Niko Mirotic is gone from the Bulls, so what's next?
Hello Bulls fans,
The All-Star break is officially over and it’s time to focus back on finishing this season strong. The core of Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, and Lauri Markkanen are back together after Dunn’s extended absence from a concussion. A lot of people are still aboard the tank express train for this young team but as of now it’s not looking good for a top 5 pick. I’m here to tell you that there are some really talented guys in this draft that can be had even if we aren’t at the top half of the first ten picks.
Since the last time we spoke the Chicago Bulls made the move most of us were hoping for in order to help with the tank this season. A trade with the New Orleans Pelicans was completed to send Nikola Mirotic to NOLA for a package that includes a conditional 2018 first round pick. The conditions on the draft pick is that it’s top 5 protected this season, which means if they somehow end up in the top 5 this draft they keep their pick. As of right now the Pelicans own the 16th pick of the NBA draft and we can all hope for a losing streak on their end. They currently hold the 8th seed in the West and if they miss the playoffs the Bulls will hold two lottery picks.
A lot of us were hoping for Marvin Bagley III, Deandre Ayton, Michael Porter Jr, or Luka Doncic in the 2018 Draft. There are some pretty viable options for us if we don’t magically have a Derrick Rose-esque miracle and we win the lottery with like .8% chance of it happening. The players I like outside of the top guys are Jaren Jackson Jr, Mohamed Bamba, and Mikal Bridges. There is a fourth option but I’ll discuss that option in a little bit.
Jaren Jackson Jr is a 6’10 power forward at Michigan State University. He’s very fluid running the floor and can finish above the rim with ease. There is some untapped athletic potential from him that can be brought out through the NBA training and conditioning he will receive. I’ve seen him guard some centers but he can guard power forwards very efficiently. There’s room to grow offensively that’s for sure, but that’s the reason why he’s not a higher draft selection choice. He has a quick first step and a fairly decent amount of post moves. I would be okay if we aren’t top 6 or 7 and select Jaren with our first selection this year.
The center position is a huge need for the Chicago Bulls in this rebuild. Robin Lopez has been a pretty good player for us but it’s time to get younger and more athletic. Lauri Markkanen needs a frontcourt partner to pair up with and unfortunately Deandre Ayton will either go number one or two overall. The second most intriguing big man prospect that has also been trending up all season is Mohamed Bamba out of Texas. Mohamed is very light on his feet, a good defender, and an excellent rebounder. He’s also super athletic with long arms and can get down the court quite efficiently. As of right now he’s averaging 18 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 blocks a game. The two things I’ve found interesting about his game is that he can step out and shoot the 3 and he’s a good free throw shooter as well. The Chicago Bulls would find themselves fortunate to secure a talented ascending young player like Mohamed Bamba to anchor the Center position.
The other position the Bulls need to fill in the starting lineup is small forward. Last summer a lot of us had dreams of Michael Porter Jr. but it’s likely he would be selected before us if we continue this trend of winning games. Enter Mikal Bridges, a junior from Villanova who would come in with winning experience to fill the roster void. Bridges is an excellent 3-point shooter who would immediately fit in this offense and make things much easier for Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine. The part about his game that goes unnoticed is that he’s an excellent perimeter defender. He has the quick feet to stick with guards, the timing and mentality to fight bigger, stronger frontcourt players and the length to smother anyone. Some people believe that because he is 22 years of age he doesn’t have much upside, which I think is silly. This guy would immediately be an upgrade at the small forward position and could help expedite this rebuild.
The last option that would be on the table for the Chicago Bulls is to trade up and grab the guy they feel like is the necessary piece for the franchise. Let’s say the Pelicans miss the playoffs that would give us the draft capital to move up in the lottery. Some of the general managers from the other teams would be willing to trade a lottery pick for two-lottery picks right? This is just a scenario that can happen if there is conviction about a certain player that can come in and immediately make an impact for the franchise.