The Chicago Bulls has been in decline since 2015 and by being one of the worst four teams in the NBA, they have a slight chance of winning the NBA lottery.
The Big Picture: With a young core in place headed by Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine, the young Bulls are slowly making a name for themselves. If the Bulls win the 2019 NBA Draft lottery, that would exponentially speed up the process.
Best-Case Scenarios: Currently, the Bulls have a 12.5 percent chance of nabbing the No. 1 overall pick. In the event that the Bulls leapfrog to the top, here are three players that will make an immediate impact in Chicago.
Some Figures for the Mount:
- Averaged 22.6 points, nine rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.8 blocks and 2.1 steals per game for Duke.
- Shot 68 percent from the field on 13.2 shot attempts per game, showing a high maturity level.
- That said, he only shot 33.8 percent from three and only hit 64 percent of his free throws.
Although Williamson needs to work on his 3-point shooting, free throws and turning the ball over less, he is NBA-ready in almost every other facet. That makes him the unquestioned No. 1 pick and probably the best Bulls pick since Jimmy Butler in 2011.
Ja’s Rule: Should the Bulls want a point guard, Murray State standout Ja Morant is a name to remember. Averaging a double-double in his sophomore season, Morant was a sight to behold, messing around and got a triple-double against Marquette.
- After averaging 12.7 points per game and 6.3 assists as a freshman, Morant upped those numbers to 24.5 and 10, respectively, his sophomore year.
- Shot 49.9 percent from the field (36.3 percent from 3-point land) and hit 81.3 percent of his free throws.
- Has problems turning the ball over, with over five per game.
After a stellar showing in the NCAA Tournament, Morant is a name to look out for in this upcoming draft for the Bulls. His slender frame and ability to get to his spots at will is reminiscent of San Antonio Spurs guard Dejounte Murray and with work, could be a great pick for the future.
RJ’s Style: If the Bulls want a similar player to Williamson but more of a facilitator, RJ Barrett is a solid pick. Playing second fiddle to a generational talent like Williamson isn’t easy, but Barrett made it look like effortless.
- Averaged 22.9 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game for Duke.
- His 4.3 assists are second on the team, behind Tre Jones’s 5.3.
- Needs to work on 3-point shooting (30.8 percent) and free throws (66.5 percent).
Barrett has some issues to work out, especially on the defensive end, if he is to work out for Bulls head coach Jim Boylen. That said, considering Barrett will have turned 19 by the time the 2019 NBA Draft rolls around, that is one project that the Bulls will be willing to wait for.
Worst-Case Scenario: With the Bulls front offices’s propensity for questionable decisions in recent years, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think that Chicago might choose a wildcard.
- Even though they are first-round talent, Bol Bol or Rui Hachimura might get picked No. 1 overall, even if they aren’t ready.
- Worse, they might end up trading the pick for win-now players. Of note, Boylen has not had a great run in Chicago thus far and with the front office’s history, it might do more harm than good.
The GarPax factor: One of the more polarizing front offices in the league, President of Basketball Operations John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman have built a lackluster reputation for themselves. Infamously known as “GarPax”, the duo have made some very questionable decisions in recent years.
- Signing Jabari Parker only to trade him and Bobby Portis for Otto Porter Jr. at the deadline was one.
- Another was signing Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo — both non-shooters, to play in former head coach Fred Hoiberg’s 3-point shooting system.
- Perhaps one of the more egregious moves that GarPax made was trading Gary Harris and Jusuf Nurkic for Doug McDermott in 2014. Now, Harris is playing a pivotal role on the surging Denver Nuggets.
- Nurkic was playing his best basketball before a season-ending injury and McDermott was traded to the Thunder in 2017.
Unless there is an overhaul in ideology with GarPax, perhaps the best option is for the two to step down. Allowing executives with more direction and less of a negative reputation can give the Bulls the freedom to start fresh, especially with a young core in place.
The Bottom Line: If the Chicago Bulls end up getting the first overall pick, expect the three aforementioned players to make an impact almost immediately. Regardless of what happens at the top, Williamson, Morant or Barrett will make the Bulls more palatable to watch this season. Nevertheless with GarPax in charge, anything can happen.