Hm: The Bulls Have Reportedly Spoken with Projected First Round Picks Scottie Barnes and Sharife Cooper

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Hm: The Bulls Have Reportedly Spoken with Projected First Round Picks Scottie Barnes and Sharife Cooper

Chicago Bulls

Two days after the Chicago Bulls officially lost their pick to the Orlando Magic, we got some interesting news.

According to Michael Scotto of Hoopshype, projected lottery pick Scottie Barnes has already interviewed with the Bulls organization. Likewise, first-round talent Sharife Cooper said he also spoke with the Bulls recently.

Draft combine events got underway on June 21st, which was one day before the league held its annual lottery. So, while it’s possible some of these prospects held conversations with teams in person this week, we should also remember that the interview process technically started earlier this month. The league released its early-entry list of all prospects on June 1st, thus opening the gates for teams to conduct interviews.

My best guess is that the Bulls spoke with both of these players prior to what happened in the Draft Lottery, and I would not be surprised if several other names previously had contact with the team. Regardless, whether it was before or after conveying the No. 8 pick, this still gives us an idea of two prospects in whom the Bulls have an interest. Also, the fact neither is projected to be a top-4 pick only adds to the intrigue.

Barnes is the higher-ranked of the two players. He is a combo forward who won the ACC Sixth Man of the Year Award with Florida State and has gradually moved up draft boards. Sound eerily familiar? I’ve seen a couple of mock drafts project him to go as high as the No. 6-overall pick, and ESPN’s draft rankings currently have Barnes listed as the 6th-best prospect. The similarities between him and Patrick Williams are obvious. Both possess elite size (6’9″ and 227lbs) and mobility that are perfect for a modern NBA forward. Barnes also benefits from an NBA-ready body that should make an immediate impact on the defensive end.

Unlike Williams, Barnes does not appear to have that go-to shot in the halfcourt. While Williams has strides to make on the offensive end, he at least flashed a promising mid-range jumper while also hitting the three at a solid rate. Barnes carries a bit of a wonky jumper, which resulted in just a 27.5 percent clip from the 3-point range this season. He likes to put his head down and drive to the rim, but he’ll need to develop a much more fluid jump shot to reach his full potential at the next level.

Where Barnes does have Williams beat is in the passing department. The Bulls No. 4-overall pick showed some really encouraging live dribble passes at times this season, but Barnes has already shown at the college level that he can be a true point forward. The guy averaged an impressive 4.1 assists per game off the bench.

Sharife Cooper came into Auburn as the 5th-best point guard of the 2020 recruiting class (per 247Sports). He is a small and speedy guard with great court vision, good body control, and a knack for getting to the free-throw line. There is no question he could have ended up directly under the national spotlight this season, but issues with his NCAA eligibility and an end-of-season ankle injury restricted him to just 12 games on the year.

In those dozen games, Cooper averaged 20.2 points, 8.1 assists, and 8.6 free-throw attempts per game. He is one of the best passers in the draft and could be an extremely interesting addition to the Bulls movement-based offense. ESPN currently has Cooper ranked 21st-overall, and The Ringer’s Draft Guide puts him as the 19th-best prospect. His poor size and lack of convincing 3-point shot could keep him in the 20s, which would potentially make him an easier get for the Bulls if they wanted to trade in to grab him.

Again, who the hell knows whether or not the Bulls will remain interested in these two prospects. We’re not sure when these interviews took place nor how much weight the organization put on them. All we do know is that the conversations happened, and even if it is simply the Bulls doing their due diligence, it is interesting to know what kind of talent they would think about pursuing if given the chance.

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Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.