2017 NBA Draft

Breaking down NBA Draft prospects outside the top 5

Breaking down NBA Draft prospects outside the top 5

When Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations John Paxson announced the Bulls would be looking to build through the draft after trading All-Star Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves last June, the expectation was the roster would be pared down to a level that would almost guarantee a top 5 selection in 2018. The Bulls bought out the option on Rajon Rondo’s contract and did the same with Dwyane Wade just before the start of training camp. That left the roster without a single player over the age of 30 and sorely lacking in NBA experience.

Through the first six weeks of the season, everything was going according to plan. The Bulls played hard and were competitive in most games, but their lack of experience kept them from getting many wins. A 10-game losing streak starting in late November dropped their record to 3-20, easily the worst in the league.

But then Niko Mirotic and David Nwaba returned from injuries and the team found its mojo. 10 wins in 12 games allowed the Bulls to leapfrog a handful of teams in the standings, and all of a sudden that top 5 pick doesn’t look like a sure thing anymore.

Unless the Bulls get lucky in the draft lottery and jump into the top 3, they probably won’t get a shot at franchise changing talents like Duke forward Marvin Bagley, III, Arizona center Deandre Ayton, international star Luka Doncic or Oklahoma point guard Trae Young (who looks like a Steph Curry clone).

Still, all is not lost. The 2018 draft appears to have star potential through the top 10 picks, and remember two of the top rookies this season, Utah’s Donovan Mitchell (No. 13) and the Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma (No. 27) were selected even later than that.

Check out the video for a look at which players the Bulls might be interested in if their pick falls outside of the Top 5.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Gar Forman defends Jimmy Butler trade

ap_218443475798.jpg
AP

Bulls Talk Podcast: Gar Forman defends Jimmy Butler trade

On the latest Bulls Talk Podcast, Mark Schanowski, Will Perdue and Vincent Goodwill recap the Bulls' busy NBA Draft and the decision to trade Jimmy Butler to Minnesota. 

Bulls general manager Gar Forman joins the panel for an exclusive interview. He breaks down why the organization decided to move the three-time All-Star. 

Click here to Bulls Talk Podcast.

Nikola Mirotic and why the Bulls traded their second-round pick

Nikola Mirotic and why the Bulls traded their second-round pick

The Bulls entered rebuild mode on Thursday night after they dealt Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves. They acquired a pair of guards in Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn, and the No. 7 pick which they used to select Arizona power forward Lauri Markkanen.

But the Bulls opted not to continue adding youth to their roster when they sold their second-round pick, No. 38 overall, to the Golden State Warriors. That pick was Oregon power forward Jordan Bell, who many considered a late first-round prospect.

The move was perplexing for a team that hours earlier had traded away its franchise player to start a youth movement. But VP John Paxson said after the draft that the decision to move the pick was based on team depth, hinting at a significant move the Bulls will make in free agency.

"We had some wings on our board that we had targeted that were the only way we were going to keep that (No. 38) pick, and they went before us. And drafting Lauri (Markkanen), and the fact that we have, Niko’s a restricted free agent we intend to bring back, Bobby Portis, we didn’t want to add another big and that’s really all that was left on our board."

Both Paxson and general manager Gar Forman have said since the season ended that Mirotic, who will become a restricted free agent on July 1, is part of their future plans. The Bulls will be able to match any contract that another team offers Mirotic, and they intend to keep the 26-year-old in Chicago. After Butler's departure, Mirotic is now the longest tenured member of the Bulls. He's been with the team for three seasons.

The wings Paxson may have been referring to include Miami's Devon Reed (32nd overall to Phoenix), Kansas State's Wesley Iwundu (33rd overall to Orlando) or SMU's Semi Ojeleye (Boston, 37th overall). Point guards Juwan Evans (Oklahoma State) and Sterling Brown (SMU) were still on the board and potential options, but the Bulls were set on looking for wing help after receiving point guard Kris Dunn and shooting guard Zach LaVine in the Butler trade.

The Bulls frontcourt depth looks filled, as Cristiano Felicio is expected to return behind Robin Lopez. Mirotic, Portis, Markkanen and Joffrey Lauvergne should make up the power forward depth chart. Opting against using the 38th pick, which Golden State bought for a whopping $3.5 million, also leaves the Bulls with room to add a 13th player in the fall.

"It keeps us at 12 roster spots and gives us real flexibility for our roster," Paxson said. "So we didn’t just want to use up a roster spot on a player that we probably wouldn’t have kept."