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

The Bulls don’t own a pick as of now, but stay tuned. Maybe, just maybe, executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas has a big swing in him leading up to next Thursday.

SHARE Joe Cowley’s annual ‘Mock Draft Surely to Go Wrong by Pick No. 4’
Big-man Victor Wembanyama is set to go No. 1 overall to the Spurs in the NBA Draft, but after that go ahead and start throwing darts at the board.

Big-man Victor Wembanyama is set to go No. 1 overall to the Spurs in the NBA Draft, but after that go ahead and start throwing darts at the board.

Franck Fife/Getty Imges

The ball is now in Arturas Karnisovas’ court.

A draft pick sure isn’t. The Bulls’ executive vice president of basketball operations made sure of that by trading draft assets for Nikola Vucevic back in 2021 and then opting to try to win games down the stretch rather than tanking to try to keep the possibility of a top-four protected selection in play. With no second-round pick thanks to the mistake that was Jabari Parker, the NBA Draft on Thursday (7 p.m., ABC-7 and ESPN) could be a very quiet one for Karnisovas & Co. But will it?

If Karnisovas was being transparent with the media during his end-of-season news conference back in April, continuity remains the goal. That means the Bulls could acquire a second-round pick or maneuver a late first-round selection with Portland that eventually will be owed, but the core will stay.

Executives are paid to lie, however. Could Karnisovas actually have a major face-lift planned, with potential trades of stars such as Zach LaVine or DeMar DeRozan for a package that could bring back a high draft pick?

Never say never.

So here it is, the annual Mock Draft Sure to Go Wrong by Pick No. 4:

1. San Antonio Spurs: Victor Wembanyama, C, France

Guess which one-time Western Conference dynasty is looking for a return to prominence? Wembanyama is one of the most-hyped athletes in recent history and could live up to all of it on both ends of the floor.

2. Charlotte Hornets: Brandon Miller, SF, Alabama

Could MJ be in on bringing Zion Williamson back to the Carolinas? The rumors are flying this time of the year. Miller is the safe selection, and could be an elite scorer at 6-9.

3. Portland Trail Blazers: Scoot Henderson, PG, G League Ignite

There’s more than just smoke surrounding Henderson, and this pick being traded. Could the Bulls be in on this spot? It’s not a short line.

4. Houston Rockets: Amen Thompson, PG, Overtime Elite

If James Harden is truly bound for a Houston reunion, then Cam Whitmore could be the pick here. Amen Thompson, however, has a ridiculous ceiling if he can get his jumper working more consistently.

5. Detroit Pistons: Cam Whitmore, SF, Villanova

Whitmore has surpassed Jarace Walker on the workout circuit and would be a huge boost to the wing defense.

6. Orlando Magic: Ausar Thompson, PG/SG, Overtime Elite

Here’s where AK and his front office should be focusing on. The Magic have a logjam at guard, and the whispers are Jalen Suggs would like to be elsewhere. Go get him, AK!

7. Indiana Pacers: Jarace Walker, PF, Houston

The backcourt is in good hands, and now it’s time to add some physicality to the frontcourt. Walker is that guy.

8. Washington Wizards: Anthony Black, PG/SG, Arkansas

Will the Wizards finally part with highly paid guard Bradley Beal? If so, it’s time to rebuild the backcourt, and that starts with Black.

9. Utah Jazz: Taylor Hendricks, PF, UCF

Black is on Utah’s radar, but if he’s gone the team also needs to add some more muscle to play alongside Lauri Markkanen.

10. Dallas Mavericks: Gradey Dick, SG/SF, Kansas

Again, a very interesting pick to keep an eye on as the trade rumors continue swirling around the Mavs.

11. Orlando Magic (from the Bulls): Noah Clowney, PF, Alabama

The reviews on Clowney have been mixed in the workouts, but he definitely has a Bobby Portis feel to his game.

12. Oklahoma City Thunder: Bilal Coulibaly, SG/SF, France

The Thunder reportedly have been all in on scouting “the other French player” in the lottery and could be looking to add the versatile playmaker.

13. Toronto Raptors: Jalen Hood-Schifino, PG/SG, Indiana

The Raptors need outside shooting and playmaking — especially if Fred VanVleet is on the move. Hood-Schifino has dazzled in workouts.

14. New Orleans Pelicans: Kobe Bufkin, PG/SG, Michigan

Would it be ideal if Hendricks slid and the Pelicans could add some depth behind the oft-injured Williamson? Absolutely.

15. Atlanta Hawks: Dereck Lively II, C, Duke

In a draft with very few first-round centers, Lively gives the Hawks another frontcourt presence. The Hawks need another rim protector.

16. Utah Jazz: Nick Smith Jr., PG/SG, Arkansas

A projected top-10 pick early in the season, injuries derailed Smith Jr. a bit. Keep an eye on the former top recruit coming out of high school in 2022.

17. Los Angeles Lakers: Jordan Hawkins, SG, UConn

The Lakers lived in the paint and need to stretch the floor more. Hawkins was one of the elite three-point shooters in the country last season.

18. Miami Heat: Cason Wallace, PG/SG, Kentucky

Kyle Lowry is near the end of a great run, and Wallace is one of the best on-the-ball backcourt defenders in the draft.

19. Golden State Warriors: Jett Howard, SG/SF, Michigan

Versatile enough to play multiple positions and can space the floor? A perfect fit for the Warriors, who steal Juwan Howard’s son with this pick.

20. Houston Rockets: Brice Sensabaugh, SF/PF, Ohio State

His rise this season was a bit of a surprise, especially his ability to shoot from outside. If Sensabaugh can continue improving his defense, the Rockets get a sleeper.

21. Brooklyn Nets: Keyonte George, SG, Baylor

George has worked out well for several lottery teams but is also a slide candidate. He had some inconsistencies as a freshman, and needs to improve his decision-making.

22. Brooklyn Nets: Jaime Jaquez Jr., SF, UCLA

One of the few upperclassman with top-20 talent, the Nets can grab Jaquez with back-to-back picks. He’s a high-IQ wing who understands how to impact winning.

23. Portland Trail Blazers: James Nnaji, C, Spain

A mobile big with untapped talent? If Portland packages Jusuf Nurkic, Nnaji could be pushed into the starting lineup and go from project to prospect.

24. Sacramento Kings: Kris Murray, PF, Iowa

The best way to keep impressive rookie Keegan Murray happy about staying in Sacramento long-term? Draft his twin.

25. Memphis Grizzlies: Brandin Podziemski, SG, Santa Clara

What the Grizzlies really need is a great veteran player in that locker room, but with Ja Morant facing a suspension, young backcourt help doesn’t hurt.

26. Indiana Pacers: Leonard Miller, SF/PF, G League Ignite

Miller is the poster boy for a big-swing project that could be the steal of the draft. He has a 7-2 wingspan, but needs time to develop.

27. Charlotte Hornets: Dariq Whitehead, SG/SF, Duke

Foot surgery messed with his freshman season, but Whitehead was a top-five recruit coming out of high school.

28. Utah Jazz: Rayan Rupert, SG/SF, New Zealand

A great defensive player, Rupert needs some serious work on his offensive game, but will have time to develop in Utah.

29. Indiana Pacers: Olivier-Maxence Prosper, PF, Marquette

Prosper had a great combine workout and moved himself into the first round. The Pacers continue adding talent and depth.

30. Los Angeles Clippers: Ben Sheppard, SG/SF, Belmont

Another combine standout who displayed first-round talent, Sheppard could even jump into the low 20s on draft night.

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