My favorite part about the media mock drafts we all consume days and weeks before the draft, though it is particularly egregious with the NFL models, is the fluidity.
It’s not as common in the NBA where Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren and Paolo Banchero basically have held steady as the top three picks for Thursday’s NBA draft.
With the NFL it’s laughable as ESPN each week generally declares, a “new No. 1.”
How does that happen? Do they win more coupons at the Chuck E. Cheese football throw?
It does occur in the NBA, as well, though more for the selections like where the Bulls are at No. 18.
I called a colleague because I don’t subscribe to ESPN to ask who they had the Bulls selecting at No. 18. On Monday, he told me it was Jalen Williams, the versatile Santa Clara wing. On Tuesday, he called to say ESPN had switched to Ohio State shooting guard Malaki Branham. We speculated that Branham may have switched his fork to his left hand in a dinner with a team to show his ambidexterity, if also the ambiguity.
The Bulls have several apparent needs, like size, especially in the frontcourt, perimeter shooting and physical play. Which pretty much summarizes NBA basketball. So it’s not surprising that a half dozen or more players have been regularly linked to the Bulls at No. 18.
The most popular choice has been Ohio State forward E.J. Liddell, a more-ready-to-play undersized, physical forward compared to Paul Millsap.
Which is another of my favorite parts of the pre-draft process. Players generally are compared to All-Stars and Hall of Famers. Few are compared to busts. If you listen to the ESPN draft broadcast with Jay Bilas, just about every player selected sounds like he’s headed for the All-Star game. It’s rare when there’s a hesitation, like in 2014 when Fran Fraschilla after the Toronto Raptors selected Bruno Caboclo at No. 20 said he was two years away from being two years away from helping a team. Front offices don’t like to hear that on draft night. Fran’s not on TV anymore. Now with his fourth team, Bruno remains more than two years away.
Jalen Williams was popular as a Bulls pick for awhile. Then there was some Tari Eason and now some Ochi Agbaji.
Here’s a glance a day before the draft at some of the mock drafts. Which I assume will change in the next few hours.
Sports Illustrated: Ochai Agbaji
Bleacher Report: Ochai Agbaji
NBA Draft Room: Ochai Agbaji
USA Today: Ochai Agbaji
Covers.com Ochai Agbaji
ESPN: Malaki Branham
Basketball News: Ousame Dieng
NBAdraftnet: Tari Eason
Basketball News: Tari Eason
Tankathon: Tari Eason
Netscouts Basketball: Tari Eason
Ringer: E.J. Liddell
NBC Sports Chicago: E.J. Liddell
Sporting News: E.J. Liddell
SB Nation: E.J. Liddell
24/7 Sports: Jean Montero
Yahoo: Jeremy Sochan
NBAdraftnet consensus: Jalen Williams
Stadium: Jalen Williams
The Athletic: Mark Williams
Rookie Wire: Mark Williams
HoopsHype TyTy Washington
CBS Sports: These guys are clever as they have four guys picking. Last week the picks for the Bulls were Jean Montero, Walker Kessler, MarJon Beachamp and Malaki Branham. This week the same four were Jalen Duren, Kessler, Beauchamp and Branham. They seemed to add a fifth voice who selected Ousame Dieng. I do like some of the CBS mystery shows, so this fits perhaps not so much who done it, but who’ll be it.
Got a question for Sam?
Submit your question to Sam at email@example.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.