Between several notable needs and the stinkin’ No. 7 overall pick, the Chicago Bulls have begun to expand their horizons when it comes to scouting prospects worthy of their first-round pick.
For example, Texas center Jaxson Hayes and French forward Sekou Doumbouya represent two distinct departures from the names most commonly associated with the Bulls to this point in the draft season. And they’re not the end of it: The Athletic’s Shams Charnia recently connected the Bulls to North Carolina forward Nassir Little — who could be a fit for Chicago at No. 7.
More specifically, Charnia reports that the Bulls are “expressing an increased interest” in hosting Little for a workout prior to the draft. Little averaged 9.8 points and 4.6 rebounds in 18.2 minutes per game as a freshman at UNC, but his upside is dreamy.
He was the McDonald’s All-American Game MVP and the No. 2 overall high school prospect for 2018 by Rivals and 247Sports. ESPN ranked Little sixth in that respect, but we’re still talking about a player a year removed from being a consensus top-10 high school prospect.
Little checks in at 6-foot-6 and 224 pounds, but has a 7-foot-1-inch wing span and plus-plus athleticism. On the floor, he’s a high-energy player, active defender on the perimeter, and strong finisher at the rim. But concerns bout his shooting (especially that woeful 26.9 percent from 3-point range) are impossible to ignore, even if connecting on 77 percent on free throws provides for some hope Little can pull it all together and be a respectable shooter down the line.
Charnia hears that several lottery teams don’t have the same concerns about Little’s shot they once did after having him in for pre-draft workouts. Maybe the Bulls will feel the same way if they get him in their facility. It’s worth pointing out the Hawks (who pick immediately after the Bulls) happen to be the place where Charnia feels Little’s draft range begins. Let’s keep that in mind as we approach this Thursday.
Struggles with consistency during his freshman year kept Little from living up to being a top-10 prospect for the Tar Heels, and his NBA Draft stock has taken a tumble since. It seems Little represents the type of boom-or-bust prospect that intrigued the Bulls’ brass in prior years, though we can argue whether that should still be their M.O. He is an athletic fiend who boasts high-energy and a willingness to defend on the perimeter, but is raw on the offensive side of the ball and still has much room to grow.
Drafting Little would represent a mighty swing from a Bulls team banking in on cashing out on upside. Little has plus athleticism and talent, but was inconsistent as a freshman at North Carolina. His skills are raw, but there is a ton of talent bubbling underneath the surface. I could understand why there would be hesitation to take him with the No. 7 pick, but I can also see why a team would be willing to take a chance on a player with upside.