The 2021 NBA Draft is three days away, and the Chicago Bulls are going to have to make do with only the 38th overall pick. The Bulls have needs at essentially every position, so they can certainly take a best-available approach. Whether you want to call that fortunate or unfortunate, it is the reality the Bulls face. As such, we have compiled five potential guard options and five potential forward options for Chicago. Still, the Bulls need help off the bench at center, and there are some solid options that could be available at pick 38. Let’s break them down.
Option One: Day’Ron Sharpe, UNC, Freshman
Measurements: HT: 6’11”, WT: 259 , WING: 7’0″
Key Stats: 9.5 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 1.4 APG, 50.5% Free Throw
Day’Ron Sharpe was looked at as a potential first-round pick when he left high school for UNC as a five-star recruit. Still, in an uncertain class of centers, he might find himself as a late first-rounder. As of now, however, multiple mock drafts have him in the second round.
Sharpe is a beast on the boards. He had the best offensive-rebounding percentage in the country and his motor is seemingly always running when trying to get rebounds. That level of drive for getting boards would be a welcome sight on the Bulls, and Sharpe would be an ideal big man to stake out around the paint as the Bulls shooters get their shots up from the perimeter. He also has the potential to be a solid rim protector off the bench. He tied for the UNC team lead with 26 blocks in just 19.2 minutes per game.
Sharpe shot 51.9% from the field but it almost exclusively came from shots around the basket. At UNC, Sharpe took two shots from three, missing both. He also looked pretty bad shooting from the midrange. Now, his trainer, Don MacLean, says Sharpe’s shooting has improved as he trains before the draft, but there is a difference between taking and making open shots during training and shooting well in an actual game. Sharpe only made 50.5% of his free-throw attempts in college, so teams will likely remain a little skeptical even if they see improved shooting in drills. Also, Sharpe’s defense away from the rim is suspect as of right now. Sharpe’s perimeter defense is similar to mine in NBA 2K–not very good and defenders can pretty much blow by him with ease. Of course, dropping 20 pounds or so may help with this, but, again, that is unproven right now.
Option Two: Sandro Mamukelashvili, Seton Hall, Senior
Measurements: HT: 6’10, WT: 240, WING: 7’1.25″
Key Stats: 17.5 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 3.2 APG, 33.6% 3-point
I’m a big Mamukelashvili fan, even if pick 38 is a little high for him. For a Bulls team trying to win in the next few years, a high-floor guy who is a great passer and solid shooter could be a very beneficial pick for them.
As mentioned above, Mamukelashvili is a great passer with an awesome feel for playmaking. He was very good at Seton Hall in the pick-and-roll, and he often served as the ball handler in those situations. A pick-and-roll with Mamukelashvili and Nikola Vucevic would be a lot of fun to watch and pretty tough to guard. He also has the potential to be a high-impact shooter as a big. He shot 43.4% from three as a junior, and his form looks pretty good, especially for his long wingspan.
The biggest hangup for Mamukelashvili is his defensive impact. He simply is coming in as a liability on the defensive end, which could be problematic for a Bulls team that needs defensive bigs. While Mamukelashvili surprised with a 36.5″ vertical at the NBA Combine, he is not really a rim protector. He averaged 0.6 BPG as a senior and 0.7 BPG for his career. Mamukelashvili will not be a good defender on the perimeter, either, and NBA teams will try to get their guards and wings switched onto him often. He will need to rely on help defense often, and the Bulls don’t currently do a good job with that.
Option Three: Jericho Sims, Texas, Senior
Measurements: HT: 6’10, WT: 250, WING: 7’3.25″
Key Stats: 9.2 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 1.1 BPG, 69.6% Shooting
Sims is an incredible athlete at the 5, and that athleticism combined with Sims’s length has to be enticing for NBA teams. He has a little bit of Daniel Gafford to his game (we all miss you, Gafford) and could come in and make an impact on the defensive side of things right away.
Sims posted a 44.5″ vertical at the combine – second among all participants behind only Keon Johnson’s 48″ leap. At 6’10” with a 7’3.25″ wingspan, jumping nearly 45 inches in the air is, to put it scientifically, bonkers. This, obviously, impacts Sims’s game on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Focusing on the defensive end of things, Sims is a talented shot blocker, especially coming in as a help defender. He takes pride in his defensive effort and stays vertical well when challenging shots. Sims is also a dynamic finisher around the rim. He explodes off the floor quickly to rise up for dunks and uses his athleticism to finish over or through defenders.
The biggest area of growth for Sims is his offensive arsenal. Essentially, Sims’s offensive impact drops off dramatically the farther he is from the rim. Throughout his career, Sims attempted one three, and that was during his freshman season. He was only a 52% free throw shooter as a senior, which indicates roughly no growth over the course of his four years at Texas. With extremely limited range and a limited arsenal as a post-up player, Sims will need others to create for him on the offensive-end of things.
Option Four: Charles Bassey, Western Kentucky, Junior
Measurements: HT: 6’10.25″, WT: 230, WING: 7’3″
Key Stats: 17.6 PPG, 11.6 RPG, 3.1 BPG, 30.5% 3-point
Bassey is a big man that has been linked to the Bulls often leading up to the draft. Given that Conference USA is a weaker NCAA conference, Bassey’s dominance does come with a bit of a grain of salt, but that stat line is still impressive.
The first thing that jumps out is Bassey’s rim protection. 3.1 blocks per game had Bassey ranked fourth in the entire NCAA. Due to his wingspan, 36″ max vertical, and awareness on the weak side, Bassey can come in right away and be an upside rim protector in the NBA. Furthermore, if Bassey’s shot continues to develop, he flashes the opportunity to be a big center with range out to the three-point line. Shooting 76.8% from the free-throw line for his career is a good sign for Bassey’s future jumper in the NBA. If Bassey can develop a shot to go with his excellent offensive rebounding and production in the paint, he would be a steal at pick 38.
Mentioning Bassey’s shooting potential as a strength means we also need to acknowledge that it is not where it needs to be yet. When Bassey missed, he often missed bad. I’m talking air-balling threes and bricking wide-open shots. The inconsistency is worrisome for his future NBA production. Bassey will also need to get bigger and stronger to be more successful in the NBA. At 230 pounds, Bassey is still going to need to add to his frame. Right now, he struggles to play through contact and bigger centers will be able to have their way with him too often when posting him up or meeting him in the paint.
Option Five: Luka Garza, Iowa, Senior
Measurements: HT: 6’11.25″, WT: 243, WING: 7’1.5″
Key Stats: 24.1 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 1.6 BPG, 44% 3-point
Luka Garza is a fringe-NBA Draft prospect. He could very well go in the second round, but he could also find himself undrafted despite the incredible stats and winning the Big Ten Player of the Year award.
Garza is a proficient scorer at every level. He averaged 10.3 PPG on post-ups and shot 55.3% from the field and 44% from deep despite a 32.5 usage percentage and opposing teams knowing that he was going to be taking a ton of shots. Of course, the 44% from three stands out for a center. He shot an even better 50% on catch-and-shoot opportunities. If he is drafted, Garza will come into the NBA as an elite shooter for a big. In fact, Garza has one of the highest offensive floors in the draft.
With numbers like the ones Garza posted as a junior and senior at Iowa, being projected as a second-round pick or an undrafted free agent might seem puzzling. Garza’s downfall stems from his very limited athleticism and poor defensive ability. Garza had the worst vertical leap at the NBA Draft Combine. He leaped 24″ for his standing vertical and 29.5″ for his max vertical. Garza also had the worst three quarter sprint (3.51 seconds) at the combine. Simply put, quicker players will have an absolute field day when Garza is switched onto them. He can be attacked effectively on pick-and-pop and pick-and-roll opportunities. The question becomes: does Garza’s offensive impact outweigh his liability on the defensive end? The Bulls might not want to risk that with their current crop of bigs.
Center is a position of need for Chicago, and many mock drafts have center as the direction in which the Bulls go come July 29. Due to the lack of strong centers in this draft class, it is possible that a few of these guys are off the board in the first round. Still, there is a good chance many of these centers are available at 38. Stick with us at On Tap Sports Net for all your Bulls draft coverage and analysis.