The Bulls have not been the greatest drafting team of late. They have a notable amount of draft-day trades that when looking back in hindsight, will make you visibly upset. This referencing the trade that sent the picks used to take Gary Harris and Jusuf Nurkic for the pick used to take Doug McDermott. That was back in 2014, but it still is upsetting to this day.
With the Bulls very unlikely to secure their first-round pick, they will be looking to their second-rounder o be a part of their future. They hold the 40th overall pick. Many teams have found stars at this pick or later, with the greatest example being the Nuggets taking Nikola Jokic with the 41st pick in that same 2014 draft that was mentioned earlier. Yet, the Bulls track record of second-round drafting is full of people who did no play more than a season or two, a couple of contributors, and one pivotal piece to three Bulls championships.
#3 Daniel Gafford, 2019
The 38th overall pick out of Arkansas, Daniel Gafford sits at number three on this list. Him being this high speaks to the Bulls’ inability to find contributors past the first round. Gafford only spent a year and a half with the team before getting traded at this year’s deadline. The 6-foot-10 forward is a great athlete which was much needed for a Bulls team that has lacked a lot of that in the frontcourt for years. During his time with the Bulls, he showed his ability to develop into a high-end rim protector. He has since blossomed with the Washington Wizards averaging 10.1 points per game, 5.6 rebounds per game and 1.8 blocks per game all within the 17.1 minutes per game he was getting.
He brought the Bulls great energy and hustle while teasing his ability to be a high-level defender. Sadly, they did move on from him, but the small contributions he made still put him at number three on this list.
#2 Chris Duhon, 2004
Another 38th overall pick, Chris Duhon came in and started 73 games for a playoff team in his rookie year. A second-round rookie starting for a team that went 47-35 is crazy. He was one half of a rookie backcourt that consisted of him and the seventh overall pick that year, Kirk Hinrich. Duhon would go on to average 6.9 points per game and 4.5 assists per game during his four years with the Bulls. He was a large part of a team that went to the playoffs for three straight seasons to start his NBA career.
Duhon is often looked at as a roleplayer that bounced around the league, but he started off his carer as a very solid contributor with the Chicago Bulls. A lot of times second-round picks may need some time to develop, but Duhon stepped into his rookie season ready to contribute. Even though his rookie season would consist of the most starts he would receive with the Bulls, he was still a spot starter and a great piece off the bench in the following three years.
#1 Toni Kukoc, 1990
In 1990, there were only 27 NBA teams. Kukoc was taken with the 29th overall pick, which then was the second pick of the second round. Kukoc was drafted in 1990 but did not come over to the states from Europe until the 1993-1994 season. After being selected and given the chance to prove himself a little bit in the Euroleague, he started to develop a lot of hype around his name. A lot of people considered him the best player in the world outside of the NBA. That hype came with the infamous stories of Micahel Jordan and Scottie Pippen wanting to destroy Kukoc when they faced off in the 1992 Olympics. The story goes that the two wanted to prove to everybody that Kukoc had no business coming into the Chicago Bulls and being deemed as the future of team.
Kukoc was tormented that game and said he never had seen defense like that. After all this was over, Kukoc came over to the team that next season. He was an immediate contributor to the Jordan-less Bulls. These teams did not win a title, but Kukoc had proven himself. When Jordan returned, Kukoc was regulated to the bench where he won the sixth man of the year. He was the third-leading scorer as a part of the second Chicago Bulls three-peat. In his seven years with the Bulls, he averaged 14.1 points per game, 4.8 rebounds per game, and 4.2 assists per game. These all-around stats showcased his incredible versatility for a 6-foot-10 player. He could handle, pass and shoot. He was truly ahead of his time.
Kukoc will no doubt go down as the best second-round pick made by the Chicago Bulls and it will be tough for anyone to overtake him for this title.