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.

SHARE Joe Cowley’s annual ‘Mock Draft Surely to Go Wrong by Pick No. 4’
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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.

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