Chicago Bulls: 5 criminally underrated NBA Draft targets

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(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
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Sports Illustrated Big Board Ranking: 22

P.J. Washington did himself a huge favor last year when he rescinded his NBA Draft declaration, instead opting to return to Kentucky. Projected as a second-round pick on ESPN, Washington would have likely found a home with an NBA franchise as a development project. Instead, he has played himself into a highlight role at one of the most respected college basketball programs in the nation.

This season, he led Kentucky in points and rebounds, while also maintaining the second highest blocks per game. His monstrous frame lends him the ability to doll out punishment on the defensive end.

With a 7’3″ wingspan, he finds himself in the same vein as NBA superstars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kawhi Leonard. As if his 94.4 defensive rating and 5.3 defensive box plus/minus score weren’t enough, the aforementioned comparison bodes extremely well for anyone concerned with Washington’s defensive upside.

If that weren’t a strong enough selling point, he’s even better on the offensive end. Washington has demonstrated a high basketball IQ and the ability to effectively run the pick and roll. He’s also a great transition player that has exhibited an arsenal of post moves to get to the rim. Here’s a look at some of his best moments leading into the tourney this year:

With an impressive offensive rating of 120.5, he rates out even better than other highly touted offensive catalysts such as R.J. Barrett and Ja Morant. If you wrap all of his abilities together in a present, then his absurd 41.9 percent shooting from deep would be the bow on top. Washington’s tremendous work ethic and skill set lend itself perfectly to becoming a great three-and-D player in the modern era of basketball.

Players like Washington are exactly who the Chicago Bulls would like to add to their developing core this summer. If the Bulls see themselves slip out of the top three in the draft lottery, trading down might present itself as a perfect opportunity to pick up Washington and further assets.

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