Could the Bulls draft Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman, or LaMelo Ball?
Sam Smith takes a closer look at three of the top prospects expected to be taken near the top of the 2020 NBA Draft.
Remind Me Later •
With the 2020 NBA Draft less than a month away, three prospects project to be taken 1-2-3 in some fashion as the Bulls hold the No. 4 selection
There was Bird, McHale and Parish, Magic, Kareem and Worthy and LeBron, Wade and Bosh.
There was Crosby, Stills and Nash, Mo, Larry and Curly and Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Some Big Threes were great; some perhaps infamous.
And now comes the 2020 NBA draft with the projected Big Three of Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball and James Wiseman.
And the Bull holding selection No. 4.
Which perhaps is part of the problem. Not so much that they cannot get one of those players. But what to do if one is there, and that he engenders more caution than celebration.
Nothing has occurred with the draft class in the last seven months, though most are now conducting team Zoom interviews. If it's about personality, then Jared Dudley probably would have been a lottery pick. So teams mostly are feeling around like someone with a blindfold in a bakery. Be careful what you reach for.
Which is why there have been rumors/speculation/misdirection lately (take your pick) about some of the top prospects, mostly with Ball and to a lesser extent Edwards.
Ball doesn't come off too well in the video interviews since he generally projects an air of how bothersome he'd find it playing against mere mortals like Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Wilt Chamberlain. There's the family history and the fact he skipped most of high school and childhood, and he likes to have the ball pretty much all the time. His talent, especially as a facilitator and personality, is impressive. But how much do you want to entrust him with your team?
Similarly with Edwards, who doesn't seem to generate those concerns. He has a set of his own, namely that his teams lose more than they win, his idea of shot selection often eschews the presence of teammates and his percentages have rivaled dates trying for a stuffed animal at the state fair.
Oh, and by the way, neither much believes defense to be their job.
Perhaps this is a little harsh since they are teenagers and could be All-Star NBA talents in four or five years. Or not. Which is one reason why the draft, especially this year, is so difficult.
Which gets back to the Bulls and want happens if one of those players falls to No. 4, the rumors suggesting lately more likely Ball than Edwards?
Coup like Giannis or Kawhi falling to 15? Or now what?
Personally—though I've yet to be asked—it seems most likely Wiseman will be selected before the Bulls pick because he's unique in this draft. Sure, centers are not supposed to be as valuable these analytical days. But the long, athletic, talented ones still are good to have. Ask Daryl Morey.
So let's consider the possibilities for the Bulls.
Imagine if Edwards falls to No. 4. He's a powerfully built 6-5 scorer who probably is most ready for the NBA among the top five prospects. There are all sorts of reasons a great player plays for a losing college team. Ben Simmons did at LSU. Though it still isn't comforting, and Simmons isn't processing as well lately.
The upside comparisons are players like Boston's Jaylen Brown and Washington's Bradley Beal, both also relatively poor three-point shooters in college with Beal at about 34 percent and Brown below 30. The other comparisons are ball dominant scorers who took away from their teams, like Isaiah Rider and Dion Waiters.
But just what would the Bulls do with Edwards given they have Coby White, who appears ready for a breakout season, and Zach LaVine, already one of the league's top scorers and a far better shooter? Would it mean trading LaVine? And then starting a backcourt with two so inexperienced youngsters? You don't draft a player top five to make him a reserve. And if you start Edwards with White at point guard and perhaps move LaVine to wing, and then with Lauri Markkanen's average defense, Wendell Carter Jr. probably would foul out in the first quarter. The way the Denver Nuggets, Arturas Karnisovas' former team, were built was with a defensive component matching all that offense. It's difficult to see the next Bulls iteration without that.
The 2010-11 Bulls were a championship team that didn't win. They were only good enough to, a great team like Shaq's Magic which didn't get the chance to stay together. Those Bulls led the league in wins with Derrick Rose, a star who wasn't a top defender. Coach Tom Thibodeau was OK with that. Rose did some other stuff pretty well. I always remember Thibodeau saying you could have two guys who don't play defense as long as you have three who do. With Joakim Noah and Luol Deng, Thibodeau needed one more. And so what if the shooting guard, Keith Bogans, couldn't shoot? He did that other thing. Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson in reserve helped. You can have great scorers. But not just that.
Though few at this time expect Edwards to fall out of the top three.
Not so much with Ball, who is making a lot of teams nervous.
He's probably the biggest name in this draft and will generate the most attention. Even if his father remains mute. He's got potential for a floor game like Magic Johnson's with flair and creativity. And while Magic was drafted into the NBA as a teenager, he won basically everywhere and had the basketball stability and maturity of teammate Kareem.
LaMelo not so much with a season overseas during high school, another last year and almost ready to endorse sneakers before he could wear them.
Want him to take over your team and make the decisions on the floor, especially because with so many young, impressionable players who are trying to get their own first big contracts? The 6-8 Ball is pass first, which the Bulls decidedly lack. But he also seems to be a passer when he's ready. He'll complete passes that lead the highlight shows. Pass on him?
That could be one of the biggest decisions facing the Bulls Nov. 18. What would you do? I can let Arturas know.
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