Up until NBA Commissioner Adam Silver utters the words “with the No. 4 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, the Chicago Bulls select …” the draft rumors will keep flying.
So far, the Bulls have been connected to just about every plausible draft night scenario – staying put, trading up, and trading down – and all from fairly legitimate sources, too. Prospect wise, the possibilities have become a little less versatile, with most recent reports and mock drafts having Deni Avdija or LaMelo Ball wearing a Bulls jersey next season. However, there is no reason we should expect things to stay that way between now and draft night.
After all, on The Lowe Post Podcast, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony said that Chicago has the rest of the league confused (somewhere, Arturas Karnisovas unveiled a devilish grin):
“They’ve done a really good job of kind of keeping their options open. Even the agents of the players at the top, they have no idea. Usually, by now the agents have a pretty good idea of where their guys stand with each team. Nobody really knows where they stand with Chicago.”
Like I said, Avdija and Ball have received the most press, but we already have reason to believe that new names will gain some traction over the next few days. The Athletic’s John Hollinger threw point guard Tyrese Haliburton back into the conversation in his latest mock draft, projecting the Bulls to pick him at No. 4. Then, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor really shook things up on his most recent episode of The Mismatch.
“We’ll see where he [LaMelo Ball] goes on draft night, but from everybody I talk to, and I trust my sources, who knows where he is going to go. It could be one – maybe Minnesota makes a trade. It could be No. 4 to Chicago, we’ll see what happens, or maybe he slips past there because Chicago does also like Patrick Williams, they like Deni Avdija.”
Hello, Mr. Williams. Glad you could join us.
As far as I know, this is the first time we have seen the Bulls listed as possible suitors for Williams. And O’Connor didn’t just mention this in passing, he doubled-down on Chicago’s interest in the Florida State forward multiple times. In fact, he mentioned that Williams is one of just three players he’s heard sources legitimately connect to Chicago, the two others being Haliburton and Avdija (that’s some good news for LaMelo Ball haters).
If Williams went as high as No. 4, it would probably come as a pretty big shock to a handful of NBA fans. In fact, I bet there’s a good chance a portion of people reading this don’t even know who the guy is. Williams has long been a popular prospect for hardcore NBAers, but he is just now beginning to move further up draft boards. Indeed, the Bulls could (probably) trade down to get him later in the first round – though, to be clear, this particular connection *was* about the No. 4 overall pick, and he has been mocked around No. 7 overall lately.
So what took so long for him to climb up in the rankings? I’d say probably the fact that he is the youngest prospect in this class.
Williams just turned 19-years-old in August and is practically the definition of a raw talent. While he clearly belongs in the NBA, his first-year stats at Florida State will not jump out at you. Over 29 games he averaged 9.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.0 block per game. Why so underwhelming? Well, he didn’t start a single game in college (which feels like a very weird thing to say about a potential top-10 pick). Despite all of that, though, he’s been projected as a mid-to-late lottery pick. As a small forward who checks in a 6’8″ and 225 lbs, Williams has arguably the most intriguing body in this draft. He is an athletic freak who has already shown the potential to be a very solid all-around talent. No, he currently is not *great* in any one area, but it’s not hard to think of several areas he could eventually prove elite. The guy is fascinating.
Most would agree when I say Williams should be considered a far bigger project than someone like Tyrese Haliburton or Deni Avdija, but that is kind of right up Arturas Karnisovas’ ally. Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray were both considered very young project players when the Nuggets brought them on board, and I think it’s safe to say we are now seeing what investing in that talent can get you after a couple of seasons.
Another good example of the patient approach came when Karnisovas selected Michael Porter Jr., who didn’t even suit up for his first full season in the league. Let’s remember, Karnisovas made player development an immediate focus when he took over the Bulls gig. Potential picks like Williams are the reason why.
Anyway, it’s time to add Williams to the must-watch list over the next couple of weeks.
While I search for more rumors, check out his highlights …