Wait, the Bulls also have the No. 22 pick in this NBA draft Thursday? Who knew?
OK, we all did, but there’s been so much discussion, debate and disagreement about the No. 7 pick that it’s easy to forget the Bulls also have the selection in the bottom third of the first round. The Bulls twice have had the No. 22 pick, 2015 when they selected Bobby Portis and in 1967 when they selected John Dickson. The latter played one season in the ABA.
Portis is probably the most popular profile of a player selected No. 22. He’s become a reliable sixth man type player, able to average double figures off the bench. Sure, there are players selected in the 20s and lower who become starters and All-Stars, even Hall of Famers. But they are the exceptions. If a team can get a high level rotation player from the bottom third of the draft, it’s a triumph.
Portis is one of the franchise’s best ever selections from the 20s in the draft since the 20s has been in the first round. These are the Bulls selections when they had a pick in the 20s in that period: Portis, Marquis Teague, Taj Gibson, Trenton Hassell, Dalibor Bagaric, Nikola Mirotic, Corey Benjamin, Keith Booth, Travis Knight, Jason Caffey, Dickey Simpkins, Corie Blount, Byron Houston, Mark Randall and Jeff Sanders.
Which is also why, as many keep asking, it’s difficult to move up in the draft by combining with a selection in the 20s. The history is the selection only occasionally produces a starter. It can, like with Gibson. And, of course, Jimmy Butler was a late first, but at No. 30. This is a reasonably deep draft for talent with indications that a team can get a strong rotation player almost all the way through the first round. The Bulls should be able to with the pick. They obtained the pick from New Orleans in the trade for Mirotic. Mirotic was selected No. 23 by the Bulls after a trade in 2011. He is listed officially taken by Houston. The Bulls official pick that year was Norris Cole, traded to Miami.
Although Bulls management has said they would select the best player available, as everyone says, I doubt they select a point guard. Yes, Oklahoma point guard Trae Young could be in play at No. 7. But Bulls vice-president John Paxson has talked about a wing player being a major need and desire. My guess is that player comes at No. 22. Of course with a team selecting No. 7, the pick depends on who is available and taken ahead of them. I can envision the Bulls using the No. 7 pick for a big man. If that occurs, then I see a wing, small forward player at No. 22. The reboot if there is no such player available should be a shooting guard since, as we know, you always need shooting.
Here’s a look at my order of picks at No. 22. These players are most likely to be there. There’s been talk about Villanova’s Donte DiVincenzo and Boston College’s Jerome Robinson, both shooting guards. All indications are neither will be available. I’d expect the Bulls would take either if he were there, but they seem the most likely to have definitely moved into the top 20. Portis was in mock drafts at the time mostly listed between 13 and 17. He “slipped” to No. 22, which isn’t far in this non scientific project. So a player not listed below could still slide to the Bulls.
Perhaps someone falls like Texas A & M big man Robert Williams, who is indifferent at times, or athletic Miami shooting guard Lonnie Walker. Likely, the Bulls would take them, though they probably won’t slip that far.
1. Chandler Hutchison, Boise State, Forward.
This guy is mentioned so much with Chicago you’d think he’s one of the mayoral candidates. He’s the 6-7 senior in the most ready to play category, which the Bulls have often favored. He was rumored to have received a promise from the Bulls at the Draft Combine and then stopped workouts. It’s doubtful the Bulls would make such a promise to anyone given the wide range of possibilities. But he makes sense with size, position and decent three-point shooting and passing.
2. Keita Bates-Diop, Ohio State, Forward.
Another more ready to play senior, a 6-8 player with good arm length and reasonable shooting ability and athleticism. With David Nwaba penciled in as starting small forward, the need seems obvious. Of course, the Bulls could end up drafting a wing player with No. 7, like mock draft favorite Michael Porter Jr. from Missouri. If that occurs, the Bulls probably opt for a shooting guard at No. 22 given the dearth of big men at the bottom of the first round. One considered at that level is 7-1 defensive stopper Mitchell Robinson, who had held his own playing against projected No. 1 pick DeAndre Ayton. But Robinson skipped playing in college and appears to be a big time project whom it’s doubtful would fit the Bulls plans.
3. Kevin Huerter, Maryland, Guard.
He’s another player with a supposed first round promise, but it’s unlikely he’d slip out of the first round. Most project him taken in the teens for his shooting, which is high level. But he had a hand injury and surgery on his shooting hand and is out two months. So perhaps he slips a few spots. He’d be ready for next season. The Bulls seemingly wouldn’t let him slip farther.
4. Grayson Allen, Duke, Guard.
I like the tough guys. Toughness often makes the difference to get through those long NBA seasons. There were issues with him kicking or tripping or pushing or whatever. The NBA doesn’t care. If he tries that stuff, he’ll hear back. But I like the not backing down part. He makes shots and isn’t afraid to take them. He’ll push guys and not worry about making friends. Finally, maybe a guy who won’t hug someone after he loses. Some mention Justin Holiday’s brother, Aaron, but the Bulls like Cameron Payne as backup point guard and still have Jerian Grant on payroll. I also like Jalen Brunson, but I don’t see the Bulls taking any small point guard.
5. Melvin Frazier, Tulane, Guard.
Considered a big time athlete who literally almost did jump out of the gym at the Draft Combine with the highest vertical. He became a pretty good three-point shooter, which is vital and is about 6-5. The athletic part would be important for the Bulls with so few transition athletic types. Another older player closer to ready.
6. Khyri Thomas, Creighton, Shooting Guard.
Oh, no! The next Doug? I still think McDermott can make it, if not big, pretty good. I’m not down on Creighton. Yes, another impressive three-point shooter. A little smaller at about 6-3 and 200, but also older at 22. Not an explosive athlete like Frazier, but a smart, controlled player.