The Chicago Bulls are in full rebuild-mode, but outside forces seem determined to hurt their “tanking” efforts. Chicago is currently 21-42, good enough for eighth worst record in the league. That means that the Bulls are currently projected to have the eighth overall pick in the upcoming NBA draft. While the eighth pick is not terrible, Chicago is certainly looking to move up and into a better spot to secure a better prospect. It also helps that the Bulls also own the New Orleans Pelicans’ 2018 first-round pick, which was projected to be the 15th overall pick when Chicago traded Nikola Mirotic for it. The rebuild was going relatively well late into the season, but it now seems like All-NBA forward Anthony Davis’ stellar play and NBA Commissioner Adam Silvers’ tanking warnings will play vital parts in hurting the Bulls rebuilding process.
When Chicago acquired the Pelicans first-round pick, it seemed like it would really help the rebuild. Having two picks in the top-half of the draft allowed the Bulls to fill holes in the rotation they desperately needed to fix and add more young prospects to add to their roster, along with Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and Lauri Markkanen. The pick seemed like it would only get better when star big man DeMarcus Cousins went out for the year with a torn Achilles. However, Anthony Davis had other ideas about the future of the Pelicans’ season. Due to Davis’ incredible performance as of late, New Orleans has won nine games in a row, jumped up to fourth in the Western Conference standings, and have had their projected draft pick fall to 24th overall. The 2018 draft class is extremely top-heavy, and a pick as far down as 25th yields much less talent. Chicago needs every bit of talent they can get in the draft, but Anthony Davis is only hurting their chances as he springs himself into the MVP conversation.
The second person looking to hurt the Bulls’ rebuild is NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. After Chicago moved Robin Lopez and Justin Holiday (both of whom have been starters for a majority of the season) out of the rotation, Silver issued a warning to the Bulls and the rest of the league for their tanking efforts, stating that future infractions will lead to penalties, including losing draft picks. Now that Chicago’s hand will be forced to play better players, there is a chance their own pick in June will come later in the draft.
The Bulls had the rest of their season mapped out with many, many losses, but it seems like Adam Silver has a different idea of how the Bulls should end their year. Silvers’ warnings, along with Anthony Davis making the Pelicans draft pick worse, are seemingly making Chicago’s rebuild that much more difficult.