Underrated prospects at pick 22 for the Chicago Bulls

The Chicago Bulls have a myriad of options at pick number 22. There are four underrated options who could prove great fits on the young team.

Teams picking at number 22 have drafted rotation players; Jarrett Allen, Bobby Portis, and Kenneth Faried. There have also been misses at number 22; Malachi Richardson, Jordan Adams, and Victor Claver. The ceiling of a late first-rounder is sixth man while the floor is a d-league player. Chicago should look into a myriad of options in hopes of landing a rotation player.

Anfernee Simons

George Hill/Jordan Clarkson

I want to start out by saying people should not disprove a player just because they did not participate at the collegiate level. Plenty of players choose to skip the collegiate level for a few reasons. For skinnier guards, a lifting regimen could help with a smaller frame. For less refined players that don’t think they can showcase their talent at a top university while also not getting enough exposure at a mid-major, training with older players could speed up the process.

Even though he stayed at IMG academy instead of playing at a college, Simons is really young. He is 11 months younger than Shai Gileous-Alexander, 10 months younger than Trae Young, and 3 months younger than Collin Sexton. Technically, he should be an incoming college freshman, in the same class as Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett. It would only be expected for him to be sent down to the Windy City Bulls, still playing in a league above his 2018 college peers. If he were to dress with the Bulls, it would mean he is fundamentally ahead of schedule. Think of him as a draft and stash.

The first thing that stands out is Simons’ do-it-all ability. All of the other guards have one standout ability. Trae Young can shoot, Sexton can dunk, and Gileous-Alexander can defend. Simons combines explosiveness, a smooth jump shot, and defense.

Again, Simons is a unique case because he has solely played in high school and AAU. Going through his high school and AAU statistics would be useless, considering the competition would not be division 1 and players less talented.

In terms of his jump shot, he’s most comfortable shooting off a few dribbles and a ‘rocker’ hesitation to his right. If a defender is airtight on him, he will either explode to the rim, blowing by him, or he will act as if he’s going to blow by him and step back to his left for a fadeaway jumper. Even though he did not get a chance to showcase it in college, he already has an extremely refined offensive repertoire. For the most part, he’s a primary ball-handler and can get up and down in transition.

He has few weaknesses that can definitely be improved. He weighed in at a frail 181 pounds, weighing in less than the point guard positional average of 190. If he wants to play the 2 as well, he’s going to have to gain at least 15 pounds to do so. To add, he has a low release point that should be raised a few inches if he wants to get shots off longer defenders. Luckily Simons has a 6’7’’ wingspan that will help him rise up over smaller defenders. Lastly, Simons is not exactly a natural point guard. He recorded a meager 1.9 assists at the NBPA top 100 camp, and his assist to turnover ratio was even worse at 0.92. Simons will need to show the Bulls he is a true pick and roll threat and does not have tunnel vision when driving to the rim.

Dzanan Musa

J.R. Smith/Tomas Satoransky

Dzanan Musa is the most underrated player in the draft. In any other draft, he would be the European guard everyone would be talking about. European wonderboy Luka Doncic has overshadowed Musa but Musa’s ability should not go unnoticed.

The first thing that I notice is Dzanan’s height, measuring in at 6’9’’ in shoes. Right off the bat, Musa has a height advantage over every single guard in the NBA. Especially at the point guard, which he can play if needed, he could be a Shaun Livingston force, getting to any spot he wants on the floor.

The fact is Dzanan will sink those shots too, he will disrespect opponents with good range and a smooth jump shot. He made 56.9% of his 2-point shots in European play last season. He retains J.R. Smith-like confidence behind the arc, which is extremely helpful but also detrimental at times. Per 36 minutes, he fired 5.5, 4.7, and 6.1 threes at a 29.1% rate through three seasons. He did show improvement with an uptick in minutes, shooting 36.4% from three his last season. The fact is, his offensive play is volatile.

Dzanan has some trouble defensively. Given his hunched stance, it’s difficult for him to keep up with quicker guards and his slight frame makes it almost impossible to guard 2’s or 3’s. He also isn’t super long, he’s 6’9’’ but his wingspan is 6’8’’. Barring a major weight gain, Musa will have trouble making an impact defensively.

His slight frame also makes it tough for him to finish against larger opponents in transition. The biggest difference between Europe and the NBA is the athleticism and size of the players. Can you picture Musa out-muscling starters like Patrick Beverley and Russell Westbrook, or even backups like Marcus Smart and Delon Wright?

Khyri Thomas

Avery Bradley/Andre Roberson

Today’s NBA looks for certain players that would be rendered useless in other eras. The stretch 4, small-ball 5, and especially the 3-and-D wing are the most significant examples. Khyri Thomas is built in the mold of Avery Bradley, C.J. Miles, and Jonathan Simmons. Chicago does not really have a 3 and D player and could use the former 2-time Big East defensive player of the year.

Watching the film, one can tell he takes pride in locking down every position. He switches onto big men well, willing to bang in the post and box them out. He produced 2.9 steals per 100 possessions, using his 6’10’’ wingspan to disrupt passing lanes and be a pest as an on-ball defender. Although he is not just a defender.

Thomas shot nearly 41% from three in his collegiate career, proving to be a knockdown shooter since day one. Khyri improved as a secondary ball handler his last season, averaging 3.3 assists, good for eighth in the Big East. He even shot 63.9% from 2, displaying a solid mid-range game and ability to finish near the basket.

Khyri isn’t exactly a once-in-a-lifetime athlete, with a 35 inch vertical but he has some creativity around the rim and can create space with crafty dribbling moves.

Thomas is already 22 years old, so what we see from him day one will most likely define him. If Chicago wants solid production from behind the arc and on the defensive end, Khyri Thomas is our guy at number 22.

Trevon Duval

Devin Harris/Nick Johnson

Everyone seemed to forget about the former ESPN 6th ranked recruit, Trevon Duval. While Marvin Bagley and Wendell Carter dominated the headlines for Duke, Duval quietly had a strong freshman season. He produced 10.3 points and 5.6 rebounds in 34 starts for the Blue Devils. Admittedly, he is not the next Russell Westbrook or Derrick Rose, but he still has an array of skills that could interest the Bulls.

Duval tested extremely well at the NBA combine. He jumped 41.5 inches for his max vertical leap, which came in third and possessed the second-highest standing vertical leap at 34 inches. Anyone could be a great jumper, but Duval is special at actually utilizing his God-given jumping ability. He is a master at the and-1, absorbing contact and finishing through it.  He could easily be on the receiving end of an alley-oop as well as the passer. 

As he showed throughout the season, Duval is a human highlight reel.

Duval also excels in the pick and roll. He has unparalleled dribble creativity, often performing a double move after receiving a screen. Then, he could go up for a double pump layup or a smooth right-handed hook shot floater hybrid. Even though Duval is strong in many areas, he is far from a perfect prospect.

While his shot is not completely broken, it is alarmingly slow-moving. He shot under 30% from the three with the Blue Devils. If he can play next to Dunn, he will have to improve as an off-guard presence. To add, he is not a dominant defender despite his long wingspan, grabbing just 2.0 steals and swatting just 1.0 blocks per 40 minutes. He relies too much on natural athleticism defensively. He’ll have to get in a stance and defend against similar athletes in the pros.

Trevon Duval was overshadowed by Carter and Bagley in his lone season in Durham. The Bulls should look into his prospects as a future star at pick 22.