The Chicago Bulls should be risk-takers in the 2020 NBA Draft

(Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Bulls will likely be in a familiar spot in the 2020 NBA Draft, but does that mean they need to carry a familiar strategy into the process too?

Ah, the seventh pick. For Chicago Bulls fans, it should be like an old friend at this point. You can’t help but feel safe and comfortable with that pick. Since 2017, the seventh pick has been a steadfast staple of the Bulls, and 2020 is shaping up to be more of the same.

If the regular season ended today, the Bulls would likely be right back in lucky number 7 for another year. With that sense of familiarity comes another expectation from many about the team’s draft goals however, one that might be less comforting.

Much like the seventh pick itself these days, many mock drafts have the Bulls taking a safe and sensible selection this year. A player like Tyler Haliburton or Isaac Okoro, someone who meets a need but lacks the pop and excitement that surrounds some of the more volatile prospects in the draft.

Part of that is due to the draft position itself. Unless the Bulls get lucky, there’s a chance they won’t be in play for one of the prospects with greater upside. A lot of it, however, has to due with the team’s general direction in drafts lately.

The Bulls don’t exactly have a reputation as risk-takers in the NBA draft. They’re not known for making franchise changing moves like swapping Trae Young for Luka Doncic, rather they’ve garnered a reputation for filling needs and taking prospects whose talents are easily visible for all to see and evaluate.

In that respect, a pick like Haliburton or Okoro would represent the status quo. They’re the prototypical Bulls draft targets of late. Haliburton provides the playmaking ability that some are unsure last year’s seventh pick, Coby White, has. Okoro gives the team a small forward for the future. Someone who can take the job from Otto Porter Jr. and compliment Zach LaVine and White’s scoring tendencies with strong efforts on the defensive end.

In other words, if the Bulls draft either player in the 2020 NBA Draft, they’re likely going to feel reasonably good about their selection.

Is that something the team should be looking for now though? Is “reasonable” enough to justify a pick at this stage in the franchise? Should the team be looking for safe and secure, or something more?

With all the uncertainty surrounding the actual draft process this year, let alone some of the top prospects themselves, there’s certainly room to believe that the Bulls could have a shot at a potential franchise player. Great prospects like James Wiseman and Obi Toppin could easily fall, or an opportunity to move up in the draft could present itself if a team finds themselves questioning the value of selecting a player with some big question marks.

Either way, the point stands that there’s a good chance that the Bulls might not even have to luck out like they did in 2008 to potentially select a franchise player this year. All that needs to happen then is for the team’s new management to be willing to pull the trigger when the opportunity arises.

That should be a simple decision to make. The beauty of being in a rebuild for as long as the Bulls have is that the team has a full slate of prospects already on hand. White and Wendell Carter Jr. are two lottery picks, seventh selections to be exact, who clearly have room to grow. Markkanen has shown flashes of sizzle in between slumps, and LaVine has proven he’s clearly capable of still making big leaps forward at this point in his career as well.

While that may make the pick of someone like Wiseman a little puzzling at first, it would make for a great fit in reality. That’s because the Bulls can put a player like Wiseman on a team still looking for an identity and help craft a spot for him. They can do so while allowing him some room to breathe if need be too, since there’s more than enough prospects on hand to help soften the burden of carrying the franchise.

In other words, this isn’t like being drafted by the New York Knicks or Charlotte Hornets. While Bulls fans definitely want results this season, there should be plenty of prospects to help provide them. At the same time, it’s a far cry from being drafted by a team like the Golden State Warriors with a fan base eager to make it back to the Finals that’s looking for a player who can help them achieve that goal as soon as possible.

Basically, for players like Wiseman, the Bulls should almost represent a perfect fit. If he’s not exactly NBA-ready by time the season starts, then the team has the infrastructure to accommodate that. At the same time, if he turns out to be the next game-wrecking center in the NBA from the get-go then that’s all the better. The Bulls have the flexibity to make that work.

While Carter and Markkanen are prospects in their own rights, their injury histories and unique positional fits should make them a tad more fluid in the team’s overall gameplan. Markkanen has the size to play center and Carter the range to play power forward and vice versa. A 3-player rotation in the frontcourt hypothetically wouldn’t be too hard to facilitate, and could actually help all involved stay on the court more in the long term.

That same dynamic would also work in the case of a player like Toppin. While Toppin has the body of a small forward, his position thru college has been power forward. At 22, it might take longer for Toppin to become accustom to playing a different position than most prospects, so it would make sense to rotate his playing time between both wing spots in order to maximize his present potential while still preparing for his ideal future fit.

Again, the Bulls have the ability to make that work.

Up and down the roster, the Bulls can move players around to make just about any prospect fit. Combine that with a team already filled with prospects and a franchise eager to help facilitate player growth, and the Bulls look to be an ideal home for some of the draft’s big names no matter the question marks that surround them.

Long story short, the Bulls shouldn’t necessarily see this year’s draft choices as another routine exercise in filling holes and meeting needs. If the opportunity arises, they should be using the few advantages they have to take a chance on a prospect who could potentially turn a rebuilding franchise into a competing one.

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With free agency always a question mark for the team and a fan base eager for results, 2020 seems as good of a year as ever for the Bulls to finally make some major waves in the NBA Draft.