Chicago Bulls Pre-Draft Analysis
While Coby White fills more of a positional need, the Bulls should not pass on DeAndre Hunter or Jarrett Culver if they’re available.
The NBA draft is a week and a half away, so it’s about time to take an in-depth look at some players that may be available for the Bulls to select with their seventh pick. While a lot of Bulls fans are upset they landed at number seven after having the fourth best odds for the number one pick, this is a very deep draft that features many formidable players that can bolster their current NBA roster. Outside of the top three prospects, there isn’t much separation between the remaining prospects. The general consensus is that Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, and R.J. Barrett are set in stone at one through three, but after that is much more uncertainty. Below is a list of players that may be available at seventh overall.
Coby White: This seems like the most popular choice among draft experts. Not only will White likely be the best player available when the Bulls are on the clock, but he also fills a glaring need for the Bulls at point guard. White is a very quick and athletic lead guard who can initiate the break and score out in transition with ease. He has great size for a point guard at 6’ 5,” but needs to put on a little bit of muscle to prepare for the physicality of the NBA. He was more of a score-first guard at North Carolina, as he attempted the second most field goals on the team and only averaged four assists per game (sports-reference.com). Also, he was recruited out of high school as more of a combo guard than a point guard. This leaves him with only one year of experience as a true point guard. Due to these facts, there is some concern with White’s ability to run the point and lead a halfcourt offense in the NBA. This is especially true due to the fact North Carolina tries to get out in transition as much as possible, leaving little opportunities for White to showcase this ability. Having said this, there is zero concern for White’s ability to score at a high level from beyond the arc and at the rim. White can get to the rim at will and not only shoot off the catch but also shoot off the dribble at an effective percentage, which is a crucial skill to possess for an NBA point guard. He could be a dominant player to utilize off the pick-and-roll with the athleticism and ball-handling skills he possesses. While I do not believe he is the best player on this list, he would be a very formidable draft pick for the Bulls given their team needs and his dynamic scoring ability.
Jarrett Culver: Although Culver is unlikely to be available at number seven, there is a lot of ambiguity among draft experts after the third pick, so he’s worth taking a look at. Culver is drawing a lot of comparisons to former Bull Jimmy Butler because of his elite defensive capabilities and effective midrange offensive game. In addition, Culver has adequate enough handles to get by defenders off the dribble and overpower smaller defenders in the post with his strength, eerily similar to Butler. The one hesitancy in drafting Culver is that he is inherently similar to current Bulls Zach Lavine and Otto Porter. Drafting Culver may lead to a logjam at the wing position, while still ignoring the need at point guard. However, the Bulls are not in win now mode and are still at the point of their rebuild where they should draft the best player available. Culver has the size, athleticism, and skill set to potentially be an All-Star in the future if he can develop a consistent three-point shot, as he only shot 30.4% from three this past season (sports-reference.com). It’s rare to see the length and athleticism Culver possesses coupled with his explosive first step. It’s easy to see why some experts view him as having the second or third highest ceiling in the draft. Although his three-point shooting is a concern, I think the Bulls should take Culver over Coby White, if he is still available.
DeAndre Hunter: Hunter is probably the most NBA-ready player in the draft outside of Zion Williamson. While a lot of draft experts think Hunter is a ‘safe’ pick with a very high floor and moderate ceiling, I happen to believe he has a very high ceiling. In college, he proved that he has the ability to score at all three levels of the floor. Combine that with his exceptional perimeter defense, and I see a lot of Kawhi Leonard in him. While I am by no means saying he will blossom to that level of stardom, there are virtually no holes in his game that lead me to believe he cannot be a future NBA all-star. He doesn’t have the quickness that Culver possesses, but he’s the most efficient player in the draft outside of Zion. Hunter shot 52% from the field and 43.8% from three last season, which are outstanding numbers for a player of his 6’ 7” 225-pound build and 7-foot wingspan (sports-reference.com). In addition, Hunter possesses the versatility that is so highly valued in today’s NBA. He can guard almost any position on the floor and can switch pick-and-rolls with ease. While his playmaking ability is somewhat in question, which is why he is considered to have a lower ceiling than other wings in this draft, I don’t see any way that Hunter ends up a bust. At the very least, Hunter will be a highly effective ‘Three and D’ wing in the NBA. While he is unlikely to be available at seven, the Bulls would be making a massive mistake to pass on Hunter if he is. I would even consider taking Hunter with the third pick ahead of RJ Barrett.
Cam Reddish: Reddish is a player that, barring a big surprise, will likely be available when the Bulls pick. He started the year as a consensus top-five selection but struggled mightily with his offensive efficiency at Duke. He shot 35.6% from the field and 33.3% from three-point range last season (sports-reference.com). Reddish is a prime example of NBA general managers placing blind value on players that possess ‘potential’ strictly due to their athletic build, perceived talent, and measurables. Yes, Reddish is a 6’8” wing with a highly coveted standing reach and wingspan, while also possessing arguably the most fluid stroke out of any prospect in the draft during shootarounds. However, he proved absolutely nothing at the collegiate level to warrant a top ten pick. Placing more value on how he looked during the NBA combine and shootarounds over 36 games at Duke makes no logical sense. He is a shooting guard that struggled to shoot and was extremely passive on the floor all of last season. On top of that, there is high concern about his lack of motor and work ethic, which are major red flags. It is entirely possible that playing under Zion and Barrett’s shadow at Duke contributed to his lack of productivity, but the Bulls using their seventh pick on Reddish would be a massive risk.
Darius Garland: Similar to Cam Reddish, Garland is more of a home run type of pick with high upside and high bust potential. While Reddish’s red flags are due to lack of productivity, Garland’s is mainly due to simply not having enough game tape on him. Garland had meniscus surgery on his left knee in late November, robbing him of most of last season. In the five games played at Vanderbilt, he lit up the stat sheet, shooting 53.7% from the floor and 47.8% from three. Although it’s a small sample size against below average competition, it’s hard to ignore the prolific shooting ability that he displayed. The general consensus is that Garland possesses the ability to be a lead guard and floor general in the NBA, but had a very questionable assist to turnover ratio in college at 0.87 (sports-reference.com). This could be solely due to small sample size, but also could be indicative of lacking the necessary skill set to be a Point Guard in the NBA. Although Garland had much better shooting numbers in college than Coby White, I see no reason why the Bulls should draft Garland over him, as they both fill the same positional need and White is much less risky. Garland may have a higher upside, but there’s too great of uncertainty in his game.
If available, I believe the Bulls should pick Deandre Hunter and Jarrett Culver, in that order. Yes, the Bulls have a positional need at point guard, but both of these wings possess all-star level potential, which I do not see in any of the other prospects. Because most other draft experts agree with that assertion, I would be surprised if either of them were available at seven. This makes Coby White a very good plan B, as he should be a solid point guard in the league. I’d be alright with picking Darius Garland if the previous three mentioned are already off the board, but that is unlikely to happen. Most experts have Garland rated higher than White, which surprises me. Lastly, I think drafting Reddish would be a big mistake. With how deep this draft is, if Reddish is the only player on this list that is available at seven, the Bulls should trade down.
Featured Photos: AP