On June 20th, the Bulls are going to have to make a decision, and it might already be a lot more specific than “which guy should we take?”
Assuming (safely) that Ja Morant will be gone by the second pick of the night, Darius Garland and Coby White remain as the two top-rated true-point guards available. Both have been rumored, due to their early departure from the NBA combine, to already have a draft-night-promise from a team. With Garland falling somewhere within the top-5 in nearly every mock draft, and then the Suns (who are also in desperate need of a point guard) sitting one spot ahead of the Bulls, Chicago may end up without a (reasonably takable) point guard to draft.
If the Bulls decide that getting their hands on Garland or (more realistically) White is a priority, the team would likely have to trade with or move ahead of the Suns. In recent history, it has cost teams who are within or right around the top-5 a swap in their current pick in the draft and at least one first-round pick in the following year’s draft to move up.
For the Bulls, it’s hard to say whether Garland or White is worth the cost of a future first round pick. Considering the Bulls are still in full rebuild mode, every move and pick could matter tremendously down the road.
With that in mind, should the preferred players not be there at seven, moving down in the draft can be all the more reasonable. If the Bulls aren’t confident that a draft choice at No.7 will be extremely different, from let’s say, a draft pick at 12, then it might be worth grabbing some more future assets and moving down.
I could see teams like the Wizards (No. 9) and Hornets (No. 12) becoming interesting trade targets. Neither team has huge potential to take off next season and both are in desperate need of young talent, so if the Bulls could grab at least a future first-round pick from one of them on top of their pick in this year’s draft, that could actually be a pretty solid deal.
The Celtics and Hawks could also be potential suitors for a move up and dump off of draft picks. After the lottery, league executives told The Athletic that these two teams, along with the Nets and 76ers, could be looking to unload some of their draft picks. Both present a pretty odd scenario though, as the Hawks are only one pick behind the Bulls and also hold the No. 10 pick in the draft, while the Celtics sit right on the brink of the lottery with the No. 14 pick.
If the Bulls could trade down to a pick within the No. 9-14 range, things could be pretty interesting. In this case, considering how forward-heavy this draft is, you would probably go with drafting that position or a center. Names like Jaxson Hayes or Rui Hachimura come to mind if you’re near the higher end of this theoretical spectrum. PJ Washington and Nassir Little will also be projected to go toward the tail-end of the lottery.
Overall, once the Bulls trade down, the move will be to think about depth since the team is pretty set on all starting positions, but point guard at the moment. This idea could certainly be beneficial within itself, as the team could go and spend less money on bench players in free agency and more on a potential point guard.
I want a breakout rookie player to watch just as much as the next depressed Bulls fan, but if that player isn’t sitting at No. 7, it may be worth grabbing some future assets. Because, again, all of the front office decisions right now *need* to be made with the long-term in mind. As much as it may stink, the Bulls are likely not just one piece away from real, sustainable success.