Ask Sam Mailbag: PG options for the Bulls in 2020 Draft and more

Sam Smith continues taking mailbag questions about the upcoming Draft.
(from left to right) 2020 Draft prospects Killian Hayes, LaMelo Ball, and Tyrese Haliburton.
by Sam Smith
Remind Me Later
Draft 2020 | AT&T Bulls Draft Coverage

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Jaysen Alexander:

I feel the Bulls should select Obi Toppin or Killian Hayes. I see Deni as a bust. Killian Hayes' fit is obvious. However, I think Obi can play both forward positions. He reminds me a lot of Jabari Parker actually. They said the same things about Jabari's weaknesses as they do Obi's. If Parker didn't fall into Jim Boylen's doghouse he could have contributed a lot more. He actually played very well when on the floor sans the defense. I actually think Denzel Valentine could have contributed also but that's a story for another day. Additionally, as a GM, you have to take into account the possibility of signing a top free agent next summer considering the talent that maybe available. I know, I know the Bulls haven't been too lucky on that front in years past. But where would a player like Jayson Tatum (RFA) or Gordon Hayward (UFA), for example, fit if the Bulls took a traditional small forward in the draft (Deni)? Would you then sit Deni on the bench with Hutchison? The point guard free agent class of 2021 looks old and weak to me which would be another vote for Hayes. Btw Derrick Rose would be an excellent back up to Coby White and he's available in 2021!

Sam Smith:

Let's wait a year before we revisit the Rose return.

Hayes hasn't been much mentioned as high as No. 4, which as I've often mused is pretty much an arbitrary rating since there's no scientific method for determine draft order. I'm often cynical (more skeptical on my good days) about the NBA scouting process. I basically envision all these scouts sitting down to those nightly $400 dinners on the road and comparing lists so that none of their bosses will ask them why theirs was so different. There's no other way basically every team every year can rate the same dozen guys in almost the identical order. And then when we look at the drafts 10 years later the order isn't close. But the virus may change all that this year because nobody was able to go on the road and travel all over Europe for months to see some kid perhaps practice. Sure, they can Zoom, but maybe this year we see a variation without all those group workouts and expense checks.

I wrote Monday about forwards Toppin, Avdija and Okongwu. Though, as an aside, it's not a level playing field with Jabari. The Bulls obviously erred in signing him, but that was after two ACLs. Before that he was looking really good with Giannis. Better at least in talent than with Middleton as Giannis' No. 2. But the fit probably is better because Middleton only is an All-Star because he plays with Giannis. Jabari might have demanded the ball too much from Giannis (sort of like everyone's awkward fit with Westbrook) because pre-injury Jabari really was a highly talented offensive player. But, OK, what about those point guards? The generally accepted point guard draft order for now seems to be Ball, Haliburton and Hayes, all of whom could be available when the Bulls select at No. 4.


Kieron Smith:

Killian Hayes looks like a solid playmaker/shooter already at his young age. Where will he go?

Sam Smith:

I saw a consensus of a dozen mock drafts—which mean nothing, of course—and all but two had Ball going in the top three. The other two had him fourth. But the reality of this draft is you can find major flaws with basically every player in the top five considering Wiseman's inexperience (three games played in college) and build, Edwards' shooting and losing teams, Ball's likewise questionable shooting and lack of defense, Toppin's possible tweener size issues and defensive deficiencies and Avdija's limited length and curious shooting woes. Yet all with All-Star level upside.

Hayes, probably because he played overseas, had the widest range among the top players in those dozen mock drafts being projected between Nos. 4 and 14. He's very much left hand dominant and reminds me some of Cameron Payne, though taller. A Payne comparison is painful in Chicago, but also not so bad as Payne was a high scoring, athletic transition guard with a credible shot and selected in the lottery in a pretty strong draft. It was a bad situation when he came to the Bulls injured, though he recently played well in the "bubble" for the undefeated Suns. I'd probably take the risk with Ball if he got to No. 4 with the additional (eventual) attendance possibilities and potential. Haliburton appears sturdy, if unspectacular, and probably goes right as much as Hayes goes left with an awkward looking shot. Which does go in a lot. Haliburton seems safer; Hayes seems to have somewhat greater potential if also somewhat more erratic.


Zach LaVine and NY's Mitchell Robinson

Scott Lucas:

If Ball is still available to the Bulls at #4 do you think the Bulls would entertain a trade? I could see the Knicks being desperate for a potential star playmaker and the Bulls could use that to their advantage. In prior years we saw the Mavs give up a future 1st round pick to move up a few spots to take Luka. How about the Knicks' 1st rounder next year along with #8 for the Bulls #4? Or perhaps Mitchell Robinson and #8? The draft is always a crap shoot, and even more so this year given the impact of the virus. I'm not fond of the players listed as potential options for the Bulls at #4, assuming Wiseman is gone by then as expected. Avdija is being billed as a poor-man's Luka but Luka can get by with the lack of athleticism due to an outstanding shot, and Avdija's is very suspect (60% FT%?!). Ball could have star potential, but his shot is also suspect as is his decision making – which are two big problems for a PG – and that's not to mention potential maturity issues and/or off court distractions from his dad in a large market.

I like Toppin the most but his defense is poor and PF is our deepest position. Karnisovas has had success with picks later in the draft and seems to dispute the notion this is a weak class. There's always players in the later part of the draft who end up being among the top picks in look back re-drafts, and I expect that to be the case even more so this year. If Wiseman is gone I'd like to see a trade down and drafting someone like Haliburton, who plays well in the pick and roll, has great length for a PG, and has a good shot (50/42/82), while also adding another draft pick or player.

Sam Smith:

That Knicks moving up scenario started as soon as the lottery drawing was done, which often is part of the New York media machine since they have more outlets for uniformed speculation. I also heard they may have interest in bringing back Carmelo. If so, then you might be able to get the rights to their next 10 No. 1s for No. 4 because they would have signaled giving up. But since the Nuggets, when Karnisovas was there, traded down twice in the first round, I guess we have to consider the possibility. Though would Thibs want LaMelo? Part of the problem in a trade is the Knicks have such a weak roster. Robinson could fill a spot as that backup big man to match with some of the more athletic centers against whom the Bulls have had problems, like the Nets' Jarrett Allen. Karnisovas has said with this draft your favorite at No. 4 might be someone else's at 14. Say the Bulls wanted Wiseman, Edwards or Avdija and all were gone and didn't care for Ball. Then instead of a player, acquiring next year's Knicks No. 1 from a team almost certain not to be in the playoffs (I assume they'd put in some top three protection) for No. 8 could be very appealing if the Bulls, for example, were satisfied with Hayes or Haliburton (one should be available at No. 8), Okongwu, Okoro or maybe even Toppin with this draft more fluid and uncertain than most. It's a mad, mad, mad, mad draft world.

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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.

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