With the NBA draft later this month, the Chicago Bulls have a big choice to make with the 16th pick. Chicago sits in that odd middle draft position which is just outside of the lottery but not near the end of the first round.
It’s hard to project ceilings for draftees, especially when they are drafted in that 16-20 range. The eye-test and traditional scouting has great value, but teams like the Bulls must consider analytical models when it comes to drafting. Especially when the analytics movement is becoming more and more important to basketball each passing day.
Over at the Athletic, Stephen Noh (a great friend of Blog A Bull) did an amazing interview with Andrew Johnson of Nylon Calclus which you can read here. If you aren’t reading either of those sites, I suggest you start doing so now.
Johnson is known for his regular season and draft projections, and in the interview he gave some interesting quotes when it came to the Bulls. He revealed that according to his model there were some good big men prospects available at that slot, saying:
My model is pretty high on T.J. Leaf, who should be available. Zach Collins and Thomas Bryant also look pretty good and should around. This draft is heavy on big men, so there’s a bit of a surplus there.
Selecting a big man would be a surprising choice for Chicago but also one that makes sense. The Bulls have a lot of needs, and although a guard (and someone who can play alongside Jimmy Butler) would be ideal, a young big man to develop could be useful to them as well. With Taj Gibson now gone, Joffrey Lauvergne likely also gone in free agency and the future of Nikola Mirotic up in the air (for now), Bobby Portis is the only power forward on the Bulls roster right now. Even if Mirotic is back, the Bulls still need depth at the 4 spot and a guy like Leaf could be a fit.
Along with his projection on this years draft, Johnson also reflected on the Bulls past draft picks as well, including the famed Doug McDermott trade.
The draft is only a couple of weeks away and with the Bulls working out a lot of players, there are a plethora of options to choose from. In the past couple of years, the Bulls have taken guys who have been in college for a while and are from major programs. Maybe this could be the year they take a chance on a younger player with a higher upside.