With the NBA Draft officially one month away, we’re only going to hear more and more about which players impressed in their interviews and workouts. Obviously, the combine in Chicago was a busy time for both these things to take place, and we’re finally starting to learn who the Chicago Bulls made time to meet with.
According to The Athletic, Baylor’s Kendall Brown and the G League Ignite’s MarJon Beauchamp and Michael Foster Jr. were on Arturas Karnisvoas and Co.’s list, so let’s talk a little more about where the Bulls’ interest in each might stem from.
Kendall Brown – Baylor
ESPN Rank: 26th
Based on what we know about the Chicago Bulls front office, Kendall Brown isn’t a surprising name to show up in the pre-draft process. A hyper-athletic forward who turned 19 years old earlier this month, Brown offers highly intriguing two-way potential thanks to his length and explosiveness around the rim.
All it takes is a quick view of his freshman year highlights to notice his constant activity off the ball and strength around the basket. He also showed promise as a downtown threat – albeit on low volume – shooting 34.1 percent from long range on 1.2 attempts per game.
The intangibles are there for Brown, but whether or not he can tap into all his game has to offer is a fair question. Most draft analysts described him as a rather raw prospect who needs to see his ball-handling and jumper improve mightily to truly take the next step. With that in mind, it’s hard not to dig deeper into Brown and think of No. 4-overall pick Patrick Williams. While there is no question Williams’ ceiling remains a lot higher, he entered the league considered by many as a “project” player, and I think Brown would check a very similar box.
Here’s a snippet from ESPN’s Jonathan Givony that touches on how much Brown still has to learn:
Not turning 19 until May, Brown’s raw offensive skill set and struggles defensively aren’t shocking considering his lack of experience, and he still has several intriguing attributes to hang his hat on as arguably the most explosive leaper in this draft class, with a 6-11 wingspan and some real flashes of passing and ability to defend one-on-one. Still, there are real question marks about what exactly Brown’s role will be early in his NBA career, and whether he has the touch to develop his jump shot, which will be a major key to his long-term development.
Considering both The Ringer and ESPN currently have Brown coming off the board with the No. 25 pick, I will not be shocked if he falls off the Bulls’ radar as the draft nears. With that said, we’ve seen Arturas Karnisovas and Co. not shy away from reaching for a super-athletic youngster in the past, so we’ll see.
MarJon Beauchamp – G League Ignite
ESPN Rank: 22nd
A six-foot-six wing with a seven-foot wingspan, Beauchamp offers one of the more intriguing body builds in this draft class. His combination of length and hustle could turn him into a top-tier perimeter defender.
A guy like Matisse Thybulle comes to mind when watching Beauchamp’s ability to guard multiple positions and stay locked on the ball. My Bulls-centric brain also can’t help but compare the swingman to Javonte Green. Beauchamp plays like an irritant with the endless hustle and willingness to make an impact by doing the little things.
The biggest question is whether or not Beauchamp can develop a reliable enough jumper to stay on the floor when the game matters most. He isn’t a threat from downtown at this point in his career, and adding that to his game could make him a real steal in this draft. Otherwise, Beauchamp will have to do the bulk of his work around the rim, a lot of which might have to come off strong cuts or put-back attempts off offensive rebounds.
We also can’t forget that Beauchamp will head into his first NBA season at 22 years old. While this can be a deterrent for some, I actually think it could be part of the reason the Bulls think extra hard about taking him off the board at No. 18. While Beauchamp’s jumper has to catch up, his size and motor should immediately translate into a big-league rotation.
The latest mock draft by CBS Sports does have Beauchamp headed to the Bulls in the first round, while most others project him to come off the board somewhere in the early 20s.
Michael Foster Jr. – G League Ignite
ESPN Rank: 61st
I have to imagine the Chicago Bulls meeting with Michael Foster is more about doing their due diligence than legitimate draft night interest. The 19-year-old, who played for the G-League Ignite this past season, isn’t even found in the latest two-round mock draft by Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman. Meanwhile, ESPN ranks him as the 61st best player in the 2022 class, and The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie doesn’t name him until No. 77 on his most recent Big Board.
We also have to consider the Chicago Bulls don’t possess a second-round pick. Sure, we can never rule out the idea of the Bulls acquiring one on draft night, but my guess is they hope Foster is there for them as a potential undrafted free agent signing (which could be unlikely after a solid combine).
A bulky six-foot-nine forward, Foster surely looked like an NBA player. He has a decent burst with a powerful ability to finish around the rim. I’d say what stands out most on the offensive end is his potential as a roll man. Not only does he look like a strong screener, but he has the vertical to easily finish the lob and the strength to convert through contact.
As for the other end of the floor, he should theoretically be able to switch onto small defenders and man the center position in today’s small-ball league. However, he isn’t the most refined shot-blocker and there is an overall lack of footspeed that will need to improve to get on the NBA court.
Jeremy Sochan – Baylor
ESPN Rank: 18th
Out of all the players listed in this post, I would label Sochan as the most likely to be off the board before Arturas Karnisovas has to pick up the phone. Not only did he seem to impress a very large audience at the combine, but he checks some of the boxes of a typical draft day riser: Youth, great size, two-way potential, and a relentless ‘give-a-sh*t’ attitude.
Considering the Bulls desperately need more frontcourt defense, interest in Sochan makes plenty of sense. The guy could likely step into an NBA game right now and hold his own. No, he isn’t the most explosive shot-blocker or rim-protector, but he can guard basically every position on the floor and could truly be the anchor for a switch-heavy attack. I was truly impressed with his ability to stay in front of small guards and put real pressure on the basketball without fouling.
Indeed, the only real questions about Sochan’s ceiling reside on the offensive end. He isn’t a real shooting threat yet, and he could struggle in the post against NBA size. What he does appear to offer, though, is some upside as an interior playmaker and mismatch driver.
ICYMI: We also wrote a little more about the Bulls’ interview with Bennedict Mathurin last week.
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) May 20, 2022