I know this may come as a surprise, but the Bulls drafted two players last Thursday night.
Coby White has been getting his fair share of love from Chicagoland online and in the media, but the No. 38-overall pick, Daniel Gafford, isn’t one to be forgotten.
Oregon standout Bol Bol was still sitting in the green room waiting for his selection, but it was Gafford who would hear his name called first on the TV. When his name was called off the board, many people prefaced their thoughts with: who?
Well, this is who…
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Bol Bol the Bull would have been one fun headline to write. But, alas, the Bulls look like they made a safer (and completely likable) decision with Gafford.
The big man was a projected first-round pick a year ago before opting to play another year at Arkansas. During his introductory press conference yesterday, Gafford spoke about his draft position falling, stating he didn’t quite know what the cause was. However, he takes responsibility for it after choosing to return to college, a decision it sounds like he doesn’t regret: “I decided to come back an extra year to get that year under my belt so I could be able to withstand this process, because if I would of came out my freshman year, this process would have eaten me up, and I did not want that to happen,” Gafford said.
No matter the year, Gafford still achieved his NBA dream, and he deserves it.
Last season with the Razorbacks, Gafford certainly improved his stat line from year one. The big man put up 16.9 points per game with 8.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. While Gafford had a nice scoring average, that number is obviously expected to drop significantly in the NBA. Jump shots aren’t Gafford’s forte, something even he admits needs to be improved on greatly.
But he brings some level of confidence that he can compete for rebounds right away and offer defensive assistance.
Gafford: "I go for every rebound. I think everything is a miss. I always protect the rim – protect home first. Defense first, offense second." pic.twitter.com/g3V83y2YNb
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) June 24, 2019
Hey, I believe him. Gafford has the potential and athleticism to keep his rebounding and block numbers up. The Bulls can certainly use improvement in both those categories, and even if he isn’t the most polished player on the floor (he probably will never be), his level of intensity is another aspect that could greatly benefit this organization.
During his interview with CBS Chicago, he made sure to tell reporter Megan Mawhicke: “I’m a guy that doesn’t shut up when I’m on the court… an energized team is a great team.”
Gafford has now drawn comparisons to the Bulls former Arkansas standout Bobby Portis due to his energy as well as current Rockets center Clint Capella more-so because of his playstyle. If you ask, Gafford will tell you he plays most like “Daniel Gafford,” but he is truly built like a current defensive NBA center, and he should have a long career ahead of him because of it.
If you don’t believe me, all you have to do is watch some game tape. I’m confident he can become a strong role player… even if that role is just standing there to throw down as many lobs as possible.
If STILL aren’t solid on what Gafford can do on the court, you can’t deny that he appears to be a great guy. Whether he is tearing up over his draft selection or picking out his own flaw in an interview, Gafford already acts like the player NBA team’s would want sitting on their bench every gameday.
Bulls head coach Jim Boylen pointed out that during Gafford’s pre-draft workout he was competitive, tough and took coaching. You can’t really ask for anything more from a player.
While Summer League doesn’t always provide the best look at NBA talent, I’ll still be excited to see whether or not Gafford strings together some highlight-reel plays. At the end of the day, his future progression could be just as fun to watch as White’s.
Watch Gafford’s full interview with CBS sports below.
"If the bench is too quiet, I'm the main one trying to get guys back into the game. That's how I've been all my life." That's what @ChicagoBulls newest center from Arkansas Daniel Gafford @Dan_G33 told @MeganMawicke in a one-on-one interview after being selected for the team. pic.twitter.com/cgGtUnZwhY
— CBS Chicago (@cbschicago) June 25, 2019