By Chris Pennant (@kwandarykitten)
The Chicago Bulls had no luck in the NBA’s draft lottery once again, as they ended up with the seventh pick in the 2019 NBA Draft despite entering the proceedings with a 12.5-percent odds at the top spot.
Choosing first will be the New Orleans Pelicans, who finished with the seventh-worst record this past season. The Memphis Grizzlies, New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers rounded out the top four at the lottery reveal, which took place at Chicago’s Hilton Hotel on Michigan Avenue.
Not far from the action, Bulls fans at Public House in River North eagerly awaited a chance at Williamson but ended up crestfallen at the results.
“I grew up a Catholic. I thought there was a road to Zion,” said CJ Androwich of Oak Park. “There is no God, evidently.”
Androwich’s sardonic response was echoed by other Bulls fans.
“It is heartbreaking. This is all we’ve looked forward to for months and months, and for it to end that fast, with the No. 7 pick, again?” said Patrick Latz, a Chicago-area Bulls fan. “It’s just brutal.”
After years of watching teams sell out their season to improve their draft position, the NBA instituted a change this season, giving the three worst teams the same chance (14 percent) at the No. 1 pick and improving the odds for all teams up to the 14th-worst record.
The Bulls weren’t the only tanking team who lost out in the new lottery system. The Cleveland Cavaliers and Phoenix Suns, who finished with the second- and third-worst records in the league, ended up fifth and sixth, respectively.
Evan, a Knicks fan sharing the table with Pat, was upset about the Knicks missing the top spot, but was already looking ahead.
“[Duke guard] RJ Barrett would be a great pick,” he said. “Let’s see who we can get in free agency. Hopefully, we can get a guy like Durant or Kawhi or Kyrie.”
At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Lakers slipped into the top four despite winning over 30 games last season. The Grizzlies are likely to select Murray State guard Ja Morant with the second pick, with the Lakers choosing between Barrett, Cam Reddish or possibly Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter.
Even while they commiserated about their lost chance, Bulls fans seemed excited about the prospect of Zion teaming up with Anthony Davis in New Orleans. Bulls fan J-Mill believes they’ll break through the playoff barrier if they make the right choices.
“I think that’s going to be a SEXY team,” he said. “All they need is a three-and-D guy, like a Trevor Ariza, and they’re gonna be perfect. They’ll be a top-four seed in the West, no doubt, if AD stays.”
The Pelicans’ 33-49 record last year is the best of any lottery winner since the 1993 Orlando Magic, who landed the first overall pick after finishing 41-41 the previous season.
Now, the speculation shifts to what the Bulls should do with the seventh pick. Should they stand pat or try to make a trade? While some are resigned to picking up a less-heralded rookie, such as North Carolina’s Coby White, Androwich was adamant in going another direction.
“I would trade the s**t out of the pick for Lonzo Ball,” he said. “He’s the perfect player to get introduced to [the Bulls’] system.”
Chris Pennant covers the Chicago Bulls and basketball in general for WARR