The Bulls with the No. 7 pick in the 2018 NBA draft will select Duke center Wendell Carter.
Unless, of course, they take Villanova forward Mikal Bridges or Texas center Mohamed Bamba. Missouri forward Michael Porter? Alabama point guard Collin Sexton?
"We know we are going to get a player we like at No. 7," Bulls vice president John Paxson said Tuesday after the NBA lottery drawing at the Palmer House Hilton. "We got one last year (Lauri Markkanen). This event is what makes the lottery interesting. Good for Phoenix (No. 1), Sacramento and Atlanta (who moved up to Nos. 2 and 3)."
It wasn't a lucky night for the Bulls, or really a lucky month.
"Our expectation is whoever we draft will be a key component for us going forward starting next year."
- John Paxson
They had about an 18 percent chance to move into the top three in the draft from their sixth spot. But they fell to seventh when Sacramento moved ahead. Ironically, the Bulls tied with Sacramento during the season at 27-55, had won a post season coin flip for an extra lottery ball in the odds and the sixth spot. The Kings rose from seventh to second in the draft.
"You always want the best you can get," acknowledged Paxson. "We're going to be looking at these players and we are confident we are going to find a player at No. 7 we like and fits us going forward. I don't think there's much difference (between No. 6 and No. 7); there's varying positions in the draft. You have some big guys, you have some point guards, you have some wings. A lot of it will be determined by what goes ahead of us."
The consensus No. 1 player is expected to be Arizona big man DeAndre Ayton, who likely will be selected by home state Phoenix, which got the No. 1 selection. Early speculation is that athletic Duke forward Marvin Bagley will go second to the Kings and European star Luka Doncic third to the rebuilding Atlanta Hawks. Atlanta point guard Dennis Schroder has talked about wanting to be traded.
The Memphis Grizzlies took the biggest tumble to fourth in the draft from a projected second. They'll likely take a big man with the aging Marc Gasol, who could be traded. Probably Jaren Jackson of Michigan State. Then Dallas at No. 5 without a big man could go for Texas' Bamba. This is where in the draft the interest could be about once highly touted Porter. He had back surgery before the season, so interest will depend on his health and how he looks in workouts. Assuming he does some. Many top picks choose not to work out for teams.
Orlando at No. 6 traded their point guard, Elfrid Payton, last season. So it makes some sense for them to select Sexton, a fierce leader.
Which then could leave the Bulls to select from a group among the likes of Carter, Porter, Bridges and Oklahoma shooter Trae Young.
It's going to be a giant choice for the franchise.
"We talk about needs and we obviously have some needs, but most times we've gone down our board and we've taken the best player available," said Paxson. "Our expectation is whoever we draft will be a key component for us going forward starting next year.
"At the end of the day you don't want to do this again," Paxson added. "We still have a young team and we are going to be patient with it, but we do expect our players to take steps forward as players and compete at a high level next year. You expect natural growth from guys we gave a lot of opportunity to this year. Knowing what we know now having the No. 7 pick, we start a process of moving forward."