Ask Sam Mailbag: Bulls' young talent, Obi Toppin, Deni Avdija, and more.

Sam Smith opens us his mailbag to answer more questions about the Bulls' options in the upcoming 2020 NBA Draft.
by Sam Smith
Remind Me Later
Draft 2020 | AT&T Bulls Draft Coverage

Body

Jon Ruth:

I love how Karnisovas sees that the Bulls need to accrue talent. Do you get the sense that management is confident that whoever falls to #4 is all-star talent? Are we confident that our "young core" is full of all-star talent? If not, don't you think it makes sense to secure the #2 pick? In this draft, Edwards and Wiseman look like they're on another level.

Sam Smith:

I can't say I agree they are. They may be, but so may LaMelo Ball, Obi Toppin and/or Deni Avdija. Or maybe Florida State's Patrick Williams. There's a huge flaw, by the way, when executives say they'll take the best talent available. They should qualify that with whom they think will be the best talent. There is no standard in which the top five picks are the five best players. Zach is close to and perhaps should have been an All-Star. No one else on the Bulls roster projects that way. Yet. Things change as we've seen even in the small Orlando bubble sample with Jamal Murray to All-Star status. It often takes being overlooked a year, as Steph Curry and Damian Lillard were, before media and fans come around and give players their due.

A better team record will help Zach. But consider recent drafts: 2018 has two All-Stars in the top five picks, the 2017 draft has one, the 2016 draft two, the 2015 draft three, the 2014 draft one and the 2013 draft one. Only one of those drafts produced an All-Star at No. 1. Two drafts produced an All-Star at No. 2 and three produced an All-Star at No. 3. One produced an All-Star at No. 4 and one at No. 5. Maybe that's why Karnisovas said lottery night he wished he had No. 3.


Obi Toppin

Len Artick:

Imagine ‘Nique with better range. That's Toppin. I was thinking that upon watching him again, I'd be less impressed or find more holes in his game. Nope. He's going to be a star, period. The only question is whether he'll be able to improve his D. Needs to work on lateral motion, reading, positioning & footwork – yeah, most everything. But that's the only thing wrong. If he can become even an average defender, the rest of his game will knock you out. Toppin will challenge for the starting PF spot, and all I can say is Lauri better bring it. One thing about Toppin is that you can only play him at PF – too small for C and not fast enough to guard at SF. Deni; he's an excellent passer, but not a PG, in that he won't push the ball up-court as fast as you'd like. But he will run plays in the half-court and he can be clever with the ball. I've heard that his 3-pt. shooting has improved recently. If so, I'd say at this point he's a better Sato or a poor-man's Luka. It's really all about his potential; might be a very high ceiling.

Sam Smith:

If that's true about Toppin, take him! He's sort of a wild card in this draft in the sense he's generally not regarded in the top three despite the only real collegiate record among the top prospects. Most mock drafts project him between Nos. 4 and 8. In my post-lottery mock draft/guessing/speculation, I projected Toppin No. 3 to Charlotte as the safe pick considering the number of draft mistakes Jordan's Hornets have made. The conventional wisdom is the top three in some order will be Wiseman, Edwards and Ball. If that holds, then the Bulls likely will be faced with the big decision of duplicating their deepest position with Toppin, taking a high risk chance on Ball or what seems like the best position fit with Avdija, the latter who carries risk as well given his sometimes erratic shooting and lack of explosive play. Or go outside the box or risk a trade down for the likes of Okongwu, Haliburton or Hayes?


Deni Avdija

Trey Buck:

You gotta go with Deni Avdija; he can shoot the ball decently, not the best but has space to improve, he can attack the rim with strength and speed, he can dribble and he's very shifty, and also he's an amazing playmaker if you guys play this lineup:

PG - Coby White
SG - Zach LaVine
SF - Deni Avdija
PF - Lauri Markkanen
C - Wendell Carter Jr

That would fit perfectly, Deni could also play PF if it fits better, he's got the skillset for it but he can play SF perfectly fine too, you gotta chose Deni, he reminds me of a Ben Simmons with a decent jumper.

Sam Smith:

If Ben Simmons had a jumper he'd be Luka. We'll hold off on that level for Deni. That lineup seems appealing, though it's giving up a lot of points. Scoring the points, too, which looks a lot like this playoffs. Wendell would have to do a version of the White Sox Luis Robert being ready to cover all fields defensively. Avdija, Coby and Zach would be an intriguing offensive perimeter with multiple ballhandlers, playmakers and shooters. It also would seem as if Lauri would never get the ball again if he continued to stand around like last season. We assume that advice changes. Karnisovas has made clear he's not worried about position duplication if he believes that's the most talented player. I'm hardly dismissing Markkanen. I remember more those first two years and him absolutely dominating Porzingis in Madison Square Garden. That's not a fluke. It sure would seem like an entertaining offensive lineup.


Mario Hezonja

Rick Tanner:

Avdija is certainly no Luka, but I'm concerned if Avdija is closer to a Mario Hezonja (who certainly had hype coming over from Barcelona)

Sam Smith:

Or the next Omri Casspi? Actually, I have not heard many Casspi comparisons. Which may show some maturity among American media and team staff since we generally compare international players by country. Hezonja is a frightening comparison given that he was the No. 5 pick and a big time European star, a kid who was considered tough with a cocky attitude. But he got buried in the organizational mess that was the Orlando Magic at the time, falling behind multiple players as well and being switched between small forward and power forward. He has some similarities to Avdija as a 6-8, 6-9 wing player, though Avdija seems a little bit taller, smoother and more adept with the ball in transition and facilitating. This draft is not without risk in the top five.


Deni Avdija

Mike Rate:

Avdija is a terrible pick, but great for commercials: "I'm Deni and I wear Zenni"

Sam Smith:

Perhaps we'll need to adjust out prescription and take a closer look.

Got a question for Sam?

Submit your question to Sam at asksam@bulls.com

The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or its Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.

NEXT UP:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter