Can the Bulls Win The Jackpot With Three 7’s?


The Chicago Bulls have the seventh overall pick in the draft for the third year in a row. Will three sevens turn into a jackpot for one of the poorest teams in the league?

When you play the slots in Las Vegas, you mostly lose more than you win. But, every now and then, the slot reels stop at three lucky sevens and you win the jackpot!

In recent years, the Chicago Bulls have mostly lost much more than they’ve won. During an April press conference, Vice President of Basketball Operations John Paxson informed fans and the media that; “luck and hope are not a strategy.” However, just after the 2019 NBA Draft Lottery in May, when the Bulls lost out on the top pick and the chance to draft freshman phenom Zion Williamson, Paxson made the following comments; “Like I said, there’s luck involved and we didn’t have luck tonight.”

Only one team can get the top pick and the New Orleans Pelicans were that team this year. The last time the Bulls had the top pick in the draft was 2008. With only a 1.7% chance, they got lucky and selected Chicago native Derrick Rose. The team was riding a hot streak after Rose went on to become the 2011 NBA MVP and led the team to the best regular season record for two consecutive years. Unfortunately, that team couldn’t beat the machine that was LeBron James and the Miami Heat or the constant injury bug.

As luck should have it (or not!), the Bulls landed the 7th pick in the NBA draft for the third year in a row. Now, the team is hoping that they can hit the jackpot with three lucky sevens and start winning big.

Seven #1 – Lauri Markkanen

After being one of the top freshmen in college basketball, Lauri Markkanen was selected in the 2017 NBA Draft and could be the first reel that hits among the teams’ three seventh overall picks.

At seven feet tall, Markkanen is a high-IQ player with a unique offensive skillset and sneaky athleticism. He can score from all three levels and has shown he is capable of dominating opponents when he plays aggressively, but has failed to consistently prove that he is elite at it. Now entering his third year, the Bulls are hoping that he can take that next step in his development, both offensively and defensively, and establish himself as one of the best big men in the game.

This season, Lauri must become the team’s primary player for them to have any chance at breaking the bank. If the first of their number seven picks fails to hit, the Bulls hopes of winning and franchise future will be all but tapped out.

Seven #2 – Wendell Carter Jr.

A year after selecting Markkanen with the seventh pick, the team would once again pick in the same draft spot. This time, the Bulls would select another skilled big man in 6’10”, 255 pound center/forward, Wendell Carter Jr.

A five-star high school recruit – who played his freshman year at Duke University – Carter Jr. displayed early promise with his two-way skillset and high motor. Unfortunately, his rookie season was cut short by a left thumb injury in mid-March. Still, his combination of above-average defensive ability, along with a deft scoring touch from mid-range and close to the basket, demonstrated his undeniable capability to become a cornerstone player for the franchise. His early season highlights display a veteran-like awareness to his game that can take most young players years to develop.

Once Wendell Carter Jr. gains a better understanding of the physicality of the game and how to avoid foul trouble, he’s gonna be a problem for most bigs in the league. Although time will tell, the Bulls seventh pick in the 2018 NBA Draft is predicted by many pundits to be one of the better players in a deep draft class.

Seven #3 – ???

At this point, it’s too early to know what the Bulls will do with the seventh overall pick in this year’s draft. The Bulls have made it no secret that they are seeking an upgrade at point guard and there is speculation that they could include the pick in a trade to acquire another player – such as Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball. However, the team may just choose to stand pat and pick the best player available among a number of potential prospects expected to be there, including guards Darius Garland and Coby White or wing players Jarrett Culver and Cam Reddish.

If he’s available, my top choice would be defensive-minded, Big 12 Player of the Year – Jarrett Culver. With promising offensive upside, Culver is a smart young player who could help bolster the Bulls bench and vastly improve the team’s dismal perimeter defense. Furthermore, he led Texas Tech to the NCAA Championship game last season and is considered to be a team-first player with an excellent work ethic. He would certainly benefit from having less pressure to immediately contribute as a starter.


A “Reel” Dilemma or the “Luck” of the Draw?

A few things will have to happen for the Bulls to defy the odds this year and select another player with the seventh overall pick, who could be the perfect addition to their other two potential franchise blue-chippers. Whoever the Bulls choose to stop the reels for could potentially represent the third and final piece needed to compete for and maybe get lucky enough to win the ultimate proverbial basketball jackpot, otherwise known as an NBA Championship.

As the saying goes – “It’s better to be lucky than good, but it’s even better to be both!”

About Ben Rodriguez

NBA league analyst and Chicago Bulls basketball writer. A true Bulls fan since the Jordan era and long after.

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