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Sports Saturday

Bulls aren’t only team in East to strut out of NBA Draft

Arturas Karnisovas thinks the Bulls have a better squad now, but if the VP of basketball operations wants to have a team that isn’t picking No. 4 every year, he has some other teams in the conference to worry about.

Bulls vice president Arturas Karnisovas believes his team improved itself in the NBA Draft.
Bulls vice president Arturas Karnisovas believes his team improved itself in the NBA Draft.
AP

It was uncharted territory for Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas.

He was making the final draft decisions for an organization for the first time as well as picking fourth overall on Wednesday night.

“I never picked that high,’’ Karnisovas said, referring to his days in the Nuggets’ front office. “In the draft, when you pick fourth, you have to like four guys. In a way, it was a little bit easier than liking 20 guys.

“We realized that we’re hopefully never going to be in that situation again and pick that high.’’

That remains to be seen.

As good as the Bulls felt as they walked away from the 2020 draft with versatile forward Patrick Williams and a draft-and-stash player in Marko Simonovic in Round 2, there are a dozen other teams in the Eastern Conference that likely felt the same way.

The easiest way for Karnisovas to ensure that he’s not picking in the top five annually is to get better than those other teams.

That’s easier said than done because the East isn’t just sitting around and waiting for the AK takeover to bear fruit.

Milwaukee Bucks

Acquiring Jrue Holiday was the good news this offseason, but the botched Bogdan Bogdanovic deal was a bad look. Adding a shooter (Jordan Nwora) with a second-round pick was a solid move, but until MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo puts his name on a max deal . . . be afraid, Milwaukee, be very afraid.

POST-DRAFT GRADE: Incomplete

Toronto Raptors

Guard Malachi Flynn likely will become Kyle Lowry’s understudy as Fred VanVleet will be one of the more sought-after free agents in a weak class, and second-round pick Jalen Harris is a shot in the dark for an organization that has hit on those before.

POST-DRAFT GRADE: B

Boston Celtics

Collecting draft picks has become a hobby for Danny Ainge, and he cashed in on potential outside shooting this week, nabbing Aaron Nesmith, then Payton Pritchard as a backup point guard. An already elite team got slightly better even with Gordon Hayward opting out of a crowded forward spot.

POST-DRAFT GRADE: B+

Indiana Pacers

Malcolm Brogdon was really their first-round pick as they used that asset to acquire him, but grabbing the ultra-athletic Cassius Stanley in the second round was sneaky good. Stanley has a chance to be an impact player off the bench eventually.

POST-DRAFT GRADE: A-

Miami Heat

It’s as if Pat Riley has a machine that seeks out hard-nosed, tough-minded players to fill his roster. The latest is Memphis big man Precious Achiuwa, who could’ve been a lottery pick. He will be the perfect backup for Bam Adebayo.

POST-DRAFT GRADE: A

Philadelphia 76ers

They acquired outside shooters in Danny Green and Seth Curry and extricated themselves from the disastrous Al Horford signing. They also pulled Tyrese Maxey with the 21st pick. Outstanding.

POST-DRAFT GRADE: A

Brooklyn Nets

The Nets used their first-round pick to acquire Landry Shamet and are poised to challenge the Bucks for the top spot in the East with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving finally playing together.

POST-DRAFT GRADE: B+

Orlando Magic

Cole Anthony has a lot to prove after his stock fell so far since the start of last season, but the combo guard does have some solid weapons around him. Orlando remains a borderline playoff team.

POST-DRAFT GRADE: C

Charlotte Hornets

LaMelo Ball still can’t shoot and often ignores defense, but does he make the Hornets better? That remains to be seen. He does, however, make them an instant reality show.

POST-DRAFT GRADE: B+

Washington Wizards

If Deni Avdija proves to be better than the Bulls’ Williams, well, AK has some explaining to do. Then the Wizards added tough-minded Cassius Winston in Round 2. Solid.

POST-DRAFT GRADE: A

New York Knicks

The Knicks grabbed high-flying Obi Toppin, who is about to learn how to play defense from Tom Thibodeau — like it or not — then reached a bit on Immanuel Quickley. But the real news is shedding $40 million in cap space. Something big could be happening.

POST-DRAFT GRADE: B+

Detroit Pistons

Talk about jump-starting the flip-the-roster process. The Pistons might’ve had the best draft night of any team, landing Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart and Saddiq Bey and acquiring a future draft asset by moving Luke Kennard.

POST-DRAFT GRADE: A+

Atlanta Hawks

Onyeka Okongwu is undoubtedly a solid top-10 pick, but the Hawks already have Clint Capela and John Collins, who basically do the same thing.

POST-DRAFT GRADE: C-

Cleveland Cavaliers

Not drafting another point guard should earn them at least a B-. Adding defensive-minded Isaac Okoro, however, was a great move for a team that is still in post-LeBron James hell.

POST-DRAFT GRADE: A-