By Joshua M Hicks (@jhicks042)
The Chicago Bulls have a recent history of being on the short end of the stick with the NBA Draft and this year is going to be no different.
Picking seventh in the upcoming draft for the third straight year (second straight year via the draft lottery process) and with limited options for a franchise-changing talent, the Bulls have two options: draft the best player available (whether it’s a point guard or not) or trade the pick to potentially fill their void at point guard or get the best player available.
There is considerable talent that will most likely be available come draft night, if they choose to keep the pick. Starting off with potential players that can fit their need at point guard, North Carolina’s Coby White is a good candidate, his Kyrie Irving/Jamal Murray skillset can be the ideal future for this young rebuild with the right coaching staff to help him develop. White has the ability to create his own shot and score at will. When he puts his mind to it, he can be a good on-ball defender as well. He is most dangerous in transition, where he utilizes his quickness and speed to score, which can be a nightmare for opponents’ transition defense.
Vanderbilt’s Darius Garland is another option for the Bulls at point guard. He has a skillset comparable to Jeff Teague and Damian Lillard: a player who can shoot the three, is great in pick-and-roll and has good court vision to distribute the ball. However, he only played five games last season thanks to a torn meniscus in his knee.
Duke’s Cameron Reddish is a silent draft pick that could possibly make some noise for the Bulls — a 6’9 forward with the ability to shoot and has a great on-ball defensive presence, similar to Joe Johnson or Paul George. Reddish, however, needs to focus on consistency, which was difficult for him to do when he went from being the top guy to a third option on a stacked team, like Duke was with Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett.
Jarrett Culver or DeAndre Hunter might be a valuable option at no. 7 if they are still available on draft night. Both have the ability to score and demand a defensive presence with their length on the perimeter. Hunter has proven more consistent, especially in big moments like he had during the NCAA tournament this past season, but Culver has tremendous upside if put into the right situation.
If the Bulls do not feel anyone is worthy of drafting at number 7, they could trade up for a higher draft pick or even make a trade to fill their void at point guard. 670 The Score’s Cody Westerlund reported that Vice President of Basketball Operations John Paxson is considering trading their pick for a veteran player.
It seems that idea has already been put into motion: a May 13 report in the Chicago Sun-Times stated that if the Bulls fall in the 3-6 range, they would inquire about Los Angeles Lakers’ point guard Lonzo Ball. But an idea that Bulls should really consider is acquiring Memphis point guard Mike Conley.
Conley is a durable veteran that can effectively run an offense while showing a nice defensive presence. Last year, the Grizzly vet averaged 21 points and six assists per game while shooting 45 percent from the field, 36% from the three and 85% from the free throw line, he also tallied almost two steals a game and has played over 60 games nine out of his 12 seasons in the league. Conley would be a good fit with a rising Zach LaVine and Otto Porter in Jim Boylen’s system while ramping up the rebuild process.
Trading for Conley also allows Memphis to acquire Murray State’s Ja Morant with the second pick and pair him with second-year man Jaren Jackson, creating a dynamic duo that can potentially make some noise and carry this team long-term.
The Bulls have a lot of questions to answer come draft night, and with this rebuild possibly (and for Bulls fans, hopefully) being the last chance for the GarPax-era to work, they need to capitalize quickly this offseason.
The 2019 NBA Draft takes place June 20 on ESPN.
Joshua M. Hicks is a Senior Writer for WARR Media