There’s an art to picking out tomatoes.
You have to pick one up without over-squeezing it. Look for bruises as it rests in the palm of the hand and hope it feels heavy for its size. Then give it a smell near the stem. It should have an earthy aroma.
Now imagine having to do all that on a Zoom call only.
Welcome to the 2020 NBA Draft, where you’ll find a handful of promising prospects and bruises aplenty.
“I disagree that it’s a weak class,’’ Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas said earlier in the offseason.
While Karnisovas seems to be in the minority in that opinion, there are growing numbers on his side. Several NBA decision-makers inside the lottery limits said they agreed with Karnisovas’ assessment of this season’s draft-lottery pool.
There’s talent on hand, but you’ll need unique methods to find it after the coronavirus shut down the usual evaluation process.
“I like the players,’’ Karnisovas said. “I like a lot of players that are in our range. I think we’ve done a lot of work and studying. The excitement is coming from studying those players and interviewing them and looking at the video. So I think we’ll add a good player to our roster next year.’’
Maybe, but the first step will be finding out where the Bulls’ range is.
That will take place Thursday, with the draft lottery scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
If everything stays the same, the Bulls would be in their all-too-familiar No. 7 spot, where they’ve ended up choosing three years in a row.
The chance of a fourth year? How about 19.7%?
The hope, however, is that rolling quadruple sevens won’t be the case. In 2008, in what turned out to be the Derrick Rose draft, the Bulls had a 1.7% chance of jumping from No. 9 to landing the top pick.
The rest was history. Or history until Rose’s knees betrayed his meteoric rise.
But that’s old-regime stuff.
With Karnisovas and general manager Marc Eversley headlining the new regime, the hope is sevens are behind them, no matter what the numbers say.
The chance of the Bulls landing the No. 1 pick is 7.5%, No. 2 is 7.8% and No. 3 is 8.1%.
All in all, the Bulls have a 32% chance to land in the top four.
Coincidentally, there seem to be four prospects who stand out from the rest of the players in the draft.
Landing in that top four means having a shot at Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman, LaMelo Ball or Deni Avdija. By no means are any of them considered generational players a la Zion Williamson and Ja Morant from last year’s draft, but they’re definitely the tomatoes with the least amount of bruising.
The Bulls have a 34.1% chance to fall back from seven and land No. 8, a 12.9% chance to get No. 9 and a 1.3% chance to drop all the way to 10.
The good news is the same player that a team might have wanted at No. 5 could very well be sitting there at No. 10, just because that second draft tier is basically a preference type of deal with little difference from a talent standpoint.
So what do all those percentages and odds really mean?
NBA scouting departments — especially the one belonging to the new-look Bulls — are about to get tested.