Even with over three weeks left until the 2020 NBA draft, could the Chicago Bulls already have their minds set on who they will take with their No. 4 pick?
The Bulls figure stay put at No. 4 if they believe Deni Avdija will be there.
This makes sense.
Like most NBA teams, the Bulls need another wing player. Otto Porter Jr. is a solid pro, but unfortunately has been injury prone in his time with the Bulls (he only played 14 games last season) and is coming up on the end of his contract. There’s a good chance when/if the Bulls get good, he will no longer be in the picture. Chandler Hutchison has the advantage of being young on his side, but he hasn’t done anything to indicate that he can be a starting wing on a championship-caliber squad.
Enter Avdija, the 6-foot-9-inch Israeli prospect with positional versatility and defensive chops, who has been playing professionally for three years already at just age 19.
Here’s a quick scouting report from NBA.com writer Eric Fawcett.
Take every stereotype you might have about a European prospect and throw it out the window.
Israeli-born Deni Avdija is the biggest-name international prospect in this year’s NBA Draft and he’s accomplished that title by playing an American-style game. Defensive toughness, determination on the glass, and of course-swagger.
Later in the scouting report, Fawcett does note that Avdija’s jumpshot hasn’t been great. He hit 28 percent on 3-point field goals last year in Euroleague and shot at a Shaq-like clip of below 60 percent from the free-throw line as well.
Avdija also got stuck with the age-old label that’s plagued all white players coming over from Europe: from an athleticism standpoint can they compete at the NBA level?
Wasserman’s piece on Avdija contained one other nugget that is notable.
Rival teams have told Bleacher Report they think Chicago could be interested in Tyrese Haliburton.
(cue the Iowa State jokes.)
A cursory look at some of the latest mock drafts reveals most of the experts believe Haliburton will fall somewhere between the No. 6 slot and the early teens. Of course this is pure speculation, but if the Bulls want Haliburton maybe it makes sense to at least try to trade down.
The buzz word in Haliburton’s scouting report is efficiency. In his sophomore season at Iowa State, he shot the 3-point ball at a nearly 42 percent clip, his overall shooting percentage was above 50 percent (he’s a point guard!), and he averaged 6.5 assists per game to just 2.8 turnovers. Here’s our guy Ricky O’Donnell on Haliburton:
NBA scouts wanted to find out if Haliburton could maintain his excellent efficiency while going from reserve to featured star as a sophomore at Iowa State. For the most part, he did exactly that. A skinny 6’6 point guard, Haliburton has proved to be an excellent spot-up three-point shooter (42 percent) and an advanced passer (35.3 percent assist rate). Just don’t ask him to single-handedly create offense in the half-court. Haliburton is not the type of guard who breaks down the defense off the dribble and puts consistent pressure on the rim, meaning he’ll likely be at his best as a secondary ball handler. Add in his terrific defensive instincts — his 3.8 steal rate ranked top-40 in America — and Haliburton looks like a nice complementary piece if not exactly a future star.
The deadline for the first pick of the Arturas Karnisovas regime continues to inch closer. Trading up, trading down, staying at No. 4 and picking a slew of different guys have all been speculated as possibilities. The uncertainty is part of the fun as we draw closer to finding out who will be the next guy to wear Bulls black and red.