Nearly every rumor surrounding the Bulls offseason has been related to the point guard position. Clearly, the front office is looking to add someone capable of giving current Bulls guard Kris Dunn a run for his money. But while we’ve mostly assumed that player will come out of the draft, a free agent signing or big-league trade can’t be ruled out. Which means the draft could go in an entirely different direction.
Indeed, when you consider the realistic options available in first-round of the draft, it’s still very possible the Bulls won’t have an opportunity to select the sort of point guard worthy of a No. 7 overall pick. And that means must be prepared to audible at the last minute.
To that end, K.C. Johnson has some reporting to do:
One draft possibility that hasn't been linked to Bulls much but two people I respect/talked to today believe is strong fit: Texas big man Jaxson Hayes.
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) June 13, 2019
Surprised? Well, you probably should be.
Jaxson Hayes just finished playing one year at the University of Texas and comes into the NBA Draft as the No. 1 rated center, per ESPN’s draft rankings (he could also be considered a power forward). Overall, Hayes is ranked as the No. 11 draft prospect in this class, which matches up with where he’s being projected in most mock drafts.
The Bulls drafting Hayes at No. 7 wouldn’t be the biggest stretch when you’re looking at the rankings, especially if the team was really looking to fill the center or power forward position. The only problem is, the Bulls used their previous two No. 7 picks in the 2017 and 2018 drafts to bring in a power forward and a center. So … yeah.
Don’t get me wrong: Hayes is a talented athlete who plays a very efficient style of basketball. According to his ESPN draft profile, he was ranked as having the second most efficient shooting percentage in college basketball at 75 percent. He is crafty around the rim and can finish a mean dunk. The only real problem is, the Bulls don’t really need him.
Yes, the Bulls will be looking for someone to come in and back-up Wendell Carter Jr, but it would probably make the most sense to use some of their cap space to bring in a veteran presence. Carter Jr. played only 44 games during his rookie year due to a season-ending thumb injury, so, all things considered, he could come back pretty raw. Not to mention, he is only 19-years-old and has plenty of development ahead, something that can be benefited by a vet who can help show him the ropes.
Overall, it’s just hard to imagine a situation where the Bulls and Carter Jr. are better off with a 19-year-old big man backing up another 19-year-old big man.
Adding young potential is normally always a plus, but if the Bulls keep their No.7 pick, the team needs to address a bigger need first (i.e. point guard or back-up shooting at the SG/SF position).
As a final thought: If the Bulls do happen to trade down in the first-round this would be at least a little bit more of an acceptable pick, but more so if you’re expected Hayes to back-up Markkanen. Going after a power forward in the draft isn’t completely the wrong move, it just doesn’t make sense when you take into account where the Bulls are picking.
When you have the No. 7 spot, you shouldn’t be thinking depth, you should be thinking potential starter.