Joe Cowley’s annual ‘Mock Draft Surely to Go Wrong by Pick No. 4’
Unless Bulls executive Arturas Karnisovas has a major trick up his sleeve, the first round of Thursday’s NBA Draft will be all but empty for the franchise. What could have been? A Jalen Suggs if winning meaningless games at the end of the regular season wasn’t a priority.
Winning meaningless games in the last two weeks of the regular season obviously had value for the Bulls.
What exactly that value was is yet to be determined.
Meanwhile, the Raptors had their own set of values.
They folded up the tent — shutting down any player capable of winning an NBA game — and became the poster boys for tanking.
Their reward is the fourth overall pick in the July 29 NBA Draft that could’ve belonged to the Bulls.
Instead, the Bulls fell out of the top four and had to turn their first-round selection over to the Magic from the Nikola Vucevic trade.
A misstep? Yes, a major one. And speaking of missteps, it’s the perfect introduction to the annual “NBA Mock Draft Sure to Go Wrong by Pick No. 4.” The very spot the Bulls missed out on.
1. Detroit Pistons
Cade Cunningham, PG, Oklahoma State
Think Ben Simmons potential if Simmons actually worked on his shooting. The big play-maker could be a generational talent.
2. Houston Rockets
Jalen Green, SG, G League Ignite
Evan Mobley will be hard to pass on, but Green has centerpiece scoring ability and has proved to be an underrated playmaker.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers
Evan Mobley, C, USC
The versatile 7-footer can make an impact on both ends of the floor for the up-and-coming Cavs as well as play alongside Jarrett Allen.
4. Toronto Raptors
Jalen Suggs, PG, Gonzaga
Damn, Suggs would’ve looked great in Bulls red. Instead, he’s taking his ability to the Great White North.
5. Orlando Magic
Scottie Barnes, SF, Florida State
If there’s a team that could try to move up, it’s the Magic, who hold two of the top eight picks. If they can’t, it will be Barnes, who has separated himself from the next tier.
6. Oklahoma City Thunder
Jonathan Kuminga, SF, G League Ignite
The are many flaws in his game, but the ceiling is ridiculously high for an organization that likes development.
7. Golden State Warriors
Davion Mitchell, PG, Baylor
The dynasty window is closing, and it’s time to get a bit more defensive before it shuts all together.
8. Orlando Magic
James Bouknight, SG, Connecticut
The Magic use the Bulls’ pick to grab an elite shooting prospect who’s coming off a red-hot showing at the combine.
9. Sacramento Kings
Franz Wagner, SF, Michigan
The Kings are building around their backcourt but desperately need versatile wings who will help out with one of the worst defenses in the league.
10. New Orleans Pelicans
Corey Kispert, SF, Gonzaga
The best shooter in the draft will give Zion Williamson some much-needed paint space to operate.
11. Charlotte Hornets
Keon Johnson, SG, Tennessee
LaMelo Ball gets a new toy with 48-inch bounce to go along with high-flying Miles Bridges. Plus, Johnson can defend.
12. San Antonio Spurs
Jalen Johnson, SF, Duke
Johnson is a high-ceiling prospect who needs to be coached hard to reach it. Has star potential.
13. Indiana Pacers
Josh Giddey, PG/SG, Adelaide (Australia)
Not only can the combo guard take some playmaking pressure off Malcolm Brogdon, but he has uncanny court vision at 6-8.
14. Golden State Warriors
Kai Jones, PF, Texas
This feels like a pick the Warriors can trade, but if they keep it, a project such as Jones would be perfect.
15. Washington Wizards
Moses Moody, SG, Arkansas
With Bradley Beal trade rumors always out there, it would be nice to grab his possible replacement, one of the younger players in the draft.
16. Oklahoma City Thunder
Alperen Sengun, C, Besiktas (Turkey)
The big man fits all of Sam Presti’s analytics and would have time to develop with the sputtering Thunder.
17. Memphis Grizzlies
Chris Duarte, SG, Oregon
The Griz are building a deep roster, and they add another rotation weapon to the backcourt.
18. Oklahoma City Thunder
Usman Garuba, PF, Real Madrid (Spain)
After going offense and analytics with the first two picks, Presti adds an intense, elite defender to the rebuild.
19. New York Knicks
Sharife Cooper, PG, Auburn
Cooper put on a show at the combine, and rumor was coach Tom Thibodeau was impressed with his playmaking and ball-handling.
20. Atlanta Hawks
Ziaire Williams, SG, Stanford
Williams can turn into an All-Star or be out of the league in three years. Worth the gamble, however, considering his upside.
21. New York Knicks
Trey Murphy III, SG, Virginia
An outstanding outside shooter who can also plug in and defend? Check and check the Thibodeau boxes.
22. Los Angeles Lakers
Isaiah Jackson, PF/C, Kentucky
A speedy rim-runner with shot-blocking ability to back up oft-injured Anthony Davis.
23. Houston Rockets
Jared Butler, PG/SG, Baylor
The medicals have all checked out, and Butler is a combo guard who knows how to impact winning on both ends of the floor.
24. Houston Rockets
Day’Ron Sharpe, C, North Carolina
A solid showing in the predraft camp and a lack of bigs at this spot could have Sharpe going this high.
25. Los Angeles Clippers
Cameron Thomas, SG/SF, LSU
Kawhi Leonard is always an enigma as far as his future in L.A., and Thomas just gets buckets.
26. Denver Nuggets
Joshua Primo, SG, Alabama
The timetable for Jamal Murray’s return next season is uncertain, and Primo was impressive in predraft workouts.
27. Brooklyn Nets
Tre Mann, PG, Florida
Spencer Dinwiddie opted out, and Kyrie Irving is always injured. Mann is a solid prospect at this point in the draft.
28. Philadelphia 76ers
Quentin Grimes, SG, Houston
A great combine for a perimeter shooter. If Philly plans to keep Ben Simmons, the more shooters the merrier.
29. Phoenix Suns
Jaden Springer, PG, Tennessee
With uncertainty surrounding Chris Paul and backup Cameron Payne, the Suns need the next point guard in waiting.
30. Utah Jazz
Nah’Shon Hyland, PG, VCU
Mike Conley could be on the move, and Hyland can shoot from any range.