NBA Mock Draft: Bulls unlikely to get immediate help at No. 22


NBA Mock Draft: Bulls unlikely to get immediate help at No. 22

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.

[MORE NBA DRAFT: Looney's rebounding could prove useful to Bulls]

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. 

[NBA DRAFT: Check out all our NBA Draft player profiles]

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.

[MORE NBA DRAFT: Experience the name of the game for Utah's Delon Wright]

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.

[MORE NBA DRAFT: Excitement builds over Sam Dekker's NBA potential]

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.

Kevin Durant chimes in on Zach LaVine's comments on mid-range shooting

Kevin Durant chimes in on Zach LaVine's comments on mid-range shooting

There is much discussion in the basketball community surrounding the value of the midrange shot following a Sun-Times article from Joe Cowley that discussed the Bulls analytics department wanting Zach LaVine to limit his mid-range attempts, and a segment on ESPN's The Jump, discussing the same topic. On Tuesday morning Matt Moore of the Action Network chimed in, offering up the statistics that clearly support the notion that LaVine should be shooting many, many more 3-pointers than 2s. 

While Moore's points were solid and backed up by the numbers, NBA superstar Kevin Durant offered up his opinion from a player's perspective. Durant backed up LaVine's quote of "sometimes there's nothing better than putting the ball in your best playmaker's hands and letting him get the shot he needs rather than the one you want." KD commented that he has seen too many players pass up wide-open midrange shots to force up 3-pointers or contested shots at the rim, with analytics having an influence on the shots that players take, referring the mid-range as "forbidden."

Durant went on to comment and respond to users' comments on the situation. In one response Durant agrees with a user who states that he is teaching his son to work on his mid-range game first and shoot 3-pointers once he is strong enough, stating "that's how I was taught."

Moore had some fun with the response from Durant, stating that when he initially tweeted about the topic, his intentions were not to get into a debate on the value of mid-range shots with an active NBA player who is already among the all-time greats. 

 Moore's original sentiment agrees with what the Bulls' analytics department is trying to accomplish. LaVine has always been a good mid-range shooter but last year alone he shot 35.8% on mid-range shots and 37.4% on 3-point attempts.

It is obvious that players still need to have to players who can hit mid-range attempts, as some of the best teams in the league—including recent NBA champions Toronto and Golden State, who finished second in the league in percentage of points coming from mid-range shots—have relied on players who can generate solid mid-range attempts in high-leverage moments. But Durant's point is important to note too.

Durant stated that you have to be "confident to make any shot" but countered that whatever you work on the most is what you will be best at. He doubled down on that point, saying most primary scoring options in the NBA shouldn't worry about analytics and should play off of feel, rather than numbers. 

Ultimately, there has to be a balance.

As we have seen through the preseason, taking fewer shots from the mid-range has certainly appeared to benefit LaVine's game, as he is currently fourth in the league in preseason scoring, averaging 23.3 points per game through three contests. But taking what the defense gives you, especially when you are as confident of a player as Durant or LaVine, still needs to be emphasized. 

In what should be a huge season for LaVine, he will again have a high-usage rate as he looks to lead the Bulls to a bounce-back season and mid-range shots, while limited, will still be a part of his shot profile.

So as far as Chicago Bulls fans should be concerned, this is a win-win. LaVine has clearly taken to heart was the Bulls' analytics department is preaching by shooting fewer mid-rangers but he still understands that that shot is going to be necessary for certain moments. So when LaVine is open from mid-range in 2019-20, the Bulls coaching staff will likely be saying the same thing Durant did on Tuesday morning, "Shoot em Zach."

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Watch Lauri Markkanen and Cristiano Felício brave a haunted house

USA Today

Watch Lauri Markkanen and Cristiano Felício brave a haunted house

Lauri Markkanen is 7-feet tall.  Cristiano Felício is 6-feet-10. It’s safe to say they’re big guys, which would lead you to believe they wouldn’t be scared by much.

In a preseason outing to 13th Floor Haunted House in Chicago, Lauri and Felício showed that height doesn’t mean you’re immune to spooks (especially when Benny the Bull is let loose in the haunted house control room).  

Watch them try to maneuver their tall frames through cobwebs and zombies in the video posted to the Bulls’ Twitter here.

Viewers beware, ghastly ghouls and frightened NBA stars await you.

Despite all the screaming, the Bulls players sounded like they had a fun night. Lauri even responded to video on Twitter saying that while maybe he got scared a little, he ultimately had a good time.

Hey, if they can face-off against monsters and chainsaw mascot maniacs, taking on the other teams in NBA won’t seem so bad!

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.