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.