Not everyone thought “safe’’ was a bad word.
Definitely not Wendell Carter Jr. after the Bulls took their typical route and selected the Duke big man with the seventh pick Thursday in the NBA Draft.
“It just shows that all the work, all the dedication to play in this game, it paid off,’’ Carter said. “To say I’m the safest pick, it shows I’m going to do whatever it takes to come in and win. The Bulls recognized that, so I’m excited.’’
It’s good to see someone was.
This pick was standard Bulls fare: blueblood program, not the greatest athlete, jack of all trades and master of none.
Carter checked all the boxes that general manager Gar Forman falls in love with this time of year. And it didn’t end there.
With the No. 22 pick, Forman stayed true to form, selecting 6-7 Boise State forward Chandler Hutchison.
He doesn’t come from a blueblood program, but Hutchison is a four-year player — another trait Forman loves — and is not an explosive athlete. He’s a player who does a lot of things well.
In other words, he’s a safe choice.
And while Hutchison is going to need some serious work to develop into a rotation player, the hope is Carter will eventually develop into the perfect complementary player to Lauri Markkanen.
The 6-10, 263-pound Carter was one of a handful of prospects the Bulls brought in for a private workout this month, and they obviously loved the idea of adding more muscle inside to free up Markkanen.
The Sun-Times reported last month that the coaching staff was already refocusing more of the offense in Markkanen’s direction and thought that Carter’s strength, as well as his versatility, would help in that process.
“I definitely think we’ll complement each other very well,’’ Carter said. “Lauri is a fantastic young player, someone I can learn from on and off the court. We’ll complement each other on both ends of the court.’’
Carter has some serious questions surrounding his game. During his one season at Duke, he wasn’t even the best big man on the team. Carter played Robin to Marvin Bagley’s Batman, averaging 13.5 points and 9.1 rebounds. He scored 20 points or more in only four games.
He defended his time with Bagley on Thursday.
“I don’t think I’m overshadowed or undervalued,’’ Carter said. “I was playing alongside a great teammate in Marvin Bagley, and while people said I was overshadowed, I think on the flip side I just showed that I was able to play with another great player and do whatever it takes to help the team win.’’
Of course, Forman had only great things to say about both of his selections, as the Bulls’ rebuild enters Year 2. He didn’t, however, deny that both players fit the organization’s profile.
“In Wendell’s case, because physically he looks like a man, you don’t see that upside,’’ Forman said.
“We see that upside to him. We were very high on Wendell, and then when you look at his analytics — and we have 15 years of analytics in the draft — he’s extremely, extremely high as far as how he produced, the efficiency that he produced with, so it kind of validates the pick.
“We’ve got to draft who we think is the best prospect on the board that fits our program, fits our team, and we think Wendell is the guy that does that.’’