While Tuesday night’s draft lottery officially ended the Chicago Bulls’ dream of keeping their first-round pick, the 2021 draft preparation will not stop there.
The Chicago Bulls will head into July 29th with a second-round pick in their back pocket. We first learned the selection would likely come No. 38-overall back in May, when the league conducted its draft tiebreakers. The Bulls shared the same record with the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings, eventually ending up in front of both in the draft order. This had no direct impact on the lottery odds, but it did tell us the Bulls would pick after the Pelicans and Kings in the second round due to the order being flipped. However, thanks to the Nikola Mirotic trade in 2018, the Bulls hold a pick swap with the Pelicans, thus stepping into the No. 38 spot while the Pelicans move to No. 40.
Arturas Karnisovas has built quite the reputation with his use of second-rounders in the past. Not only did he draft this season’s MVP with the No. 41 pick in the 2014 draft while with the Nuggets, but he also added key rotation player Monte Morris with the No. 51 pick in the 2017 draft. Whether or not Marko Simonovic – Karnisovas’ first second-round with the Bulls – will pay off is yet to be seen. However, the 21-year-old big man did recently finish up quite the season in Europe, and it’s not hard to believe he could be in the running for a move to the states this offseason.
The draft and stash method is not one Karnisovas is afraid to use, but I would be a little more surprised to see him go that route this time around. Chicago might have up to nine roster spots open this offseason, and a high-upside second-round selection could be an easy way to fill a seat on the bench. The price tag is also very low for a player drafted in that spot on the board, so there should be no concern about it interfering with free agency/trade plans.
Oftentimes, we do forget that immediately helpful talent can come out of this area in the draft. Players like Vernon Carey Jr. (No. 32 – Hornets), Xavier Tillman Sr. (No. 34 – Grizzlies), and Saben Lee (No. 38 – Pistons) all played some key moments for their respective teams this season. In the draft prior, second-round selections like Daniel Gafford (No. 38), Eric Paschall (No. 41 – Warriors), and Terance Mann (No. 48 – Clippers) saw a similarly large role. Don’t get me wrong, no team will want to depend on a second-rounder as a key rotation piece right off the bat, but there is a chance to add decent depth for now and in the future with the No. 38 pick.
Some mock drafts have already started to dive deep into the second round. So, to wet your whistle, I’ll drop the link and players chosen for the Bulls below, but expect more individual breakdowns on potential prospects as the draft nears.
Mock Draft: ESPN
Player: Roko Prkacin (Croatia)
Look, I’m just going to be blunt, I don’t know enough about Roko Prkacin. All I know is the dude has grown up balling on a big stage overseas and he currently plays for KK Cibona in Croatia. He seems to fit the AKME mold of a strong two-way player, and he also appears to be a pretty physical dude with solid fundamentals and an urge to dunk.
FWIW: Prkacin appears as a *higher* draft pick in both of the following mock drafts. In fact, in the one published by Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated, Prkacin cracks the first-round (No. 29).
Mock Draft: Sports Illustrated
Player: Greg Brown III (Texas)
Brown is one of those freak athletes who has an NBA-ready body but not necessarily an NBA-ready game. However, if we’ve learned anything from a guy like Daniel Gafford, it’s that playing hard can still be rewarded with playing time. And Brown plays hard. The 19-year-old averaged 9.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 1.0 block per game for a rather elite Texas Longhorns team last season. Interestingly enough, ESPN has him ranked right below Roko Prkacin as the 7th-best available power forward.
Mock Draft: USA Today
Player: Day’Ron Sharpe (UNC)
The Bulls need center depth, and they could do worse than taking a flyer on Sharpe. I’ve seen the UNC big man all over the draft board throughout the year, but he seems to be settling as the 30th-best prospect. He was a player I advised Bulls fans to watch before the start of the NCAA Tournament, and I remain interested in his fit for this future Bulls team. While there is no question he is raw on the offensive end, he could provide some off-the-bench rim protection and lob opportunities that counterbalance Vucevic’s skillset well.