“In The Scope With Joshua M. Hicks” is a weekly column from the lead columnist of WARR
It was around this time last year that the Chicago Bulls decided to hit the rebuild button by buying out Chicago-native Dwyane Wade, releasing Rajon Rondo and trading away potential franchise guard Jimmy Butler and the 16th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft (Justin Patton) for the 7th overall pick (Lauri Markkanen), Kris Dunn and two-time slam dunk champion Zach LaVine.
Then Chicago took advantage near the trade deadline by receiving the 22nd pick of this year’s draft from New Orleans for Nikola Mirotic, and now with an already young core continuing to be established, the Bulls added two more draft prospects in the 2018 draft to aid this talented young group, bringing needed depth that fulfilled the areas that the Bulls needed assistance in.
Duke big man Wendell Carter Jr. (No. 7 overall) and Boise State wingman Chandler Hutchinson (No. 22 overall) are both coming to play at the Madhouse on Madison this season after being selected in the 2018 draft and Executive Vice-President of Basketball Operations John Paxson expressed strong pleasure and support for both picks and what they can bring to the table for the franchise.
“….We walk away feeling really good about the two players we drafted and the direction we are heading, two positions of need and two players we feel fit us and hopefully help us grow, hopefully quickly,” Paxson told NBA reporter Sam Smith.
“And though we are going to be patient, maybe more quickly than some of the teams in the past have in rebuilding situations.”
Ideally, I would’ve liked to see Mikal Bridges in a Bulls uniform paired with Mo Bamba if the Bulls could have made such moves. However, the Bulls did a good job picking the best talent that was available to fill their needs, and the Bulls future just got brighter. There is an amazing amount of upside between the two draft picks.
Carter Jr. was one of the safest picks in the draft. With the priority of drafting a big man complimentary to Markkanen’s style, Carter Jr. brings a rugged, tough and skilled arsenal to the Bulls frontcourt. Many critics compare him to an Al Horford or Elton Brand type of player, someone who has a strong lost post presence, can step out and shoot from the perimeter and be a strong defensive presence with the ability to be an aggressive rebounder as well.
The 6’10 Duke standout also has experience, averaging 14 points and 9 rebounds on 56 percent shooting and 41 percent shooting from three as the man in the middle alongside an aggressive scoring forward in Marvin Bagley, who was selected No. 2 overall to the Sacramento Kings. This shows that he is capable of playing alongside a scoring stretch-power forward in Markkanen, a rising player in the league with consistent 20-point 10-rebound double-double potential. Carter will be a huge asset to Dunn/LaVine in the pick and roll game and a good backup for Robin Lopez.
Boise State’s Hutchinson may not be your Michael Porter Jr. or Mikal Bridges from a talent perspective, but he is a versatile wing player with height, something the Bulls have been lacking in their backcourt. At 6’7, he brings defensive length and depth next to the defensive leader in Dunn and 6’5 LaVine.
Offensively, Hutchinson is a Wilson Chandler type of player, a versatile two-way athlete with the ability to score and create his own shot. Hutchinson has the potential to be a key all-around player for the Bulls after averaging 20 points a game on 47% shooting with 7 rebounds a game last season. An average three-point shooter, only shooting 35% overall, Hutchinson converted on 72% from the free throw line. The potential for improvement is there, especially with time under Fred Hoiberg’s up-and-down, fast-paced offense.
Joshua M. Hicks is a Chicago-based sports writer and broadcaster, follow him on Twitter @jhicks042; Follow We Are Regal Radio on Twitter @regalradio1 and on Facebook under We Are Regal Radio