Jake's Draft Day: Chicago Bulls
Welcome to Jake’s Draft Day, a space where one writer whose passion for the draft greatly outweighs his knowledge gives advice to the experts who always screw these things up. For each team, I’ll establish some goals and their safe move, smart move, and Draft Day move, like the Kevin Costner movie “Draft Day,” not the Drake song.
Today, we address the Chicago Bulls.
Picks: 7, 22,
Goal 1: Don’t do something stupid
The people in charge of this decision, Gar Forman and John Paxson — affectionately known as Garpax — have a storied history of doing stupid things. So on draft night. They shouldn’t do that because that’s bad. They should do something smart instead.
Stupid things to avoid doing include: Drafting Michael Porter Jr., trading up to draft Marvin Bagley, trading Lauri Markkanen for the fifth pick or something.
Goal 2: Draft a wing to pair with (or replace) Zach LaVine
LaVine’s reputation was greatly helped by being traded for Jimmy Butler, for some reason. He is now being billed as a future number one guy on a good team, but there’s still a lot we don’t know there. The Bulls need a foundational piece on the wing that will convince GarPax to not match a max offer sheet for LaVine, if such a horrid thing comes across their desk.
The Safe Move
Draft Mikal Bridges at 7 and a high upside guy at 22
A lot of people will tell you this is too high for Mikal Bridges, but it’s a wing league right now and Bridges is the best wing in the draft. He definitely slots more into the “pair with LaVine” category than the “replace LaVine” one, but still.
Bridges could be an Otto Porter Jr. type — a fantastic third option — or even end up a Khris Middleton type — an overqualified second option. He slides cleanly into the Bulls’ young core and the pick just makes a lot of sense.
At 22, there will be some compelling options. I’m very fond of Ellie Okobo, the impressive point guard out of France. The Bulls should break into applause if the 21 teams before them fail to draft Troy Brown Jr., the massive shooting guard out of Oregon.
If they do end up drafting Bridges, they will likely look for a big at 22, and with the loss of Jontay Porter and Sagaba Koante, that may be a tougher task than expected. Mitchell Robnison would be an interesting gamble if available.
The Smart Move
Trade down from seven
The two guys the Bulls should consider picking at seven — Wendell Carter Jr. and Mikal Bridges — could both be available further down in the draft. The Sixers and the Clippers both have ways they could easily move up to seven, and may realistically want to.
If the Clippers offer 12 and 13, there can be no hesitation. Even though it’s unlikely Carter or Bridges would be available there, it’s too much value to pass up. You can come away with two of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Zhaire Smith,and Robert Williams, and feel great about your haul even before pick 22 rolls around.
I would also pull the trigger if the Sixers offer 10 and 26. You’re now looking at a chance to draft a top-tier talent in addition to two late firsts in a really deep draft.
This is, of course, under the condition that a Mo Bamba or Jaren Jackson Jr. don’t fall to seven.
The Draft Day Move
Trade down from seven….ONLY TO TRADE BACK UP
That’s right, folks. My brain is expanding. I’m looking at the draft with my third eye.
Trade pick seven for picks 10 and 26. Now you have three first round draft picks. Package those three picks and a fourth asset, and get on the phone with our good buddy Chris Wallace in Memphis and get yourself JJJ or Bamba. Hell, if you have a chance to get Luka Doncic, give up even more.