Tuesday came and went for the Bulls, and still not one player or coach had apologized for their six-game winning streak.
The Bulls have gone from having the worst record in the league before the streak started to tying the Kings for the fourth-worst mark.
The return of Nikola Mirotic and development of Kris Dunn have turned the front office’s rebuilding plan into a balled-up piece of paper ready to be tossed into the nearest garbage can.
“No one in here is worried about that,’’ Dunn said recently when asked about the team jeopardizing the hope for having the most Ping Pong balls in the lottery.
But there’s a good reason vice president of basketball operations John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman are plenty worried.
Scouts and NBA personnel have agreed that the 2018 draft has star potential. And the strength of it is in the first four picks.
A team drafting fifth or sixth may have to decide between raw 7-footer Mohamed Bamba or a point guard such as Collin Sexton.
The Bulls aren’t exactly in the market for a point guard. Dunn’s development and that of Jerian Grant as a backup made it easy to waive Kay Felder on Tuesday.
This is about sure things.
The top four spots seem to be occupied by the same four names. Five through 15 have talent, but they’re also a roll of the dice. The front office was planning to stay out of any dice games, but the winning streak, as well as the impending return of Zach LaVine, could seriously mess with the blueprint.
Trading Mirotic and adding draft assets will help, but landing one of these top-four players is essential to keeping the rebuild on schedule:
1. Marvin Bagley III, Duke: A better version of Chris Bosh? Maybe. Bagley’s athleticism jumps off the court. He has shooting range and runs the floor like a guard. Though Bagley is a tweener like Lauri Markkanen — too small to be a true center and big enough to be an oversized power forward — the middle has been shrinking around the league for the last three years. Fred Hoiberg would have no concerns playing Markkanen and Bagley at the same time.
2. Luka Doncic, Real Madrid: Is he a 6-8 point guard? Is he a shooting guard? Can he be a wing player? Euro players such as Mirotic and Paul Zipser couldn’t answer that. They did say that Doncic is “special’’ and everyone should be buying into the hype of a player who is considered the LeBron James of European basketball.
3. DeAndre Ayton, Arizona: At 7-1, Ayton does things around the basket that players his size aren’t expected to do. His skills for his size are freakish, and his shooting range continues to extend farther out. Defensively, he gets a bit sleepy at times, but he can change the look of a roster.
4. Michael Porter Jr., Missouri: He would have been the top player in the draft, but back surgery ended his season. The only questions about him are medical. If healthy, Porter Jr. would be the perfect piece for the Bulls. He’d slide right into the starting small-forward spot.
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