Bulls

The Doors at 4: Chicago’s Options in the 2020 Draft

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The Chicago Bulls being near the top of the lottery is almost as unprecedented as the times we’re living in. Chicago’s hiatus led to an entirely new era for the Bulls, ridding themselves of Gar Forman, Jim Boylen and reducing John Paxson’s role. As the Bulls received the 4th pick on the Aug. 20 draft lottery, Arturas Karnisovas’ smile reflected the optimism and hope within the Bulls organization and fanbase. Now, with the good feelings behind, the hard work and due diligence on the 2020 draft class gives way to a lot of takes and opinions about them.

If you browse Twitter, you’ll see a large part of Bulls fans wanting to select Deni Avdija from Israel.

He’s someone who has drawn a lot of interest from around the league as the best international prospect in this class. Many mock drafts place him with the Bulls at No. 4. Another option is to trade up for one of Killian Hayes, James Wiseman or LaMelo Ball. This will certainly cost you one of your own pieces, and in a draft that doesn’t project a Luka or a Zion, do you take that risk?

The opposite choice is available as well. Trade down and pick up even more assets in a draft where the talent disparity isn’t that vast. Options are plentiful for the Bulls, and they should look at every one of them.

Although you’re never supposed to draft for fit in the lottery, the Bulls are in a special place where whoever is the best player available can fit the team well.

Guards

Zach LaVine is the Bulls’ primary bucket getter, but not their primary ball-handler or initiator. Coby White’s electrifying scoring ability may also be best suited off-the-bench a-la Lou Williams or Ben Gordon. To utilize those two shot creators to the best of their abilities, you need someone else who can create for others on the court. The guards in this draft offer Karnisovas and Marc Eversley a chance for that guy. Someone who can set up players like Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter and Otto Porter Jr. for shots inside and out.

Depending on how teams view him, Ball may very well be a top-3 pick. There’s also a chance he falls to four. Quite possibly the best playmaker in this draft, the 6-foot-8 point guard would have some targets to dish to in the high-flying LaVine and the sharpshooting Porter Jr. Along with Markkanen, the three of them would also be able to hide some of the youngest Ball brother’s shooting woes. Hiding him on defense would be another story. Ball certainly has the size to be a good defender, but it will take time for him to reach his potential on that end.

The more realistic guard to look at may be Killian Hayes out of the NBBL. A smooth 6-foot-5 lefty with tremendous vision and passing ability, Hayes can shoot better than Ball. He is also active and aware on the defensive end. Having someone who is already a serviceable defender next to lesser defenders like LaVine and Markkanen tightens up the Bulls’ D. One of Hayes’ biggest critiques is his lack of a right-handed game. If he can develop that right hand, Hayes will be a name to be reckoned with in the league.

Wings

Porter Jr. missed most of last season and is entering the final year of his contract. Chandler Hutchison has yet to stay healthy enough to be retained, and Denzel Valentine was in Boylen’s doghouse much of the season. As a result, the Bulls were forced to plug guards into wing roles. Kris Dunn, Shaquille Harrison and Ryan Arcidiacano can attest to that. Luckily, they have several names to look at to bolster the two and three positions.

Deni Avdija is certainly the fan-favorite pick. At 6-foot-9, Avdija seems to have a good handle on all aspects of the game. He has a high IQ, good vision, can pass, run the floor, play defense and does many of the little things necessary to win. He’s not much of a playmaker but can do it in spurts. The Israeli teenager is a fierce competitor, too. One of the most telling ways to see if a player has the potential to be a good shooter is through their free throws. Deni is a sub-60 percent free-throw shooter throughout his career. That will obviously need to change at the next level.

Isaac Okoro from Auburn is a tremendous defender and one of the best athletes in this draft. While he needs to improve his shooting, he’s an underrated passer who can find the open man. In addition to Okoro, Vanderbilt’s Aaron Nesmith and Florida State’s Devin Vassell are two high-floor wings in the 2020 draft. Nesmith is a sharpshooter who can contribute right away. Vassell is an elite defender, on and off the ball, who can terrorize opposing wings.

Each of these players bring something special to the table that the Bulls brass would yearn for. All three also have 3-and-D potential and could be plugged in right away. Trading down and getting another asset, like a pick or another unproven player to mold, could make for a successful Bulls draft.

Bigs

Perhaps the least-pressing situation with this draft lies with the bigs. Wendell Carter, besides being the best defender on the team, is also a walking double-double. His passing ability has yet to be properly utilized, too. Daniel Gafford led all rookies in blocks (1.3) last year in only 14 minutes a game. Does the new front office think highly enough of the bigs on the board to impede the development of those two?

Additionally, Karnisovas and Eversley have talked about the regression of certain players, Markkanen in particular. Eversley, in an interview with KC Johnson of NBCSports, spoke on the former Arizona Wildcat and his play in 2019-20.

“Lauri [Markkanen] is a modern-day stretch four…He regressed a little bit last year. I’d love to learn more about that.”

At the end-of-season press call with reporters, Karnisovas stated, “Our objective is to get the best version of Lauri next year… We’re going to put a plan together for him. We’re going to schedule and do that.”

As this new front office brings in a new coach and new player development team, the Finnisher shows to still be a focal point for this team.

Conclusion

Moving into the top-5 of this year’s draft opens a lot of doors for the Bulls. Arturas and crew have a lot of work ahead of them, but the lottery showed that luck may be on their side.

Follow us on Twitter @BullsLead for the latest Bulls news and insight.

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