The 2022 NBA Draft is now under a week away after the Warriors were crowned champions on Thursday night, and there are some rumors out there involving the Bulls. Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer had a number of Bulls nuggets in one of his latest intel dumps earlier this week, headlined by a report about the expectation that Zach LaVine will re-sign (!!!) in free agency. There was also a tidbit about the Bulls exploring Nikola Vucevic’s trade market and their apparent unwillingness to include Patrick Williams in a Rudy Gobert trade offer.
But this is a draft post, and Fischer also touched on the Bulls’ No. 18 pick. He said that “Chicago is actively discussing the No. 18 pick and Coby White with rival teams.” This isn’t a surprise at all given the circumstances, though there were no other specifics on the talks.
The Bulls have already traded away a bunch of picks to build their roster, and there’s an argument to be made that they should keep this one and take a chance on a young player and their development. But with the team trying to win now, turning that pick into a proven player also makes sense as long as it’s the right player.
If the Bulls actually wind up keeping the pick, let’s take a look at some of the names currently showing up on mock drafts around the internet.
After taking a Big Ten star out of Chicago in Ayo Dosunmu last season, would the Bulls go back to that well with E.J. Liddell? The Ohio State product and Belleville native is a popular name for the Bulls on mock drafts.
The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor and Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman both have him going to Chicago. Our guy Ricky O’Donnell has Liddell as the “best pick on the board” in his most recent mock, which also looks at who he thinks are the “most likely” picks (more on this later).
Here’s O’Connor’s blurb on Liddell:
Liddell is on the older end for a prospect since he’ll turn 22 as a rookie. But the Bulls need more help on the wing now, and his age doesn’t mean he’ll stop getting better. Liddell is a late bloomer as is. He tested the draft waters last year then returned to school to improve his shooting and perimeter defense. Now, he looks like a player who can help a team from day one while retaining the upside to reach even higher levels.
At 6-foot-7 and 240 pounds, Liddell put up 19.4 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.6 blocks and 2.5 assists per game while shooting 49.0% from the field and 37.4% from 3-point range as a junior at Ohio State. DraftKings has Liddell at +1000 to go to Chicago.
ESPN’s Jonathan Givony has the Bulls taking the Santa Clara product at No. 18, though he also notes the trade talks involving the pick and White:
Rival teams say the Bulls aren’t in love with their options here, and they are open to trading the pick, potentially in a package with combo guard Coby White. If they stand pat, the versatility offered by Williams could be attractive here, as Williams has the length to defend power forwards with his 7-2 wingspan, but also possesses the court vision, playmaking and shooting to be utilized at point guard in college, which should provide him with the versatility to slide all over the floor for a team that had to plug holes last season in an injury-plagued campaign.
Jalen Williams averaged 18.0 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists while shooting 51.3% overall and 39.6% from 3-point range as a junior, which was a massive jump over a shortened sophomore campaign. Interestingly enough, Williams is the favorite to go to the Bulls at DraftKings at +500.
Ricky has Tari Eason as the “most likely pick on the board” in his mock. The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie mocked Eason to the Bulls in his post-lottery mock, though that was a month ago at this point. NBADraft.net also has Eason at No. 18. Here’s Ricky on Eason:
Keeping in mind it’s smokescreen season, there have been rumors that NBA execs aren’t as high on Eason as originally suspected. If he does fall in the draft, this should be his floor. The LSU sophomore isn’t just the best available player on the board, he’s also a good fit for a Bulls team that could use some additional size and athleticism in the front court. At 6’8, 217 pounds with a 7’2 wingspan, Eason is going to be a highly-effective switch defender in the league who can quickly turn defense into offense by ripping the ball away from his opponents. His three-point shot needs to be sped up and he must develop his off-hand, but Eason’s combination of size, athleticism, and motor is too good to pass on at this point in the first round.
Eason also gets a lot of love from Brian Schroeder on the latest Cash Considerations pod. The LSU star took a huge leap as a sophomore after transferring from Cincinnati, averaging 16.9 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.9 steals and 1.1 blocks while shooting 52.1% from the field and 35.9% from 3-point land. He’s second behind Williams in odds to go to the Bulls at DraftKings at +600.
This one is more of a long shot. Jalen Duren is expected to go in the lottery and perhaps even in the top 10. CBS Sports’ Kyle Boone acknowledges this in his latest mock, but still has him going to the Bulls:
Chicago may not go center here, especially with rumors that they could be in the mix for Rudy Gobert, but in a vacuum Duren would be tough to pass on. He’s a high-flying big who can finish lobs and swat shots. I have a lottery grade on him and would be surprised if he fell this far, though, especially with so few quality big men prospects in this class.
Duren averaged 12.0 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks while shooting 59.7% in his lone season at Memphis. He’s at +2500 to go to the Bulls on DraftKings.