The 2020 NBA Draft will happen 112 days late.
Thanks to the sudden suspension of the 2019-20 NBA season in March, the entire league calendar has been pushed back significantly. With the season set to resume at the end of July, the NBA was forced to move the 2020 NBA Draft to October 15th, which will be only a couple of days after the conclusion of the season in Orlando, Florida.
With the draft now months away, teams have significantly more time than normal to evaluate the incoming talent, but that doesn’t mean they’re bound to be more prepared. As things currently stand, teams still can’t bring in 2020 draft prospects for individual workouts and there is no make-up date set for the combine. Of course, there is still a large window of time where both of these key evaluation processes might open up, but for the time being, NBA teams will be forced to act as if those luxuries will not exist.
For people like Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley, I’m sure that’s incredibly frustrating. Both of these new front office hires are known for having impeccable relationship building skills and a keen eye for talent. But while they can’t put both these things to use face-to-face, for now, they seem to be making up quite a bit of ground in the evaluation process. In an interview with reporters on Saturday, Karnisovas said the team has watched plenty of film and conducted “numerous interviews” with 2020 prospects.
Karnisovas said he envisions no further changes to the front office structure this offseason. Said he disagrees with the theory that it's not a good draft. Said Bulls have had numerous interviews with draft prospects.
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) June 6, 2020
Unlike last season’s individual workouts (remember how the Bulls brought in like 40+ people?), we haven’t received any sort of running list of names to which the team has spoken. I’m not saying that’s to be unexpected, but it sure is annoying. With such a confusing draft hierarchy, it would feel a bit reassuring to at least know some of the names the Bulls were thinking about. However, Karnisovas might just be speaking with a number of prospects to better understand what the team should look for. Besides, I doubt any conversation this early on has made a significant impact on how the Bulls would plan to draft.
Now, with all that said, we do know of one prospect that has reportedly spoken with the Bulls – Arizona’s Zeke Nnaji.
Former Hopkins HS and Arizona star Zeke Nnaji is in Vegas now to work with well-known NBA trainer Joe Abunassar. He'll be there throughout the pre-draft process. After today, he'll have knocked out virtual interviews this week with the #Bulls, #Sixers, and #Nuggets. pic.twitter.com/xbGdpgePuF
— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) June 4, 2020
According to KSTP’s Darren Wolfson, the Minneapolis native has now met virtually with the Bulls, 76ers, and Nuggets. Funny enough, those other teams happen to be the previous homes of Karnisvoas (Nuggets) and Eversley (76ers). Coincidence? I think not.
Nnaji’s one year at Arizona was more than enough to put him on the map. The six-foot-eleven forward averaged 16.1 points and 8.6 rebounds over his 32 games with the team. He shot 57 percent from the field and recorded 14 double-doubles on the season. Overall, ESPN has him ranked as the 8th best power forward in the draft and the 35th-overall prospect. And this ranking seems to be right on the money. In mock drafts, Nnaji is typically right outside the first round, so perhaps the Bulls are looking at him as a trade-uppable (which totally isn’t a word) second-rounder.
Nnaji is pretty much your standard low-end prospect who has clear NBA potential. He has the mobility to play along the perimeter and the size to easily slip in underneath the basket. The guy is raw, there’s no doubt about that, but he can be a nice plug and play frontcourt piece that will always bring the energy. The only problem with that? The Bulls just drafted Daniel Gafford.
I will say this though, as much as I like Gafford, it’s possible Nnaji gives the team a little more versatility. He has an established jumper and the odds of him becoming an actual “okay” 3-point shooter are fairly decent. But we shouldn’t jump to conclusions and say there isn’t a world where these two can co-exist. After all, Nnaji is more used to playing PF, and if Karnisovas wants to move on from Thaddeus Young or Luke Kornet, Nnaji could be a solid replacement/developmental piece.
Okay, I should stop myself before I go down a rabbit hole. The draft is still over four months away and Nnaji isn’t necessarily in the Bulls’ range. I’m just happy to see a prospect come into the mix though, and hopefully more name trickle out soon.
Until then, give Nnaji’s highlights a watch and form your own opinion: