For most of us, the primary focus heading into the draft has been what the Bulls could do at #7. But at #22, with the first several picks in the draft likely to be dominated by five high-profile big men, the back of the first-round is filled with capable perimeter players. With many of these players being like-sized and having comparable skillsets, the Bulls will need a wide-spanning draft board to cover for a multitude of potential outcomes.
Who will be available for Chicago when it comes time to making their pick will ultimately be decided on those teams picking before them, but here are five prospects to get to know who could be available.
Chandler Hutchison, SF, Boise State
Any discussion about potential prospects for the No. 22 pick should really start with Chandler Hutchison. And if we’re to believe reports that the Bulls may be the team that have given Hutchison a guarantee, the conversation may end here.
Who knows if there is any credence to these pre-draft rumors, but what gives them credibility is the Bulls’ propensity to lean toward players who’ve spent multiple seasons in a collegiate program. Hutchison, 22, spent four years at Boise State and significantly improving over his final two seasons.
Hutchinson is a versatile wing who projects to do several things very well at the professional level. A competent scorer, a strong rebounder and capable of playmaking for others, Hutchison averaged 20.0 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists in his final season as the centerpiece to his team’s offense. Importantly, he did so in an efficient manner, posting a 57.5 true-shooting percentage and shooting 35.9 percent from three.
Profiling Hutchison’s ability as an athlete has been made somewhat more difficult due to his absence from the NBA Draft Combine, however, reports suggest he stands at 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot wing span. Whilst it’s unlikely that he ever proves to be anything more than adequate on-ball defender who may be able to create off the dribble more with guile than raw athleticism, Hutchison could grow into a versatile and competent wing option off the bench. But given the available options and his ceiling in the NBA being directly tied to a continual improvement of his jump shot, he’s certainly not a prospect any team should be making guarantees to this early in the process.
Keita Bates-Diop, F, Ohio State
In many ways, there are several parallels that exist between Hutchison and Ohio State forward Keita Bates-Diop. As versatile 22-year-old forwards who produced their best once the offense was turned over to them, both showed a proficiency as rebounders and – quite ironically – shot 35.9 percent on 4.1 attempts from three.
Though similarities exist in their game, the obvious distinction comes in the options Bates-Diop can offer on defense.
There are many versatile players in this draft who could prove to be quality defenders, most of them, though, will do so against smaller perimeter players. Unlike others, Bates-Diop, who measures in at 6-foot-8 and boasts a 7-foot-3 wingspan, has an ability to guard both forward positions, which gives him a point of difference against many of his contemporaries. For a team like Chicago, who since the departure of Luol Deng in 2013, hasn’t had a player on the roster who could adequately guard small forwards and act as a power forward in smaller lineups, Bates-Diop could help modernize a defense in need of versatile athletes.
The downside in drafting someone like Bates-Diop is overall potential. Though he improved steadily throughout his time at Ohio State, at 22 years of age already, his athletic prime isn’t far away. That doesn’t mean he can’t improve, but conventional wisdom suggests he has less time in an NBA system to develop his game before an eventual decline comes to pass. As an average shooter and a limited playmaker, though his presence offers defensive versatility, his ceiling will likely be capped as a notable role player best suited to an established system.
Jacob Evans, SF, Cincinnati
Athleticism, defense and shooting are all typically a difficult thing to find in one prospect when picking late in the first-round, but Cincinnati Junior Jacob Evans could give the balls everything they had hoped for ahead of the draft.
Projected to be a very capable shooter in catch-and-shoot scenarios, Evans, connected on 37.7 percent of his 3-point attempts throughout his three seasons in Cincinnati. And though he is a good-but-not-great athlete, built with a ready-made 6’6” body and an astute defensive mind, Evans will be a sage defensive option on the perimeter for NBA teams, as he was exactly that throughout his Bearcats tenure.
On the surface, Evans, 20, would may be able to give the Bulls a credible ‘3&D’ option, but expecting anything more from him is unlikely. Despite being a productive offensive player as a shooter, his attempts from deep will likely be a product of someone else’s creation. That’s fine, and every team needs pure spot-up threats, but at present, Evans has shown little signs to adequately create his own jump shot opportunities curling off screens. He’s also very limited off the dribble – don’t expect dribble-drive moves that lead to free points at the line.
Like Hutchison and Bates-Diop, Evans would be a prototypical Bulls pick given his age, experience and ability on the perimeter. Though he may not have their all–round ability as playmakers and scorers, in some ways that makes Evans a more seamless fit alongside in the rotation. In limited and defined role as a spot-up shooter who defends the best wing option, Evans would be a welcome addition to a Bulls team desperately in need of the skills he can provide.
Kevin Huerter, SG, Maryland
Defense, athleticism and shooting are atop of the Bulls’ wish list heading into the draft. Finding a player capable of doing all three would be nice, but if a premium is placed on shooting, sophomore guard Kevin Huerter may be the best pure shooter in this draft.
At a high level, shooting numbers of 41.7 percent on 5.1 attempts from three suggest Huerter can easily convert to the NBA 3-point line. But in a way, these numbers don’t do Huerter enough justice. Though his 3-point percentage is among the best in this draft, what separates Huerter as shooter is the type of shots he’s able to generate. As either a spot-up shooter or someone creating offensive movement through his work curling off screens and pindowns, Huerter gives true meaning to knockdown shooter unlike any other player in this draft. In that sense, there’s scope for Huerter to become a generational-type shooter, creating and adjusting his shot in mid-flight in a similar vain to Kyle Korver and J.J. Redick.
After testing well at the NBA Draft Combine and flashing an ability to create in pick-and-roll as a secondary offensive creator, Huerter has been rushing up boards as the draft inches closer. Though not as athletically gifted as others slated to go be taken in his range, Huerter by no means is a poor athlete, but limitations do exist. Getting to the line and an ability to lock-in defensively may be areas for concern, but given the potential benefits his offensive game can bring to a team’s offense, using the No. 22 pick on player who perfectly aligns with coach Fred Hoiberg’s offensive ideology would be an inspired move.
Josh Okogie, SG, Georgia Tech
I could go on and give a spiel about who Okogie is and what type of player he projects to be, but our very own Ricky O’Donnell summed it up best.
Josh Okogie looking good in the dribble-pullup drill. He reminds me of Nwaba with a jump shot. High energy 6'4 wing with a 7-foot wingspan pic.twitter.com/gLE5g6KOOW— Ricky O'Donnell (@SBN_Ricky) May 18, 2018
This might be the most apt comparison I’ve seen for Okogie. Standing 6-foot-4 and with a 7-foot wing span, very few players in this draft boast a physical profile similar to Okogie. Like Nwaba, an ability to play with a constant burst of energy and tenacity that very few players can organically match, is why the comparison makes most sense. Taking that archetype of player and adding a dependable jump shot is what makes Okogie truly intriguing, even if other limitations do exist.
In his sophomore season at Georgia Tech, Okogie proved to be a competent shooter from deep, shooting 38.1 percent from the 3-point line, doing so on 4.2 attempts per game. Both volume and percentage suggest Okogie has scope to becoming a capable distance shooter in the NBA, primarily in spot-up situations, however he has flashed an ability to create jumpers off the bounce, which may extend itself to the 3-point line in time.
Unlike Nwaba, Okogie may grow into a reliable shooter, but he too does have the ability to routinely get to the free throw line. Through sheer will and frame built like running back converting to basketball, Okogie can truck his way into the lane and get to the line with ease. Importantly, he can also make his attempts, converting 82.1 percent of his free throws.
Defensively, Okogie has the potential to be a menace on-ball defender. His speed and length will make him a legitimate option to stop smaller guards and even some of the bigger wings in the league. Whilst more work is needed to fit into a team defensive concept, fans of the team who draft Okogie should be expecting a two-way talent who should be able to an immediate impact guarding the ball.
From an upside perspective, Okogie likely will never have the ball-handling or individual scoring ability to be anything more than a secondary creator. But as a prototypical ‘3&D’ option, Okogie would be more than worthy of a No. 22 selection and ticks all the boxes management are chasing in this draft.