The Chicago Bulls entered the NBA Draft Lottery with the fourth-best odds at securing the top overall pick on Tuesday night, but would leave the evening extremely disappointed.
While the New Orleans Pelicans, Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Lakers all jumped into the top four, the Bulls fell all the way to the seventh pick, which could severely alter the team’s draft strategy come June.
The Bulls solidified their future at the head coaching position by extending Jim Boylen, and they have a young core of Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. that is as promising as any throughout the rest of the league.
But how will Chicago plan for this upcoming draft now that they have fallen into the back half of the top 10?
Here are three options for the Bulls with the no. 7 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft.
3. Select a point guard
The Bulls have expressed a desire to move on from current starting point guard Kris Dunn.
Although team president John Paxson said that Dunn would have the opportunity to compete for the job next season, Dunn lost the starting role to Ryan Arcidiacano by the end of the 2018-19 season, as has not made the kind of leap that Bulls management were expecting.
While Murray State point guard Ja Morant will be off the board (he is all but assured to go no. 2 to the Grizzlies) by the time the Bulls are on the clock, there are a pair of other top-ten projected point guards who may still be available: Coby White and Darius Garland.
White would be the “safer” selection. At the beginning of the year, North Carolina teammate Nassir Little was seen as the top prospect that would come out of Chapel Hill. But White quickly proved to be one of the best point guards in the nation.
The Goldsboro, NC native averaged 16.1 points, 4.1 assists and 3.5 rebounds, and was arguably one of the quickest guards in the entire country, routinely getting out to start the break for the Tar Heels and beating opponents in transition.
White shot a respectable 35 percent from beyond the arc, and his 6’5″ frame would give him a considerable size advantage over most other point guards in the league.
Garland, on the other hand, played just five games for the Vanderbilt Commodores before missing the rest of the season with a meniscus injury. Still, he has drawn comparisons to Kyrie Irving for his combination of ball-handling and shooting ability, and could give the Bulls another scorer in the backcourt to compliment LaVine.
The question is whether or not Paxson and Gar Forman are buying the upside.
2. Trade up
This is a more unlikely option for the Bulls. Both the Cavaliers and Suns (who have the no. 5 and no. 6 picks, respectively) plummeted from the top three, and given that both are in full rebuilds they are likely to keep their picks.
That said, Chicago could look to package the No. 7 pick with Dunn or future picks in an attempt to move up and give them some more flexibility.
If they move up, they could look to select a player like DeAndre Hunter, the University of Virginia standout who can play the two, three or four and would give Chicago a more stout perimeter defender.
Again, much of this is contingent on what the Bulls are looking to do in free agency. They may also be content adding some frontcourt depth with a player like Brandon Clarke.
But trading up would give Chicago more options.
1. Package for a veteran point guard
If the Bulls would consider shopping the no. 7 pick, they might make inquiries to the Memphis Grizzlies on Mike Conley.
The Grizzlies had thought about trading Conley at the deadline, but decided to retain their starting point guard as a mentor for some of their younger players. Will they do the same with Morant waiting in the wings?
Chicago could trade their pick along with assets in an effort to secure Conley, whose game would perfectly suit the Bulls’ current personnel, and maybe even legitimize the team as playoff contenders.
The Grizzlies could get yet another top-10 pick while fully committing to their rebuild, while the Bulls would get an All-Star caliber point guard to inject some life into their own rebuild.
Regardless, Paxson and Forman would be wise to do a lot of exploring before Draft Night.