Players the Bulls could target if they move up in the 2021 NBA Draft

If the Bulls trade into the first-round of Thursday's NBA Draft, here are some players they might consider taking.
by Sam Smith
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The Bulls currently don't have a first-round pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. But there is always the possibility of trading up for one. Sam Smith examines potential first-round prospects who the Bulls might be interested in, including Davion Mitchell of Baylor and Ayo Dosunmu of Illinois.

Turkish center Alperen Sengun sounds a lot like the guy in the 2014 draft the scouts said might be a bit undersized for center and lacking foot speed would suffer badly on defense despite his high basketball IQ and clever play. The guy who slipped to the second round of that draft, Nikola Jokic.

Oregon guard Chris Duarte sounds a little like the guard from the 2016 draft who, likewise, was 24 years old. So he didn't project as an All-Star despite some two-way abilities and slipped into the second round, Malcolm Brogdon. Like another 24-year-old who despite being PAC-10 Defensive Player of the Year barely got into the first round in the 2009 draft, Taj Gibson.

The NBA draft isn't as much science as it is study and sense. So the most successful players aren't necessarily selected in numerical order.

Which means there is opportunity.

The Bulls do not have a first-round pick in Thursday's 2021 draft. But there are believed to be several available.

The speculation regarding the Bulls, as discreet as it has been, remains attached to the free agent market beginning next Monday, Aug. 2. The Bulls hold the No. 38 pick, eighth in the second round, Thursday.

Rumors are several teams would like to trade their first round draft picks, particularly Golden State with Nos. 7 and 14. The Bulls seem an unlikely match with the Warriors because of Golden State's lack of cap room and apparent desire for a high level veteran player to complement their core stars.

The teams with multiple first round draft picks and perhaps most likely to make one available are the Warriors (7 and 14), the Magic (5 and 8, the latter the Bulls pick from the Nikola Vucevic trade), the Thunder (6, 16 and 18), the Rockets (2, 23 and 24) and the Knicks (19 and 21).

The Clippers, Nets and 76ers in the bottom five of the first round also are are likely to be more interested in veteran talent along with the Lakers at No. 22.

Could the Bulls pry loose one of those first round picks?

Should they?

Are they trying?

The Magic and Thunder figure to use their picks being losing teams hoping to luck into a special young player. The Warriors likely are seeking bigger talent that the Bulls have available.

The Rockets with probably the league's worst roster also would seem likely to use the first round as a lottery to try and hit a jackpot. But they're probably also looking to shed some salary.

Would the Bulls have a chance to add one of the first round picks, 23 or 24, by taking on Eric Gordon and his $37 million for the next two seasons for a package with Al-Farouq Aminu, owed $10 million for this season, and Troy Brown? Gordon has been rumored in trade talks with the Pacers. But he's still a productive scorer and shooter. The Bulls still would have maneuverability in free agency.

Though the most likely possibilities would seem to be with the Knicks considering their desire for veterans and with so many free agents. Maybe someone like Tomas Satoransky since the Knicks are basically out of point guards and have considerable salary cap room. And even absorbing a veteran player from the Bulls would not keep the Knicks from being a major player in free agency.

So if the Bulls could trade their way into a first round draft pick, which certainly would not be in the lottery, what might be possible? Here's a look at some players who could slide to the middle or later in the first round.

Alperen Sengun, 6-10 center, Turkey.

He's a lottery player in many of the mock drafts, but there's that concern about being a bit undersized and slow and not much on defense, and seriously who expects there to be another Jokic? A little too much like Nikola Vucevic, who fell to No. 16? Like most drafts, once past the top 10 there's a lot of conflicting needs and ideas. But you can't have too many clever, all ‘round, hard working skilled players who sound at least somewhat like Jokic.

Chris Duarte of Oregon

Chris Duarte, 6-6 guard/wing, Oregon.

Yeah, but he's 24. NBA teams like mansions; you know, the high ceilings. He sounds a little like the Suns Mikal Bridges, a good shooter and tough defender who isn't going to be an All-Star and create and make plays. He has two-way skills, but his age will scare off some teams. Like it did rookie of the year Brogdon.

Davion Mitchell of Baylor

Davion Mitchell, 6-0 guard, Baylor.

The tough point guard who outplayed top five pick Jalen Suggs for the NCAA title has been on lottery radar since that big game. But with the draft the more they look, the more they tend to find they don't like. He's small, he only shot well the past season, he's really not a scorer, high turnover to assists, older with four years in college. So some teams might pause. But what a tough, fierce scorer and defender to add to your team.

Ayo Dosunmu of Illinois

Ayo Dosunmu, 6-5 guard, Illinois (Westinghouse and Morgan Park high schools)

Pair him with Derrick Rose off the bench? The NBA guys don't quite know what to make of the local kid, who had a tough finish to his collegiate career in the loss to Loyola. There's questions about his shot—good sometimes—and ball handling, also good sometimes. Though he's made plays with leadership abilities and varied skills. Nice to have around.

Cam Thomas of LSU

Cam Thomas, 6-5 guard, LSU.

The bucket getters in this draft are generally potential lottery picks like James Bouknight, Moses Moody and Corey Kispert. The evaluators will pick him apart and say not good enough athlete and not much on defense or passing. But he scores. In transition, spot ups, tough shots, odd shots, in traffic, through contact. And they do eventually add the points to determine the winner.

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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