To me, this exercise is basically a formality at this point. We know with the seventh pick in the 2018 NBA draft the Chicago Bulls will select Villanova forward Mikal Bridges. He’s an old (as far as draft prospects are concerned) player with a championship pedigree from a blue-chip program. When asked by reporters what kind of player the Bulls were trying to draft, John Paxson basically gave a scouting report on Bridges.
But let’s ignore the writing on the wall as a great thing about the completion of the draft lottery is the new batch of mock drafts that pop up the next day. None of these mocks have the Bulls picking Bridges, but I’m hell-bent convinced that he will be a Bull by the end of June.
(for the record, these opening paragraphs are laced with facetiousness)
The first mock draft I looked at yielded some good news....
Bamba, at worst, projects as a menace on the defensive end of the court -- where his 7-9 wingspan should allow him to alter shots at an elite level and rebound well. But he’s not just a defensive player. There’s also potential on the offensive end -- even if it’s a work in progress, at the moment. So this 7-foot forward who averaged 12.9 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.7 blocks in 30.2 minutes per game at Texas absolutely has a chance to develop into an All-Star in the frontcourt. The only concern I’ve heard is that he’s such a bright young man with so many interests that some wonder if he actually wants to live in the gym, which is a prerequisite to NBA stardom. But his positives seem to outweigh any negatives, real or otherwise. So even if Bamba doesn’t go this high, he won’t go much lower.
The Bulls would bank on Bamba developing into a game changer on the defensive end of the floor with passable offensive skills that would feature a reliable 3-point shot. His skillset would be a solid complement to the more defensively challenged Lauri Markkanen for the Bulls hypothetical frontcourt of the future.
Our guy Ricky O’Donnell also had the Bulls snagging Bamba at No. 7 in his most recent mock draft for SB Nation.
Bamba enters the NBA with a 7’9 wingspan, which will be the longest in the league from the moment he’s drafted. He’s a potentially elite defensive talent, changing the trajectory of any shot in the paint with his sheer length. He was already a great shot blocker in his one year at Texas, finishing No. 5 in the country in block rate. His offensive game is raw right now, but he should be a quality lob target and he’s starting to develop a face-up jumper.
The third mock draft I looked at yielded even better news:
Porter’s health situation remains a bit cloudy, but his range will remain in the mid-to-late lottery provided his medicals check out passably. His ability to score the ball could be a long-term boost for Chicago, who successfully got more out of Kris Dunn at the point this season and have a greater need to fill on the wing. Much will hang on how Porter’s camp handles the predraft process, and it’s still not clear where he stands after missing almost the entire season following back surgery. Missouri may have rushed him back. Teams will have to take that into account, but Porter is the best long-term prospect on the board here based on talent.
For good reason, many Bulls fans are treating Porter Jr. as their 2018 Messiah. The 6-foot-10-inch forward was a prolific scorer from all three levels in high school and was second on ESPN’s top 100 recruits in 2017 as a result (behind Marvin Bagley Jr.). Where he ends up falling in the draft ultimately comes down to how his medicals check out.
Sam Smith Bulls.com
Smith is very old school and kind of thinks outside of the box for a lot of things, so I was interested which direction he would take his mock draft.
There will be a lot of sentiment to take a chance on Porter if he falls. But if he falls to seven, there probably will be concerns why so many teams let him pass. It will make it a brutally tough decision for the Bulls. Do you take a big risk on a high ceiling/possible bust with your high lottery pick? And hopefully last one this high. After all, being in the top 10 means getting a star. But there likely aren’t many stars in this draft. The Bulls greatest position needs—and after 27 wins you don’t necessarily look for need—are small forward and center. And Porter sure looks amazing, 6-10 and a great shooter, and in an NBA era where you want size for those switching defenses. Carter has been likened to a skilled big man like Al Horford. Not dominating, but smart, fundamentally sound and an ideal small center for this NBA era.
If it wasn’t clear in the quoted paragraph, Smith has the Bulls taking Wendell Carter Jr. He’s another higher floor, lower ceiling-type prospect but at least he’s only 19 years old.
The trio must have collaborated with Sam Smith, and forgot to include him in the byline.
Strong and physical, Carter has advanced post moves for a freshman. He also seeks out and plays through contact – an encouraging sign as he’ll be battling NBA bodies. Carter’s inside presence is a nice complement to Lauri Markkanen’s outside game.
And some more of the same....
There’s a compelling argument for Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr. here, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he’s the pick. However, Carter fills a future position of need in the frontcourt next to Lauri Markkanen.
The 6-10 center is a high-IQ prospect who has potential as an offensive playmaker and floor spacer. Defensively, he projects to be a drop back big who can handle rotations around the rim where his instincts can shine.
ESPN (Draft Express) also has the Bulls taking Carter.