Life in the NBA’s basement isn’t getting any better these days. The problem for the Bulls, though, is that it’s not getting any worse.
The Bulls’ losses have been piling up — five in a row at last glance — yet they still sit eighth in the battle for the worst record in the league. The Bulls simply can’t tank enough with only nine games left.
So where does that leave them in the draft if the lottery balls come up in the order of the standings? It leaves general manager Gar Forman needing to hit big on the most important draft of this rebuild.
Sure, it’s still months away. But it’s the perfect time for Draft Watch 1.0.
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1. Suns — Marvin Bagley III, PF, Duke: There have been several games this season in which the versatile Bagley hasn’t even looked like the best player on his team, but he has shown flashes of brilliance. He has a high motor and off-the-charts athleticism, and he’ll have All-Star potential once he fills out at the NBA level and understands defense. He would be the ideal player for coach Fred Hoiberg’s system, but the Bulls won’t even get a sniff at drafting him at No. 8.
2. Grizzlies — DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona: Considering his size and offensive talent, Ayton should be the consensus No. 1 pick. The problem is, his game gets a bit lethargic at times, which leads to questions about his character. Maybe he didn’t feel challenged at the college level, but he should have been more dominant on both ends of the floor.
3. Hawks — Luka Doncic, G/F, Real Madrid: Talk to some of the Bulls who have gone up against Doncic firsthand, and they rave about his versatility. Paul Zipser called him the European version of LeBron James from a passing standpoint.
4. Magic — Jaren Jackson Jr., F, Michigan State: Jackson can change the game defensively and can stretch out an opposing defense with his ability to shoot from three-point range. The tools are there for him to turn into an elite two-way player at the NBA level.
5. Mavericks — Mo Bamba, C, Texas: The Mavericks need immediate help in the frontcourt, so why wouldn’t they grab a potential game-changing defensive player in Bamba? There’s no question his offensive skills are raw and will need some serious development, but elite rim protectors don’t come around very often these days.
6. Cavaliers (via Nets) — Michael Porter Jr., F, Missouri: If his surgically repaired back checks out and he shines during the predraft process, Porter won’t make it out of the top three. If he is falling, however, is this a player Forman could gamble on by trading up? Time will tell.
7. Kings — Collin Sexton, G, Alabama: Sexton is more shooting guard than point guard and has a Russell Westbrook-like mentality when it comes to attacking the rim. He’s fearless on both ends and plays with an edge. With him alongside De’Aaron Fox, the Kings would be building a potentially dynamic backcourt.
8. BULLS — Wendell Carter Jr., F/C, Duke: Carter knows what it’s like playing second fiddle after spending this season in Bagley’s shadow. So playing next to Lauri Markkanen won’t be an adjustment. Carter is versatile in and out of the post, and his range is improving.
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