With the Bulls only holding one selection in the upcoming draft, there isn’t much of a chance to grab a rotation player on June 25. Still, Gar Forman and his scouting staff can add a developmental player with the No. 22 overall pick, who will eventually earn minutes under new coach Fred Hoiberg. And, given the Bulls’ success with late first round picks like Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson and Nikola Mirotic, you have to like their chances.
Here’s an early look at how draft night might play out.
1. Timberwolves: Karl-Anthony Towns, C/PF, Kentucky
Minnesota is reportedly split right now with head coach and President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders wanting Duke product Jahlil Okafor and other members of the front office preferring Towns. The guess here is Towns will eventually win out because of his superior athleticism and ability to play the power forward spot. Minnesota already has a highly-paid center in the often-injured Nikola Pekovic, but he could be a trade candidate.
2. Lakers: Jahlil Okafor, C, Duke
The Lakers are desperate for size and inside scoring, and Okafor should be able to provide both. Kobe Bryant is expected to return from shoulder surgery and will remain the focal point of the offense, but the addition of Okafor and last year’s lottery pick, Julius Randle, should give the Lakers some hope for the future.
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3. 76ers: D’Angelo Russell, SG/PG, Ohio State
Philly has stocked up on young bigs in recent drafts with Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid and European prospect Dario Saric. Adding a dynamic playmaker with good size like Russell should help jump-start their rebuilding program.
4. Knicks: Emmanuel Mudiay, PG, China
No team was more disappointed on draft night than the Knicks, who dropped from second to fourth overall. Phil Jackson was hoping to add one of the young centers to his triangle offense, now he’ll probably have to settle for an unproven point guard who played in China last season, instead of going to SMU to play for Larry Brown like he originally planned. Mudiay is said to be a tremendous talent, but is he the right fit in New York? Jackson might decide to take the safer route and go with Duke small forward Justice Winslow instead.
5. Magic: Justice Winslow, SF, Duke
Orlando GM Rob Henigan is quietly putting together a nice roster in Central Florida for new coach Scott Skiles. Winslow would be a good fit at the small forward spot, especially if Tobias Harris leaves in free agency. The Magic have already drafted or traded for impressive young talents like Victor Oladipo, NIk Vucevic, Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon.
6. Kings: Kristaps Porzingis, PF, Spain
Hard to tell what Sacramento might do here. They really need a point guard, but Murray State’s Cameron Payne would be a reach this high. Kings have All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins up front, but Porzingis could be a complement to Boogie with his ability to shoot from the outside.
7. Nuggets: Trey Lyles, PF, Kentucky
Another mismatched roster with too many wing players and not enough size. Lyles might have been the most underused talent on that Kentucky roster last season, but scouts love his inside-outside potential.
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8. Pistons: Stanley Johnson, SF, Arizona
Stan Van Gundy is still trying to sort out his roster, and it’s very likely the Pistons will lose Greg Monroe in free agency. Johnson only played one season at Arizona, but he’s one of the few players in this draft with real star potential, so Van Gundy might swing for the fences here.
9. Hornets: Mario Hezonja, SG, Spain
Okay, I’ve never seen the guy play, but scouts seem to love him, and Charlotte is one of the worst shooting teams in the NBA. The Lance Stephenson experiment failed miserably and Gerald Henderson could be leaving in free agency, so this is a position of need for Michael Jordan’s team.
10. Heat: Devin Booker, SG, Kentucky
Make it three Kentucky players in the Top 10. Booker didn’t get a chance to fully showcase his talents with John Calipari playing 10 guys on a regular basis, but scouts love his shooting ability, and think he has potential to score off the dribble. Good insurance for Miami in case Dwyane Wade is serious about opting out of his contract in search of a max deal.
11. Pacers: Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Kentucky
Make it four of the first 11 for the Wildcats. Cauley-Stein is a free spirit, who might raise a few red flags with NBA GM’s during the interview process. Not sure how French Lick native Larry Bird will react to Cauley-Stein’s quirkiness, but Bird can appreciate an agile big man with superior defensive skills. Cauley-Stein could play right away if Roy Hibbert leaves via free agency or trade.
12. Jazz: Sam Dekker, SF, Wisconsin
Another team that is putting together a good young roster. In case you missed it, Utah finished with a winning record after the All-Star break under first-year head coach Quin Snyder. The Jazz have a high lottery pick backcourt in Trey Burke and Dante Exum, a shot-blocking center in Rudy Gobert, and a veteran scorer in Gordon Hayward. Dekker would be a good fit with the capability to play both forward spots off the bench.
13. Suns: Frank Kaminsky, C/PF, Wisconsin
Back-to-back Badgers go off the board. Phoenix loves to shoot the three, and Kaminsky will fit right in, assuming he can make the transition from college center to NBA power forward. Given his tremendous success at Wisconsin, I wouldn’t bet against him.
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14. Thunder: Cameron Payne, PG, Murray State
Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook played at a near MVP level last season, but might he be even better at shooting guard alongside a true distributor like Payne? The 6-foot-2 Murray State star has been the talk of the pre-draft workout circuit, and may go even higher than this spot for another team looking to trade up.
15. Hawks: Myles Turner, C/PF, Texas
Another player who’s been impressive in pre-draft workouts after one less than sensational year in college. Most scouts project the 6-foot-11 Turner as an NBA power forward, and that’s an area of need for the three-point shooting Hawks, especially with Paul Millsap heading into free agency.
16. Celtics: Montrezl Harrell, PF, Louisville
As usual, Danny Ainge is armed with multiple draft picks and cap room, so he could go in a number of directions. Harrell was a preseason All-American a year ago, but kind of got lost on a dysfunctional Louisville team. A little undersized for an NBA power forward, but has a high motor like current Golden State overachiever Draymond Green.
17. Bucks: Jerian Grant, PG/SG, Notre Dame
Sure, the Bucks just traded for their point guard of the future in Michael Carter-Williams, but I’m guessing Jason Kidd wouldn’t mind having another big, versatile guard on his roster. Grant was the driving force behind Notre Dame’s run to the Elite 8, and could be an excellent swing guard in the pros.
18. Rockets: Tyus Jones, PG, Duke
The small, but explosive Jones came through big time in the NCAA tournament, helping Mike Krzyzewski win his fifth national title. Houston really missed injured point guard Patrick Beverley during the playoffs, and would be well-advised to add a young prospect like Jones. Really good value at this pick.
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19. Wizards: Bobby Portis, PF, Arkansas
Portis has been telling the media he’s the best power forward in the draft. Probably not accurate, but you have to appreciate his self-confidence. Washington really doesn’t have any major needs, but with Nene in and out of the lineup all season, another big man couldn’t hurt.
20. Raptors: Kevon Looney, PF, UCLA
Toronto has been unhappy with the production at the power forward spot from Amir Johnson and Tyler Hansbrough. Looney played just one season at UCLA, but he’s a very athletic big who could grab some minutes right away for the reigning Atlantic Division champs.
21. Mavericks: Delon Wright, PG, Utah
After the failed Rajon Rondo experiment, Dallas could be looking for a young point guard to develop behind the unimpressive trio of Devin Harris, J.J. Barea and Ray Felton. Wright is a four-year player at Utah with good size at 6-foot-5, who should be able to contribute right away.
22. BULLS: R.J. Hunter, SG, Georgia State
I think the Bulls would love to grab a young point guard like Grant, Jones or Wright to develop behind Derrick Rose, but with all three off the board, they might reach for a big-time shooter like Hunter, who was one of the stars of last spring’s NCAA tournament. Hoiberg wants to play a fast-paced, quick-strike offense, and fill the court with shooters, which would make Hunter a nice addition. A young developmental big is also a possibility here, maybe Syracuse’s Rakeem Christmas, Kentucky’s Dakari Johnson or Washington’s Robert Upshaw.
23. Blazers: Justin Anderson, SF, Virginia
Solid two-way player who excelled under a defense-first system at Virginia. Has the versatility to play either wing position, and might be a good fit for Portland with Wes Matthews coming off an Achilles injury and also heading into free agency.
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24. Cavs: Rashad Vaughn, SG, UNLV
Averaged almost 18 points per game for the Runnin’ Rebels. Cleveland is pretty well stocked at most positions, and with most of the top point guards off the board, another shooter like Vaughn provides some insurance in case J.R. Smith decides to opt out of the final year of his contract.
25. Grizzlies: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, SF, Arizona
Probably would have benefited from another year in college to work on his offensive game. Still, Hollis-Jefferson is an excellent perimeter defender who should fit in well with the Grizzlies culture.
26. Spurs: Rakeem Christmas, PF/C, Syracuse
Spurs could go with a European stash candidate to save some cap room for possible free agent moves. But if they decide to draft a player who could contribute next season, Christmas has performed well in workouts, and could learn behind perhaps the best power forward of all time in Tim Duncan.
27. Lakers: Kelly Oubre, SF, Kansas
Only played one uninspired season at Kansas and hasn’t looked all that good in team workouts. Still, scouts loved him coming out of high school, and maybe Bryant can light a fire under him in L.A.
28. Celtics: Christian Wood, PF, UNLV
Not a great athlete, but he can really shoot it. At this point of the draft, Boston could go in a number of directions, or even look to trade the pick.
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29. Nets: Terry Rozier, PG, Louisville
More of a scorer than a playmaker, but Brooklyn is looking for some youth at the position behind Deron Williams and Jarrett Jack. Rozier is also showing well in pre-draft workouts.
30. Warriors: Jordan Mickey, PF, LSU
Golden State is having great success with Green playing the power forward position at 6-foot-7, so why not add a similar multiple effort kind of player like the 6-foot-8 Mickey? Could also go for another shooter like Nebraska’s Terran Petteway or UCLA’S Norman Powell.