Sam Smith projects who the Bulls might take in the 2020 NBA Draft
A look at who may be available to the Bulls in the first round of the NBA Draft, including international prospect Deni Avdija.
Remind Me Later •
Sam Smith projects the players likely available should the Bulls land the No. 7 pick, the spot they're currently slated for in the preliminary draft order.
The number 7 long has been considered perhaps the most special number in various cultures. There are seven days, seven seas, seven wonders and seven continents. Most yearn for seventh heaven with its utopian symbolism. Seinfeld character George Costanza was saving Seven as the name for his first born son. Seven has been magical, though the Bulls would love to move on — especially up — from the number in the next NBA draft.
The Bulls, as we know, have selected with the No. 7 pick in the last three NBA drafts.
They've done well with Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr., and perhaps special with Coby White. It's not like even knowing all the players who came after in the last three drafts the Bulls would make very different selections.
It's uncertain still what will become of the rest of the NBA season because of the virus. But at a 22-43 record, the Bulls in the No. 7 spot in the preliminary draft order. That almost always changes based on the draft lottery, which usually occurs during the second round of the NBA playoffs. It's still scheduled for May 19. The draft still is scheduled for June 25. In recent years, the Bulls have dropped several places to No. 7.
Recently I looked at the general consensus—which we know isn't scientific - and anticipated the top four selections in the coming draft.
My preliminary analysis had, in some order:
Anthony Edwards, Georgia shooting guard. James Wiseman, Memphis center. LaMelo Ball, International point guard. Obi Toppin, Dayton power forward.
It's still basically the conventional wisdom among NBA executives.
All project as high level NBA starters, if not elite stars who can carry a team. Those players generally come along in perhaps two or three drafts every decade. It's still uncertain regarding Zion Williamson from last year. Otherwise, perhaps cases can be made on some level for Luka Doncic, Joel Embiid and Anthony Davis during the last decade.
My analysis from this draft if the Bulls were to move into the top four (32 percent chance versus 52 percent for the bottom three teams) is for Ball or Wiseman. I like the 6-7 Ball as a facilitator to run with White and Zach LaVine or Wiseman as the missing athletic seven footer and athletic defender.
But what if the order remains the same and the Bulls once again get the No. 7 selection?
Time to add kosher meals to the Advocate Center menu?
There's generally a surprise player who begins to climb up the draft boards as teams switch into full-time scouting analysis. It's complicated this season because teams will not be bringing in prospects for workouts. The NBA is allowing video interview sessions, which can't determine much. Plus, the predraft camps seem to be unlikely.
So the eyes of many have turned toward the rest of the world. The success of Doncic — and Giannis Antetokounmpo, who likely is headed for a second consecutive MVP award — is no coincidence. Perhaps the NBA previously didn't take international players seriously enough? OK, they definitely did not. But in the copycat league tradition, most teams are now anxious to make up for that oversight with intense focus on other leagues.
And so this year coming flying up the draft boards is Deni Avdija, a versatile 6-8 small forward from Israel.
He's the hot name these days with some of the mock drafts projecting him as high as No. 2. I doubt that occurs. He's very talented, but he's not Doncic. At 6-8, Avdija is the classic size for a wing player. He's excellent with the ball off the dribble both making plays and finishing. He's on the thin side, especially compared with Doncic. But Avdija seems like he can be a reasonably good shooter. He probably wouldn't get past the Bulls at No. 7, especially given the team's need for a wing scorer and playmaker. Despite the recent enthusiasm, he could get to No. 7 given the uncertainty and quality of the top seven or eight prospects for this draft.
So here's my Nos. 4 to 8 in no particular order after the top four. One of these players should be available to the Bulls unless it's another disastrous lottery slip. But aren't the odds finally in favor of getting some good lottery luck?
Onyeka Okongwu. You're thinking, "Oh no! Not another 6-9 center!" But he's unusually powerful, explosive and athletic. And a developing prototype. The Bulls are getting to the point where they are going to have to make some decisions on their primary front line players, Markkanen and Carter. Though they've mostly experienced uncommon injuries, both have had problems staying on the court. The Bulls still are missing that seven footer to offset some of the East's big men. Okongwu offers unusual quickness, power and athletic ability that is more reminiscent of a new archetype, Bam Adebayo, who became an All-Star. Okongwu appears to be even more powerful.
Isaac Okoro. The 6-6 wing player from Auburn isn't as skilled with the ball as Avdija and a bit smaller. So, yes, it's looking a bit like there are six top players and then a bit of an eye-of-the-beholder view. Which is where good scouting comes in and you can get your Donovan Mitchell, Domantas Sabonis, Pascal Siakam, Malcolm Brogdon, Zach LaVine, Khris Middleton, Nikola Jokic, Devin Booker, Jimmy Butler and, of course, Giannis and Kawhi Leonard. Okoro has a developing shot and a defensive edge. He probably plays more inside the three-point line, but will run the floor and give a two-way look like Butler.
French point guards. There's two. Remember, we didn't think much of Tony Parker. And he never could make a three. They're both about 6-5, Killian Hayes and Theo Maledon. Hayes is generally ranked higher on the mock draft guessing boards. Though I prefer Maledon for the way he moves with confidence and maturity in the open court.
The next group generally comes in a bunch with North Carolina scoring point guard is Cole Anthony, 6-5 scoring guard RJ Hampton, who played in New Zealand, and another 6-5 point guard in Tyrese Haliburton from Iowa State.
If it's No. 7 again, well, at least they're not Snow White's suggestions. So just stay away from mirrors. Hopefully the Bulls didn't crack one three or four years ago. I read once you can undo that seven-year curse if you take the broken pieces and submerge them in a south running waterway. So maybe it's the fault of those Army engineers who reversed the flow of the Chicago River. Yeah, that could be it! Stay with me here.
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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.