As the Chicago Bulls prepare for the 2020 NBA Draft, one guy they should be laser-focused on is Washington State star CJ Elleby.
For bad teams in the NBA, the draft is their championship. It’s the biggest day of the season. The Chicago Bulls are one of those bad teams, and the 2020 NBA Draft will be a huge day for the franchise. It’ll be the first draft in the Arturas Karnisovas/Marc Eversley era and it’ll help set up the roster for the 2020-2021 season.
Obviously, the first-round picks are the most important in any draft, but second-round picks can make a difference too. Bulls fans should know all about the impact second-round picks can have on a team. Toni Kukoc was a major help for the Bulls’ during their second three-peat and was a second-round pick in the 1990 NBA Draft. He’s a classic example of why second-round picks matter. He wasn’t the best player on a championship team, but he was a critical piece. Draymond Green and Nikola Jokic are a couple of recent examples of second-round picks turned team-altering talents.
In the 2020 NBA Draft, there’s one projected second-round pick that I like more than any of the others: CJ Elleby.
The Washington State wing had a really nice sophomore season, averaging 18.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. He struggled with his efficiency, posting a brutal 39.6 percent shooting from the field and 33.9 percent from 3-point range. Those percentages aren’t a good predictor of what we’ll see in the NBA game, though. He took a lot of tough shots for the Cougars, leading to his startling field goal percentage. At the next level, he won’t be in position to take those tough shots. He’ll be a role player acting as a safety valve for the primary offensive options.
His 33.9 percent shooting from deep also isn’t a good indicator of his actual shooting ability. He was a high-volume chucker from deep at WSU, taking nearly seven threes per game. When you consider the volume of jumpers he took, 33.9 percent from deep isn’t actually too bad. That’s a lot of threes. The number I prefer to look at is his free-throw percentage.
During Elleby’s sophomore season, he shot 82.3 percent from the free-throw line on nearly five attempts per game. That’s very solid and is reason to be optimistic about his shooting at the next level. The other thing to look at with Elleby’s shooting is the eye test, which he passes with flying colors. His stroke is smooth, and he shoots the ball with a ton of arc. The ball simply looks good coming out of his hands.
Elleby isn’t the speediest or most athletic guy, but at 6-foot-6 with a lengthy wingspan, he does a nice job of using his size to help him get open looks. He can operate out of the mid-post, and he finds open spaces off the ball. He also has a tight handle and solid footwork, allowing him to beat defenders one-on-one even when he can’t blow by them with raw speed.
Elleby still has the option to return to school for his junior season, but if he opts into the NBA life, the Bulls should take a long look at him in the second round. Chicago desperately needs more wing depth and Elleby’s shooting stroke and overall offensive skill set would help their dismal offense right away.
CJ Elleby would be a fantastic second-round pick to start the Karnisovas/Eversley era in the Bulls’ front office. Oh, and he also has elite hair. I’m 99 percent sure that matters.