Before I begin to re-visit what we saw this season and what it could mean for the Bulls’ moving forward, I want to take a minute to shine some light on one of the offseason’s biggest events.
The 2022 NBA Draft set for June 23rd will mark only the second time Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley will make a first-round selection. Of course, the first time came back in 2020 when the Bulls’ new front office duo selected Patrick Williams with the No. 4-overall pick. Then, in their second draft at the helm of the organization, the pair watched their first-round pick net the Orlando Magic versatile Michigan forward Franz Wagner. Both the franchise’s 2021 and 2023 first-round picks were sent out during the previous season’s deadline in exchange for All-Star center Nikola Vucevic.
Considering the league prohibits teams from dealing first-round slots in back-to-back seasons, the Bulls are in line to take a player with the No. 18 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft this summer. Could they eventually choose to move this player after he is taken off the board? Absolutely, but I have to imagine Karnisovas and Eversley view this as a strong opportunity to add another young and impactful talent.
With a potential max deal headed toward Zach LaVine (and plenty of cash/assets still invested in players like DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic), finding a serviceable role player with upside on a rookie deal would be huge for this front office. Now, by no means is that a given in the mid-first-round, but if Karnisovas and Co. can grab Ayo Dosunmu with the 38th-overall pick, we do have at least some reason to believe he can make a wise choice in a more favorable position.
I’d also say the Bulls are in a pretty good place to draft for need. While it’s almost always advantageous to take the best player on the chart, that becomes a little less crucial outside the lottery. Not to mention, the Bulls should naturally have their fair share of options in this range that check off an important box.
In other words, if the Bulls are hoping to bolster their frontcourt with this draft position, they should have a decent selection of big men still on the board. The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie has LSU’s Tari Eason (F), Auburn’s Walker Kessler (C), Milwaukee’s Patrick Baldwin Jr. (F), and Wake Forest’s Jake LaRavia (F) making up 18-21 on his latest Big Board.
Names like Nikola Jovic (F) out of Serbia, Ohio State’s E.J. Liddell (F), and Christian Koloko (C) also remain on his board past this range. I know you may know absolutely nothing about some of those guys at the moment, but I’ll be sure to break down most of these prospects closer to the draft. The only point I’m trying to make for now is that frontcourt depth should be an easy target in this year’s draft.
Indeed, the latest ESPN Mock Draft does have the Bulls selecting LSU’s Eason off the board, and CBS Sports’ latest had them going with Kessler – Auburn’s seven-footer and shot-blocker. While none of this is directly reporting the Bulls as interested in either talent, I think we can all understand the assumption that the organization could look to improve in the rim protection and size department with this pick.
Let’s say we forget about need, though. What is the chance the Bulls can simply get a truly impactful player at this spot in the draft? Well, every draft is obviously different, but we’ve seen quite a few valuable players go 18 and later in recent seasons. In the 2020 NBA Draft, we saw Saddiq Bey, Precious Achiuwa, and Tyrese Maxey all go in a row from 19-21. The year prior we saw Matisse Thybulle and Brandon Clarke go 20 and 21, respectively. The 2018 NBA Draft had Lonnie Walker go No. 18, while Atlanta’s sharpshooter Kevin Huerter came off the board next.
Again, nobody is expecting to land a true star with a No. 18-overall pick, but we’ve consistently seen a handful of solid role players fall right in this area on the draft board. The Bulls could have an opportunity to find someone that is rotation-ready, and they must be ready to take advantage of that opportunity considering their offseason needs.
Anyway, we’ll talk way more about the draft as it nears. In the meantime, if you’re craving draft content, you can go ahead and look at all the early entry candidates for the upcoming draft here.