Grayson Allen

Simons, Allen, Robinson: Five players the Bulls should avoid at No. 22


Simons, Allen, Robinson: Five players the Bulls should avoid at No. 22

Pick No. 7 is clearly the big draw for the Bulls when the 2018 NBA Draft begins next week. A top-10 lottery pick in a deep draft like this means a potential All-Star if the right player falls out of the top 5.

But pick No. 22 in the first round is also an important piece for the franchise's future. It's possible that pick No. 22 is packaged with something else in a trade on, or before, draft night. If the Bulls opt to keep the pick, however, they should have an intriguing group of players to pick from in a deep draft.

And with pick No. 22 holding a very favorable cap number on the NBA's rookie pay scale, hitting correctly on that pick could accelerate the Bulls rebuild while making the franchise a more attractive option for potential free agents.

Earlier this week, we looked at five players the Bulls should be targeting at No. 22. Now, we take a look at five players they should avoid if they're still on the board with the same pick. While all five of these players have the potential to be good NBA players, given the right fit, they happen to be the wrong kind of fit for the Bulls.

Grayson Allen, SG, Duke -- There is no denying that Allen is a talented and productive player who could find a long-term role as an NBA player. But the Bulls shouldn't be the team that has to put up with Allen's famous mood swings. 

Although Allen is a noted scorer and improved perimeter shooter over his storied four-year career at Duke, those moments of brilliance were often overshadowed by Allen's antics on the floor. There were multiple tripping incidents involving opponents and a meltdown on the bench that caused him to get suspended. With a roster full of young players, the Bulls don't need to worry about a role player with unpredictable behavior. Let a veteran team take a risk on Allen's conduct. 

De'Anthony Melton, G, USC -- Melton might actually be one of the sleepers to keep an eye on when it comes to the 2018 NBA Draft. But he isn't an ideal fit for the Bulls given his questionable perimeter shooting.

A do-it-all 6-foot-3 guard with a 6-foot-8 wingspan, Melton stuffed the stat sheet during his freshman season at USC. Then he was forced to sit out last season when he was caught up in the FBI's investigation into college basketball. Teams shouldn't be deterred by Melton missing a season. They should, however, be cautious of his 28 percent three-point shooting and wary of the reports that his jumper looks significantly better. Although Melton has been working out with noted shooting guru Drew Hanlen during the pre-draft process, he's too similar to Kris Dunn for the Bulls to take him at No. 22. 

Mitchell Robinson, C, Western Kentucky -- A talented big man who could become an elite rim protector, the 7-foot-0 Robinson was an enticing five-star recruit coming out of high school. He was good enough to give potential No. 1 pick DeAndre Ayton a memorable one-on-one big man battle at the Nike Peach Jam.

Then the drama started with Western Kentucky. Robinson enrolled in summer classes, then packed up his bags and left campus, only to return to school a few weeks later. Eventually, Robinson dropped out of school and opted to work out on his own as he prepared for the 2018 NBA Draft. As if there weren't enough red flags to begin with, Robinson unexpectedly pulled his name out of all NBA Draft Combine activities one day before it was set to begin. Since he's only been playing organized basketball since eighth grade, and there are questions about his maturity and willingness to work, passing on Robinson is probably for the best, despite his immense upside.

Anfernee Simons, PG, IMG Academy -- The latest high school player to make the leap into the NBA Draft, the 6-foot-4 Simons is a smooth guard and a natural scorer. Making a transition from off-guard to point guard during a postgrad year at IMG Academy, Simons is an intriguing long-term talent if he's properly developed and given time to grow.

But if you're the Bulls, do you really want to develop a high school player on a roster already featuring a lot of young players? Especially one that still needs plenty of seasoning while learning a new position? Regardless of where he ends up, Simons is going to need a lot of time to develop into a rotation player in the NBA. The Bulls should look for someone a little more ready to contribute, given the available talent at the end of the first round. 

Omari Spellman, F/C, Villanova -- The Bulls will be in the mix for a number of Villanova products during the 2018 NBA Draft and Spellman has a chance at being a first-round pick after a strong redshirt freshman season.

Shooting an impressive 43 percent from three-point range last season, the 6-foot-9 Spellman fits the new-age NBA that is seeking floor-spacing at all five spots. Also a double-double threat thanks to his natural rebounding ability, Spellman could be productive in a number of unique ways. Spellman's biggest issue, with regard to the Bulls, is that he's too similar to Lauri Markkanen. Both big men can knock down jumpers at a high clip while being productive rebounders. However, Spellman doesn't protect the rim at an elite level and wouldn't be a great fit playing alongside Markkanen.

Adaptability, athleticism make Grayson Allen intriguing NBA Draft prospect

Adaptability, athleticism make Grayson Allen intriguing NBA Draft prospect

Part of the acclimation process many college athletes go through upon entering the league is finding their specific role. Players who are months removed from being the go-to players on their respective college teams enter an organization that’s looking for a role player, a lockdown defender, a scorer on the second unit, maybe even a project. It can be tough for said players to accept that after being alphas on a national stage that led them to the point of being drafted. It’s also something Grayson Allen will have no problem adjusting to.

A rare senior with first-round potential (two seniors were taken in Round 1 last year, at 29 and 30), Allen has had the opportunity and burden of playing on four supremely talented Duke teams. But unlike the Shane Battiers and Mike Dunleavys that came through Durham in the early ‘00s, Allen watched one-and-dones cycle through the program and it subsequently changed Allen’s role on the team.

Consider this: In his time at Duke Allen played with nine different players who have appeared in the NBA – Okafor, Cook, Winslow, Jones, Ojeleye, Plumlee, Ingram, Kennard, Tatum. Two others, Frank Jackson and Harry Giles, were selected last year but sat with injuries. Then take Allen’s current teammates who will be taken at some point: Marvin Bagley, Wendell Carter, Tre Duval and Gary Trent and there are 15 different NBA players who Allen shared the floor with at Duke.

Allen was tasked with being the go-to scorer as a sophomore, but his attempts decreased in his junior and senior seasons as he shared point-guard duties for teams without a real identity at the position; Jackson and Duval were both underwhelming in their lone seasons with the Blue Devils. Allen’s assists per game and assist percentage jumped up as his scoring decreased, though he still managed 15.0 points on 37 percent shooting from deep in his final two years.

“Each year I’ve been at Duke I’ve had to score in different spots and I think that has helped me so much,” he said Thursday at the NBA Draft Combine. “Playing with extremely talented guys that I had to adjust scoring in different spots to add to my game, that makes me more ready. I can adjust to whatever situation.”

Allen admitted his best trait is his shooting – his 291 career 3-pointers are 13th most in ACC history – and he shot 38 percent over his four-year career. And though he admitted J.J. Redick has been a mentor and someone to lean on during the pre-draft process, the comparisons between the two stop at the shooting.

“I don’t think J.J. jumped 40 inches,” Allen said while laughing.

Allen was a winner on Thursday, putting together a combine that included a 40.5-inch max vertical and 32.5-inch standing vertical, both sixth best among all players. His 10.31-second lane agility time was the fastest at the combine and the fifth fastest in the database that goes back to 2000. His shuttle run of 3.04 seconds was third fastest among all players.

Put another way: Allen is one hell of an athlete. He converted 49 percent of his 2-pointers at Duke and got to the free throw line an average of 5.0 times per game in his final three seasons. Oh, and he won the 2014 McDonald’s All-American Game Dunk Contest in 2014.

He measured a solid 6-foot-4.5 in shoes and has a 6-foot-7 wingspan. Though his calling card isn’t on the defensive end, his athleticism may make up for some of his shortcomings on that end. He’ll make or break his NBA career on the offensive end, and if a team can hide him defensively it won’t matter.

His intensity and maturity have come into question, mainly from the multiple tripping incidents he had at Duke. He was stripped of his captaincy as a junior but regained it for his senior season. If he can harness his intensity and channel it correctly it’ll benefit a team greatly.

Allen is also familiar with Chicago. He was in town for this week’s Lottery and Combine, but he also spent three weeks in the Windy City last summer doing an internship with Intersport, a media sales company. The Bulls have the 22nd pick in the first round and Allen could be an option for a team looking for more shooting in the backcourt.

“I love Chicago. I was here last summer doing an internship at Intersport for about three weeks. I loved my time here. It was during the summer so it was warm and nice weather,” he said. “I love the city of Chicago. It’s a great place with great people, and the Bulls are a great franchise. It would be amazing to play for a team like that.”