After sleeping on it, the way Wednesday night played out could possibly reflect some of the best drafting we have ever seen the Bulls execute.
In 1984, Michael Jordan fell to the Bulls. In 2008, the team won the lottery and had a 50-50 shot at getting the right guy (Derrick Rose) who just happened to be from Chicago. None of this was strategic. Even when there was an apparent strategy in place in recent years, there was mixed messaging from GarPax. The previous regime would tout goals such as making the roster “younger and more athletic” -- only to acquire Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo in free agency.
However, what we saw and heard last night was strategic and deliberate.
When Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley (AKME) were brought in, Bulls fans were all on board because both of them thought “outside of the box”. So now that their picks are actually what we signed up for — “outside of the box” thinking — why are we losing our minds? We need to give the new brass time to let their visions mature.
As Bulls fans, however, we need to be patient. We can’t be like “that” dumb, average-looking guy who landed the hot girl and then doesn’t let her go out or looks through her phone to make sure she isn’t talking to other guys. If we truly trust AK, we need to look at his track record and realize that his gambles have proven to be right, even if it took some time for the results to come to fruition.
Keeping that in mind, let's run through everything we learned last night.
The Patrick Williams Plan
After selecting Patrick Williams at No. 4 -- a decision that aggravated a large portion of the fan base -- AK’s post-draft evaluation followed suit with everything you would want to hear about a fourth overall pick. Below are just a few snippets from his press conference last night.
- “I didn’t agree with the perception people had of him”
- “He can guard 1-5”
- ”He can play 3 positions on offense”
- “He played PG in high school and can bring the ball up the court”
- ”We will let him decide his position”
While I personally don't believe Patrick Williams was the right value for the No. 4 spot, I can’t deny that the qualities conveyed during the post-draft presser exemplify what needs to be characteristic of someone drafted fourth overall. While words and how he ultimately performs in an NBA game are two different things, these statements from the top executive should at least ease the minds of Bulls fans. If these statements hit, which AK has proven in his previous endeavors, this pick is a slam dunk.
It has been rumored that new head coach Billy Donovan was high on Williams too. This would demonstrate that the chain of command is in sync, which is very atypical of a Reinsdorf-run organization.
Back to the player up for discussion. Given the shortened offseason, it's imperative that the selected player can improve his game quickly. AK mentioned that Patrick Williams was doing just that right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
After the draft, we learned that Coby White and Patrick Williams are really good friends, and it's not just from being in the Atlantic Coast Conference together.
“Coby White is actually from North Carolina, so just growing up, all in high school playing against him or with him in some camps,’’ Williams said. “We played each other often, pretty much every summer. And coming into this pre-draft, I was already close with him, so I kind of leaned on him for questions or advice or anything I needed. It’s kind of crazy that I get drafted to the Bulls.’’
Coby White appears to be just as excited.
While the learning curve may be steep with this unique offseason, the Coby/Patrick relationship may help shrink it a little bit.
Nonverbally, AK told us that Patrick Williams was probably his first choice all along. The Bulls didn’t schedule workouts with the picks 1-3 and only entertained an interview with LaMelo Ball.
Shrewd Second-Round Selection
With the 44th overall pick, the Bulls selected Marko Simonovic. Again, he was not on most experts' radars at that spot, but he possesses the qualities needed for that pick placement. When discussing Simonovic, AK began by listing off every skill you could think of.
In the Adriatic League, Simonovic averaged 50% from the floor and 41% from three-point range in addition to 16 points and ten rebounds. While the Bulls could have gone with a prospect whom they had very little film on due to the pandemic causing cancelations, they were able to watch Simonovic’s overseas games remotely during the shutdowns in the U.S.
Given all the international scouting backgrounds that AK has on staff, I am again confident this pick was quite deliberate and likely very thoroughly researched. While it was somewhat surprising to see the new regime go with a draft-and-stash pick like this, there's another way to look at it. Simonivic remaining overseas will enable more playing time for the current players on the roster, allowing them to “audition” for roles under the new regime.
The Finishing Touch
Furthermore, the Bulls weren't done after their picks went up on the board last night. As the draft drew to a conclusion, reports surfaced that the Bulls will be signing Kansas guard Devon Dotson, who is a Chicago native.
This is the move most Bulls fans are raving about. Bringing in a Chicago guy whom most pundits thought would be drafted is a no-risk scenario. The lightning-quick Dotson is fresh off being a team leader of the University of Kansas Jayhawks, a pre-COVID favorite to win the NCAA Tournament.
To The Hot Stove and Beyond
At AK’s post-draft presser, we learned a few more things. First, he said there was no intention to move up in the draft. It shows that the front office has sealed lips and the rumors we heard -- and will hear in the future -- are most likely smokescreens.
Additionally, the lack of trades means that the Bulls' current core of players could be together for at least a year, which could reveal how badly Jim Boylen stunted any of their growth. This is important because it’s hard to put together a trade evaluation when you don’t even know what your own assets are worth.
The last big takeaway from Bulls draft night came when AK addressed the team's decisions on qualifying offers and the upcoming free-agent period.
“We addressed that [extending qualifying offers] looking at free agency... The roster spots were limited and we will be very picky in FA."
When asked what will specifically be addressed in free agency, AK stated, “We need to add shooting,” and then stopped himself before listing off additional targeted areas.
After taking all of this into consideration, you can tell that Arturas Karnisovas is a man with a plan. Every move he made centered around the theme of versatility. Reading between the lines, he wasn’t trying to sell us on his picks. He also tried to say as little as possible detail-wise. Let's hope his plan produces the desired results.