The NBA Draft is TOMORROW!
Finally, weeks of rumors, conflicting reports, and pulling my hair out will come to an end. All things considered, we still know extremely little about what the Bulls plan to do with their No. 4 pick, but that has not stopped a consensus from forming in the mock draft community.
With less than a day to go before the draft tips-off, let’s take one last look at what folks are predicting around the league.
We’ve reverted to the mean. While the Israeli forward has been outshined recently by rumors of guys like Tyrese Haliburton, LaMelo Ball, and Patrick Williams, he has never failed to be a consistent presence in mock drafts. Now, on the eve of draft night, it appears most mock drafters have decided to turn back to old reliable.
All signs point to this prediction being fueled by a lack of knowledge rather than legitimate buzz. Avdija is just simply thought to be worthy of the No. 4 pick around the league, regardless of who holds it (and the Bulls did say they would pick the best player available, right?).
The 19-year-old has marinated for years in a professional environment as he’s most recently played with Maccabi Tel Aviv of the EuroLeague. Out of all prospects, except for maybe Obi Toppin, he is viewed as one of the most NBA-ready talents in the draft. His master of none quality sparks fear among some analysts, as does his inconsistent shooting numbers (especially at the free-throw line where he shot 55 percent – yikes). However, the argument could be made that his unanimous all-around skillset presents more opportunities to take a step forward.
The fact of the matter is, Avdija could probably play on an NBA squad tomorrow. The guy is a high-IQ player who gives effort on both ends, helps facilitate, and provides great positional size (6’9″ at the wing). He may be listed as a small forward, but can handle the ball like a guard and stack up against big men like a power forward. Considering the Bulls need for impact talent and wing depth, it’s not hard to see why people like this pick for Chicago. Not to mention, Arturas Karnisovas international basketball ties make this an obvious pairing (although, I do kind of find that to be lazy reasoning).
I think it’s important to note that we have yet to see any real connection between these two sides. As far as we know, Avdija has not interviewed nor worked out for the Chicago Bulls (he wouldn’t give the media any information about that). I’d say there is a good chance that is just Karnisovas wanting to keep things quiet, but it also could mean that all mock draft hype has been truly baseless. I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.
A little over one week ago, Ball to the Bulls was all the range. In fact, some even believed Chicago could look to trade up for the top-ranked point guard. However, over the past few days those rumors have calmed down, and now only one mock draft has him picked to end up in Chicago tomorrow night.
Considering the Bulls clear need for a true facilitator, there is certainly still a lingering belief that Chicago would be interested in Ball if he were to fall to No. 4. With that said, the most recent Ball news doesn’t bode well for a potential pairing. On a Zoom call with the media on Tuesday, Ball said he did not work out for the Bulls during the pre-draft process.
LaMelo Ball Says He Did NOT Work Out for the Bullshttps://t.co/oRW9zpQU2R
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) November 17, 2020
By no means does this tells us that Chicago would not draft him (after all, he could be lying), but it does suggest that the interest may not be what people thought it once was. Again, we know so little about the Bulls plans, though, so it’s impossible to rule anything out.
Noteworthy: If not Ball, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor writes that Avdija could be the guy.
Patrick Williams is on the rise. The Florida State wing has been one of the most popular names associated with the Bulls over the past couple of days. Mostly projected to go in the mid-to-late lottery there have been rumors around the league that Chicago could be willing to select him as high as No. 4. According to NBC Sports Chicago (who also made this prediction), one source even said that the Bulls have told Williams they expect to draft him if they hold onto their pick. FWIW: I’m not buying that.
Overall, it’s hard to tell whether or not this is some kind of weird, last-ditch smokescreen by Karnisovas and the front office. The Detroit Pistons have shown interest in him at No. 7, so perhaps there is a hope they could feel pressured to trade up. On the other hand, maybe the Bulls are just that interested. Karnisovas has shown that when he likes someone, he’ll simply go and get them.
Smoke with Patrick Williams getting out of hand.
Teams talking about Chicago eyeing Williams at 4, Pistons possibly making a promise at 7. Though still not sold Detroit passes on Haliburton if he's there. Okongwu going top 6 pushes someone down the board.
— Jonathan Wasserman (@NBADraftWass) November 17, 2020
Onyeka Okongwu has been another recent addition to the long list of prospects the Bulls are “reportedly” interested in. I’ve not seen this pick gain nearly as much steam as someone like Williams, but it’s hard to put any rumor over another.
NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson said the Bulls were “intrigued” by Okongwu, and all signs do point to him being available at the No. 4 spot. The Charlotte Hornets have been the only team ahead of the Bulls to be tied Okongwu; although, that connection seems to be weakening. Okongwu would be a drama-filled pick considering Chicago has Wendell Carter Jr. already on the roster to play center. Could this pick tell us that the Bulls will move on from the 22-year-old big man? I mean, one report has already suggested that the new front office views Lauri Markkanen as the less expendable of the two frontcourt pieces.