This year’s NBA Draft is a pivotal one for the Chicago Bulls. The player they draft could make or break the speed of this rebuild.
The Bulls are destined to land a Top 4 pick come July. With the change in lottery odds this year, it would be nearly impossible for the Bulls to fall outside of this range. Now the question becomes, who should be selected? Who will be the next piece to bring this team to the next level–out of the basement and into playoff contention. There are two clear front-runners in this “race” and the Bulls couldn’t go wrong with either one.
Zion Williamson, F, Duke
The big fish in the pond. The cream of the crop. The consensus 1st overall pick, Zion Williamson. It is not hard to see why. Zion has been perhaps one of the greatest college basketball talents the world has seen in quite some time, even drawing comparison to His Airness, Michael Jordan himself. Many scouts have also touted Zion as the best NBA prospect since LeBron James. He’s 6’7″ 285 pounds. That is ridiculous for any basketball player. His production on the court only reinforces his case to be the 1st selection this summer. In 24 games so far this year, Zion is putting up 22 points per game along with 9 rebounds. This all comes on 68% shooting albeit a measly 29% from three. He is a human highlight reel. He’s a 99 overall Create-a-Player in a video game. Enjoy this ridiculous athleticism. On defense, Zion is just as good. He’s shown the ability to switch onto quicker guards and still effectively defend, as well as this CRAZY block where he ran from nearly the other side of the court to swat the shot. Back to the box score and you’ll see he is averaging just over two steals and two blocks a night. There is little weakness in his game outside of 3 point shooting, which he can try to develop at the NBA level similarly to the emergence of Giannis Antetokounmpo’s three-ball. Adding Zion could lead to a giant starting lineup of:
- PG: Zach LaVine
- SG: Otto Porter Jr.
- SF: Zion Williamson
- PF: Lauri Markkanen
- C: Wendell Carter Jr.
Sliding LaVine to point guard would be an interesting experiment. Over the last 4 games, he has over 20 assists and has shown real development with play-making as a whole. With Kris Dunn’s time in Chicago likely numbered, at least as a starter, the next best option (of those currently on the roster) would be to put LaVine at the 1 spot. The offense seems to flow better in game when Zach is the primary ball handler and having Dunn run at shooting guard. With Otto at the 2, the Bulls have a real shooting threat at most positions on the floor whereas defenses tend to not even guard Dunn around the arc. This kind of lineup would move the Bulls more towards the “Position-less Basketball” that is becoming more and more coveted in today’s league. Nearly every player on the court could guard the opponent, the exception being LaVine likely still being stuck on a guard. It can’t be a step backward to add Zion, but it would certainly shake up the lineup and rotations. Maybe for the better. Next prospect:
Ja Morant, PG, Murray State
Of the two options presented, Ja Morant is the more realistic choice as of now. He won’t be the 1st pick, but will surely be drafted among the Top 4. Morant is an explosive player. Quick first step, gets to the rim in a flash. Might even compare his explosiveness to Russell Westbrook. Not only can he score efficiently inside and from deep, but Morant has been one of, if not the top play-making guard in the country–putting up over 10 assists per game. In Murray States’ victory last night, Morant totaled 32 points and was responsible for 49 of his team’s 73. He’s no joke, unlike the last guard from Murray State *cough* Cam Payne *cough*. Oh and by the way, those 24 points a game he’s putting up is coming on nearly 50% SHOOTING. Now how would this lineup shake out?
- PG: Ja Morant
- SG: Zach LaVine
- SF: Otto Porter Jr.
- PF: Lauri Markkanen
- C: Wendell Carter Jr.
Once again, Kris Dunn is the odd man out. He hasn’t developed much this season and his recent cold streak has all-but sealed his fate with the Bulls. Ja gives the Bulls a scoring threat at every position on the floor. His passing skills would be very beneficial to Lauri Markkanen, and the starting lineup as a whole. Morant hasn’t proven to be a better 3 point shooter than Dunn, but he’s still shooting nearly 8% better from the field. He also is much better at drawing fouls and converting at the line. Drafting Morant would ensure Dunn’s role as the 6th man, at least for next season. That is a role that Kris could really benefit from. Ja Morant would give the Bulls one of the most explosive young back-courts in the NBA. Morant to LaVine alley-oops and vice versa would be a thing of beauty. It may become a reality soon enough.
What if Zion Williamson is no longer on the Bulls’ radar? It seems ridiculous to say such a thing, and I don’t believe it will happen, but with the trade for Otto Porter the wing spot is filled for at least the next two years. SF is no longer a position of need. If the Bulls land the 1st overall pick and Zion is no longer the priority, the smartest thing to do would be to trade down. Zion is believed to be a generational talent. The next LeBron. I’d guarantee that a team like the Cavaliers or Knicks would trade up to snag him and give up a future 1st to do so. It’d be similar to the trade the Mavericks sent to Atlanta to draft Luka Doncic. From a far-away view, Morant seems to be close to front and center on the Bulls radar. John Paxson has actually been at Murray State games scouting him. When Pax is at the games, its got to be serious. If the trade is there, take it. Even as a top talent, it would be a reach to draft Morant over Zion.
Again, I don’t believe the Bulls would pass up on Zion Williamson at this point in time. But if they ever decide to, they must trade back as Morant will still be available at the 2 spot.
Either way, GarPax are going to draft another talent to add to this core in the summer. Let’s just hope it’s one of these two.
Featured Image: Chicago Tribune