates to the NBA style, but the Bulls were happy to come away with a player they had scouted and seen enough of to spend a draft pick on.
“He’s got really good tools with his size. He’s a strong kid, he’s got good size at 6-foot-8 for the wing position,” Forman said. “He’s got a skill level. He can shoot it from beyond the arc, he can handle it, he can pass. He’s a well-rounded player.”