The Chicago Bulls are officially entering a new era.
After 11 years, the John Paxson-Gar Forman partnership is over, with former Denver Nuggets general manager Arturas Karnisovas taking over as team president and former Philadelphia 76ers executive Marc Eversley joining the team as Karnisovas' GM.
After an abundance of offseason speculation, the Bulls also parted ways with head coach Jim Boylen and will begin the hiring process in earnest.
Needless to say, this is a franchise in transition. That makes the upcoming NBA Draft Lottery all the more interesting for the Bulls.
The Bulls have had the seventh overall pick in each of the last two years, three if you include the Jimmy Butler trade that landed them Lauri Markkanen in the 2017 draft. They figure to pick around that range once again this year, barring any kind of surge in the lottery.
But no matter where the Bulls land in the draft, these are crucial first steps for Karnisovas and Eversley.
Chicago had playoff hopes this season, only to succumb to injuries and internal turmoil. They have a number of intriguing young pieces, though it remains to be seen whether the likes of Markkanen or Zach LaVine are true franchise cornerstones.
The Bulls' future is at a crossroads, but new management can get the ball rolling with a successful draft.
Karnisovas has an excellent drafting track record, with the likes of former Nuggets draft picks Michael Porter Jr. and Bol Bol showing plenty of promise in the “bubble” in Orlando. Can he bring his acumen for talent evaluation to the Windy City?
Here are the five best lottery picks Bulls management might be considering as they look to get the franchise back on track.
5. F Deni Avdija, Maccabi Tel Aviv
Avdija is something of an unknown, though there is reason to believe he could rate highly on Chicago's draft board.
Karnisovas spent years as a scout in Europe, and the Nuggets plucked a pair of future European stars in Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic in 2014.
In other words, Avdija could certainly be on the Bulls' radar.
Avidja averaged close to 13 points and over six rebounds in Israel, and also showed a greater willingness to shoot from beyond the arc. More notably, Avdija only just turned 19 in January, and evaluators laud his upside as a playmaker.
Keep an eye on the Israeli native, who could fall just about anywhere in the top 10.
4. PG Tyrese Haliburton, Iowa State
Bulls fans might ask why Chicago would consider drafting another point guard, given it selected Coby White in the first round last year.
But while White showed flashes of brilliance at the end of the year, there are questions about his capacity to be a “true” point guard.
White can score and play with pace, but he does not have exceptional court vision and displayed some questionable shot selection last year. He might be better in a combo guard role much like Spencer Dinwiddie in Brooklyn.
Haliburton has excellent upside. He has size and length, and can shoot the three with tremendous efficiency.
The former Iowa State star averaged 15.2 points, 6.5 assists and 5.9 rebounds while also shooting nearly 42 percent from deep on 5.6 attempts per game. Haliburton also averaged 2.5 steals and hawks the passing lanes, though his off-ball defense could stand to improve, like most other young players.
Chicago might not opt for another point guard. But Haliburton could be the guy who can space the floor and set up his teammates while also crashing the glass. With Kris Dunn potentially departing in restricted free agency, it could make sense for the Bulls to bolster their depth at the position.
3. SF Saddiq Bey, Villanova
Perhaps Bey would be something of a reach if the Bulls land in the top 10, but they need wing players, and Bey does a lot of things well.
The former Wildcat experienced a massive leap in production from his freshman to sophomore year, averaging 16.1 points and 4.7 rebounds while also shooting 45 percent from deep on 5.6 attempts per game.
Bey is not the flashiest of scorers or shot creators, but he does things well on both sides of the ball, something the Bulls might want to look for if they are hoping for more of a rotation player than a future star.
Chicago has traditionally excelled whenever Otto Porter Jr. has been on the floor. Porter can space the floor and add length, despite not being the most outstanding offensive or defensive player.
The problem is, Porter has rarely been healthy, and he will be a free agent this coming offseason.
Bey might be the perfect guy to replace Porter, and his skills would seem to complement guys like LaVine and Markkanen quite well.
2. SF, Isaac Okoro, Auburn
Okoro is a different type of wing, but would still provide immense value to the Bulls.
The former Auburn star is particularly strong on the defensive end of the floor, and ESPN's Jonathan Givony suggested those qualities make him the best fir for Chicago:
The Bulls' new front office has some big decisions ahead, starting with hiring a coaching staff to help guide the franchise's direction. Setting the tone by selecting the prospect many consider to be the best perimeter defender in the draft in Okoro would surely be a step in the right direction. Okoro has the toughness, unselfishness, versatility and athleticism to play a role immediately on the wing for the Bulls, where there is a clear need on the roster.
Okoro's lack of shooting prowess might make his stock as uncertain as Avdija's.
The 19-year-old shot just 28.6 percent from deep on 2.5 attempts per game, though he showed an ability to finish around the rim and get out in transition.
But, as Givony noted, this pick might be more about fit than anything else.
LaVine made strides on the defensive end of the floor last year, but he is still a lackluster defender. White had plenty of off-ball lapses, and Markkanen could be rather slow of foot in the post.
Okoro's reputation as an excellent perimeter and help defender might help his teammates improve on that end, which might make all the difference for the Bulls.
Plus, it is not as if Okoro will not hone his shooting ability in the pros.
1. F Obi Toppin, Dayton
It might seem like a no-brainer to select the NCAA Player of the Year and Wooden Award winner. But Toppin's value to the Bulls goes beyond that.
The former Flyers star is an elite athlete on both ends. He excelled as a rim runner, but also made 39 percent of his threes on 2.6 attempts per game.
Moreover, Toppin offers positional versatility. He can play a large small forward with the athleticism to match other wings and wreak havoc in the passing lanes, or he can be an undersized four-man who can still crash the glass and be a deterrent around the rim.
Drafting Toppin would allow Chicago's new head coach to mix and match personnel based on their strengths, while also giving the Bulls another capable floor-spacer who can play with pace and score in the open floor.
Of course, the essential question is whether Toppin will fall to the Bulls, wherever they land in the draft. If he does, he might be the best choice entering this new era.