The Chicago Bulls have several needs headed into the upcoming NBA draft, including the Bulls’ biggest needs of shooting and athleticism. There are questions regarding the Bulls roster configuration — too many point guards on the team and not enough complimentary pieces for Jimmy Butler.
A big chunk of the Bulls’ roster feature restricted free agents who may not remain with the team. The two primary players who are restricted free agents are Nikola Mirotic and Cristiano Felicio. At least one of them are expected to be re-signed by the Bulls.
After that there is one big question that requires attention — should the Chicago Bulls trade Jimmy Butler? How the Bulls handle that will determine the direction of the franchise. If they trade him, they are accepting a full rebuilding project. If the Bulls keep him, look for another season of the same team, with some tweaks.
Jimmy Butler’s status around the league is at an all-time high these days. It is a guarantee that the Bulls will not find equal trade value for Butler, but a top pick, two players and additional draft pick would give them something to think about. The Bulls will have draft picks regardless what they do with Butler.
What direction the Bulls go in the NBA remains to be seen. Barring a Jimmy Butler a trade, forget about the possibility of the Bulls targeting Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, and Josh Jackson. Those prospects will be off the board by the time the Bulls are on the board at No. 16. The players the Bulls will be going after will be late-lottery prospects.
Instead of the Lonzo Ball’s of the world, the Bulls will be looking at someone such as Indiana’s OG Anunoby.
Anunoby is a player who could land in the later part of the lottery or fall to the low teens. He tore his ACL in January, according to the News-Sentinel. Despite suffering from the serious knee injury, Anunoby has the upside to become one of the better small forwards in NBA draft.
Another player who makes sense for the Chicago Bulls is Creighton’s Justin Patton. CSN Chicago is suggesting that Patton could be generating some buzz with the Bulls as a stretch-four, who can slide over to play center in a pinch.
For the Bulls, Patton would fill both of their needs of shooting and athleticism. Doug McDermott is the last player the Bulls drafted from Creighton and he did not work out the way they had hoped. Will that discourage the Bulls from taking Patton? That remains to be seen.
Patton is opening the eyes of the scouts (according to the Omaha World-Herald). He could be the sleeper in the draft according to Sam Vecenie’s of Sporting News analysis.
“The fact that he’s this good at so young of an age — the development curve seems to be a little bit higher. With Justin, I don’t think anybody thinks he’s a finished product … but you’re drafting him for what he could be at (age) 22.”
If Patton’s stock continues to rise, he may be off the Chicago Bulls’ draft board.
A Jimmy Butler trade changes things. If the Bulls decide to swing a trade it would open the door for Markelle Fultz or Josh Jackson. It is difficult to see Lonzo Ball as a player the Bulls would take due to his father LaVar Ball’s personality. That may be too much for the Bulls to deal with if they were to obtain one of the top picks in the draft.
The next few weeks will be huge for the Chicago Bulls. The NBA draft will only be the beginning.
[Featured Image by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images]