The NBA Draft is coming up on October 16, which means The Game Haus will be doing draft profiles for each NBA team. Each day, a new team will be analyzed for their past season, their team needs and projected targets. Today, the Chicago Bulls will be evaluated.
The Chicago Bulls finished the season with a 22-43 record, placing 11th in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls feature one of the youngest teams in the league, lead by Zach LaVine who averaged a career high 25.5 points per game.
Fresh off the firing of Jim Boylen, who got the boot after just under 20 months as head coach, the Bulls will once again look to hire a new coach. The field is ripe with potential targets, especially after two playoff teams dropped theirs, but the Chicago coaching job isn’t easy.
The team has little experience in the league and is no stranger to internal problems. Former HC Fred Hoiberg was released a year after the infamous divided locker room between Rajon Rondo and Jimmy Butler/Dwyane Wade during one particularly rough 2017 season. Then, just a week after Boylen took over, the Bulls’ players nearly boycotted a practice, finally settling for players-only meeting.
Now, reports have come out of a feud between Boylen and LaVine. Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic said that team members were concerned that “things could turn physical between the two” after a November game last season.
The young Bulls have plenty of talent, but they need some sort of stability going into next season, whether that comes from a new coach or a veteran presence in the locker room.
The Chicago Bulls have two picks in the 2020 NBA Draft.
First Round: Pick No. 4
Second Round: Pick No. 44
Rebounding- The Bulls ranked second to last in rebounds out of all 30 teams and last in defensive rebounds. Both big men they start (Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr) combine for just 15 rebounds per game between the two of them, and no one else averages over five. The Bulls have virtually no depth at the center position, and Carter Jr is already a bit undersized at 6’9.
Post Defense- The good news is the Bulls forced the most opponent turnovers per game last season with 17.5, and they had pretty solid 3-point defense too. The bad news is they allowed the third most free throw attempts per game, showing their vulnerability to slashing guards and big-bodied centers.
Colby White and Zach LaVine make for a pretty poor defensive backcourt, but the high-level defensive play of Kris Dunn off the bench almost makes up for it. The real problem lies in the team’s size and physicality down low. Markkanen stands seven feet tall, but he’s not not the court for his defense. If the Bulls can get a big man in the post, it might make guards think twice about driving towards the hoop and could cut down on the points the team gives up from the free-throw line.
First Round, Pick No. 4: Onyeka Okongwu, PF/C (USC)
James Wiseman should be at the top of the Bulls’ draft board, but the odds are that Golden State or Charlotte will pick him first. If that happens, Okongwu satisfies a lot of Chicago’s needs.
Though he’s a bit undersized for a center at 6’9, Okongwu’s 7’1 wingspan helps make him a dangerous defender and rebounder. As long as he’s not guarded by an Embiid or Gobert-type defender in the post, he has an arsenal of post-moves that could translate to him being a great inside scorer.
On top of his typical duties as a big-man, Okongwu has the skills of a wing. He can handle the ball and drive to the rim, garnering some comparisons to Bam Adebayo. He also possesses value as a playmaker on a team that features two score-first guards in the starting lineup. His passing out of the post could bring the Chicago offense up a level.
Second Round, Pick No. 44: Robert Woodard II, SF (Mississippi St)
Woodard may not be an immediate starter on the team, but he’ll instantly improve their defense. Standing 6’7 with a 7’1 wingspan, Woodard has the potential to guard star wings like Kawhi and Tatum. Scouts say he moves great off the ball, especially on defense. His massive wingspan for a small forward suggests he’ll be able to close-out well and disrupt passing lanes.
Woodard will also help the Bulls with rebounding. He averaged 6.5 rebounds per game as a guard at Mississippi State, and his 43% shooting from 3 doesn’t hurt either. Ideally, the Bulls could get a player with a great build like Woodard to play at small forward and make up for the lack of redounding at power forward from Lauri Markkanen.
Featured Image courtesy of Chicago Bulls
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