Chicago Bulls: 2020 Draft Preview

Bulls Draft Killian Hayes

The Chicago Bulls have undergone a much-needed makeover since their 2019-20 season ended. That makeover is set to continue during the 2020 NBA Draft, where the Bulls will be selecting 4th overall. The Bulls got some good fortune during the lottery, where they projected to receive the 7th pick in the draft, but instead jumped up to 4th.

The Bulls finished the season with a 22-43 record, considered by many to be a disappointing season. Improving the roster is priority one after getting the front office and coaching staff of the future established. They now hold the 4th pick and the 44th pick in the draft. With a promising group of young talent in place and a head coach in Billy Donovan that will get the most from his players, the Bulls have options with their 2020 draft capital. First, a look at their 2019 NBA draft picks.

2019 Bulls Draft Picks:

7th Overall – Coby White

The Bulls selected White 7th overall in 2019, with hopes he could be their PG of the future. He showcased why he was an early pick over stretches of his rookie season, but inconsistent opportunity under former coach Jim Boylen made it difficult for White to solidify himself.

White played in 65 games, but only started one (The final game of the Bulls season). As he grew more comfortable with the NBA game, White’s play got better and better. He isn’t the prototypical PG, instead more of a scoring combo guard. White certainly was worth the selection at 7th overall, and if surrounded by the right pieces, could have a breakout sophomore season.

38th Overall – Daniel Gafford

An early second-round pick, Gafford flashed potential in his rookie campaign. Although he averaged just 14.2 minutes per game, he also made 7 starts for the Bulls. Considering where he was drafted, Gafford definitely raised eyebrows with his play during his rookie season.

If Gafford can continue his development this off-season, he’ll have a clear path to rotation minutes behind starter Wendell Carter, Jr.,*

2020 Off-Season Needs:

1. Franchise Cornerstone

White could still become the face of the Bulls franchise. The same can be argued for Lauri Markkanen, who will look to bounce back from a rocky experience under Boylen. Even if you’re generous in both players long term outlooks, it’s likely they’re best suited in the role of 2nd or even 3rd option.

Zach LaVine has proven he can be dominant on the offensive end. Still, it’s hard to envision a team that features him as the best player developing into a true contender. He’s a star player in today’s league, but certainly not a superstar. A superstar player tends to be the difference between true contenders and pretenders.

The ideal 2020 draft pick for the Bulls will offer the potential to develop into a franchise cornerstone alongside the rest of the Bulls young core. If the Bulls view anyone in this draft as that player, they should be doing whatever it takes to acquire the pick needed to draft him. If they think someone left at four has that upside, they shouldn’t hesitate to select him, regardless of position.

2. Wing to Grow Alongside Young Core

Otto Porter has played in just 29 games as a Chicago Bull. His salary is far too high for this team, especially when factoring in his injury concerns. He’s a good scorer, shooter, and solid defender, but the Bulls may look to part ways with him this off-season. Even if he remains with the team, it’s clear he isn’t a priority in their long term future.

Chandler Hutchison, who will be entering his 3rd NBA season next year, could definitely be a part of the long term Bulls outlook. If he continues his development, he will become a good 3 & D player, always an important skill set in today’s NBA.

Regardless of the presence of Porter and Hutchison, the Bulls need a wing that can truly grow alongside their young core. Hutchison is best suited off the bench for now, and having someone ahead of him long term only increases the team’s upside in the coming years.

3. Versatile Guard

White still projects as more of a scoring guard than a traditional point guard. That’s no knock on him as a player, as scoring guards are valuable in today’s NBA. Next to him in Chicago’s backcourt is LaVine, another player who is a natural scorer before anything else.

With Kris Dunn entering free agency, potentially as a restricted free agent, the Bulls have a decision to make. Dunn fits as a nice backup to the Bulls starting guards, being able to defend and harass opponents lead guards while playing alongside either one of Lavine or White. Still, it may be time to move on.

There is no need to invest financially in Dunn, who is proven to be a liability on the offensive end. The Bulls could use a versatile guard to replace him that can play alongside both of their projected starting guards. Due to the presence of LaVine and White, this guard need is lower on the list of Bulls needs.

2020 NBA Draft Prospect Names to Know

1. Deni Avdija – Forward, Maccabi Tel Aviv

Another international prospect, Avdija has been on the NBA radar for years as one of the better players we’ve seen come over from Europe. He’s a 6’9” wing who brings a versatile offensive game that’s very well rounded for a 19-year-old prospect.

It’s easy to see why scouts see him being capable of playing the 2-4, in addition to a point forward role that sees him handle the ball more than the typical NBA wing. He’s a good passer and possesses great court vision for a player his size. His shot looks good but is an area he will certainly need to improve. Offensively, he is capable of playing power forward in small-ball lineups. Unfortunately, he will be a liability on the defensive end in such lineups.

Avdija would slot in perfectly alongside the Bulls young core. A lineup of White, LaVine, Avdija, Markkanen, and Carter, Jr. is a great starting point for the young Bulls. Further, Avdija does possess the high potential that seems to be lacking outside the top two prospects in this draft class. He fits immediately and could develop into a special player down the road.

2. Killian Hayes – Guard, Ratiopharm Ulm

Hayes is a left-handed guard that brings great size(6’5”) to the position. For the Bulls, this size is crucial in any early guard selection, as the fit playing alongside White will be crucial. Hayes can certainly play next to White, and the fit may actually be a reason the Bulls pull the trigger on him.

Not only does he bring size, but Hayes is also a good play-maker who demonstrates the court vision required to be a primary point guard. Additionally, his handle is where it needs to be for a player his age. His fit alongside White and Lavine is intriguing, as he projects to be one of the three that would be asked to initiate the team’s half-court offense.

White’s natural ability to score is an asset best used by asking him to focus on scoring. Not only could Hayes be a fit immediately, but he could also be the best fit for White’s long term development. Hayes will look to get the ball to scorers more than take his own shot early in his NBA career, and the Bulls have a roster filled with guys who can score the ball.

Hayes will need to improve his perimeter shooting at the next level, but that’s not uncommon for prospects. His shooting motion isn’t the smoothest, but won’t prevent him from becoming a solid shooter in the NBA.

3. Obi Toppin – Forward, Dayton

Considered ‘old’ for an early lottery selection, Toppin is an intriguing prospect even at 22 years old. If the Bulls aren’t in love with any of the remaining prospects upside after the top three picks, Toppin offers an immediate contributor who still has room to grow on the court.

At 6’9”, Toppin can play the modern-day power forward but also possesses the athleticism to potentially get minutes at small forward. He won National Player of the Year last season at Dayton, where he averaged 20 points per game with 7.5 rebounds. Toppin will be able to stretch the floor at the next level, proven by a 39% three-point mark in his final collegiate season.

He could help the Bulls solidify their big rotation moving forward if he were the choice at pick four. A rotation featuring Toppin, Markkanen, Carter Jr, and Gafford is versatile with significant upside. The two true centers, Carter, Jr., and Gafford bring the rim protection and rebounding ability to make up where the other two lack. Those two, Markkanen and Toppin, are good floor spacers and great athletes, who will ensure the Bulls can space the floor and will be able to contribute in transition.

Bulls Draft Prediction:

The top three picks go as projected, taking Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball, and James Wiseman off the board. Barring an overpay from a team looking to trade up for the 4th overall selection, the Bulls keep their draft pick and select best available. For them, that is Devi Avdija, who doesn’t have to develop into a star but has the chance to.

The Bulls suddenly possess a starting five featuring extremely talented young players at each position. With a coach of Donovan’s caliber, young talent from top to bottom, and a creative front office in place, the Bulls would suddenly be trending in the right direction.

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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images

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