A Brief History of the Chicago Bulls in the Draft Lottery

Could the Bulls win the No. 1 overall selection in the 2020 Draft? Crazier things have happened.
by Sam Smith
Remind Me Later
Draft 2020 | AT&T Bulls Draft Coverage

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Sam Smith revisits the two previous times the Bulls won the NBA Draft Lottery, landing Elton Brand and Derrick Rose, and recaps the Bulls' recent lottery results.

It happens for the Bulls about once a decade.

Is this the year the Bulls get the lottery luck again and move into the No. 1 position in Thursday's NBA Draft Lottery?

It happened in 1999 with Elton Brand and in 2008 with Derrick Rose. One for two isn't bad. At least in baseball.

In 1999, the Bulls had the third position and about a 16 percent chance of getting the first draft pick. The Bulls did get the top pick, unfortunately, in a draft with no so called franchise players.

The Bulls made the correct selection, if not the best followup.

The top of that draft was considered a four-player selection among Brand, Steve Francis, Baron Davis and Lamar Odom. It proved to be a generally weak draft with no long term All-Stars. Perhaps the best player was future prospect Manu Ginobili, selected 57th—next to last—by the Spurs.

Brand was the most conservative choice, a very good player with a limited ceiling. Francis initially looked like the best player with multiple All-Star starting selections. But his career was short after he refused to go to Vancouver, which drafted him. Davis previously had knee surgery and Odom was rumored to have drug issues, which occurred later in his career.

Brand did make two All-Star teams and averaged 25 points in a playoff series. But that was with the Clippers, who traded for him for the rights to the No. 2 draft pick in 2001. The Bulls used that pick for Tyson Chandler. The Bulls general manager accurately didn't believe Brand was good enough to lead a team to a title. So he gambled that a duo of seven footers in Chandler and Eddy Curry could. It went badly for the Bulls as both Curry and Chandler failed and Krause was replaced by John Paxson. Brand averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds in both his Bulls seasons. Brand had a strong run with the Clippers averaging more than 20 points over six seasons before a knee injury.

Elton Brand and Derrick Rose.

Two Chicago No.1 overall selections: Elton Brand and Derrick Rose.

The 2008 draft became the closest the Bulls were to a championship since the Michael Jordan era.

The Bulls tied for the third biggest all-time lottery leap, going from ninth to first with 1.7 percent odds in their first season of missing the playoffs in four years. The prize was a franchise star from Chicago, Derrick Rose, who went on to become the youngest MVP in league history.

The Bulls were able to build a team around Rose without another superstar player and led the league in wins in consecutive seasons and seemed on pace to win a title. But Rose suffered a serious ACL knee injury in the 2012 playoffs and never regained that elite form. He was traded following the 2015-16 season after the Bulls averaged 47 wins in his eight seasons with a five-year run of about 52 wins.

It was back into the lottery after the Rose trade and none or bad luck since.

The Bulls had the last pick in 2014, which became the only lottery since the weighted system in 1990 when no team changed position. The Bulls stayed at No. 14 and drafted Denzel Valentine. There was one All-Star taken after that pick, Toronto with Pascal Siakam at No 27. Caris LeVert was No 20 and Malcolm Brogdon was No. 36 in a relatively weak draft.

The Bulls picked well in the 2018 draft the next time they were in the lottery with Wendell Carter Jr. at No. 7. He has been injured, but shows considerable room for growth. But there was a big "could have been" that could have put the Bulls in position to select Luka Doncic. Would they have? We'll never know.

The Bulls and Sacramento Kings tied with a 27-55 record. The Bulls won the tiebreaker for the extra lottery ball chance to move to sixth. Sacramento's sequence of balls at No. 7, the loser of the tie breaker, moved up to No. 2 in the draft. The Kings selected Duke's Marvin Bagley after the Suns took consensus No. 1 choice Deandre Ayton. Kings general manager Vlade Divac, like Krause after the Chandler/Curry draft, lost his job recently. Atlanta with the No. 3 pick traded down to Dallas for No. 5 and a future No. 1 pick. Atlanta's selection, Trae Young, has become an All-Star. Doncic is already an MVP contender. The Bulls were that close to the No. 2 pick.

Coby White.

No. 7 overall selection in the 2019 Draft: Coby White.

Last year, the Bulls didn't get lucky again, though it didn't prove fatal. Coby White at No. 7 appears to be a potential All-Star selection. But the Bulls had bad lottery luck, falling three spots to No. 7 in the lottery drawing with two potential franchise players available at the top of the draft.

It was the most unexpected lottery drawing with three teams moving up at least six spots. New Orleans and Memphis each moved six places to get the No. 1 and 2 picks and future stars Zion Williamson and Ja Morant. The Lakers moved seven spots to No. 4, the pick going to Atlanta through the Pelicans from the Anthony Davis trade. The Hawks selected De'Andre Hunter.

NBA success generally is predicated on stars to build around, like the Bulls had with Rose in the 2008 draft and the Mavericks have now with Doncic from 2018. There doesn't appear to be that level of talented player in this draft. But history generally shows a team has a better chance at a special player in the top four than where the Bulls have been drafting recently at No. 7. And where they are slotted for now going into Thursday's drawing.

Bulls lottery history

Year Projected Pick-Actual Pick Player
1999 3-1 Elton Brand
2000 2-4 Marcus Fizer. Stromile Swift No. 2
2001 1-4 Eddy Curry. Kwame Brown No. 1
2002 2-2 Jay Williams
2003 7-7 Kirk Hinrich
2004 2-3 Ben Gordon. Emeka Okafor No. 2
2008 9-1 Derrick Rose
2016 14-14 Denzel Valentine
2018 6-7 Wendell Carter Jr. Mo Bamba No. 6
2019 4-7 Coby White. De’Andre Hunter No. 4

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.

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